Old News: November 1989

Old News: Ford's clipped birdThink you can identify the car in this late-1989 spy photo?

It obviously looks like Ford’s substantially improved, new-for-1989 Thunderbird. So why, then, would a car still in its first model year be out testing?

Well, what’s not evident from this snippet is what’s going on at the rear of the car, just outside of view.

Continue reading to see and find out more.

Looking a little cramped
1994 Ford Mustang test muleAccording to news reports from the time, underneath this shortened tenth-generation Thunderbird body is what was believed to be the chassis and drivetrain for the fourth-generation Mustang that would be introduced for 1994. Whatever was under the hood seemed experimental since it was reported by the eye-witness spy photographer (Barry Penfound) that the motor in this test car was so “high-strung” it was stalling every time it came to a stop.

Automotive sleuths predicted a new “Modular” engine, for the five-year-away model, to be built at a facility capable of assembling different displacement engines on the same production line, and that is what was used in the production car.

While I’m unaware if the assumption that this particular car was used to test upcoming Mustang mechanicals was ever confirmed, it seems like pretty good deducing, especially for what little information was available at the time.

Although, another piece of information relayed by a Ford insider–that proved not be accurate–was that the next Mustang would share platforms with the current Thunderbird. That Thunderbird’s platform was referred to as MN12.

However, history reports a different outcome in that the production 1994 Mustang rode on an updated, longer version of the Fox platform that was still in use on the third-generation (1979-1993) Mustang.

1994 Mustang
1994 production Ford Mustang rearHere are two pictures of the production 1994 Ford Mustang shown in Canary Yellow, with optional 17-inch rims.

1994 production Ford Mustang front

(Click the thumbnail below to see the spy image in higher detail. File size is 72.1k.)

1989 Ford test mule - with presumed Mustang mechanicals

1989 Ford test mule - with presumed Mustang mechanicals (1000x300)


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