Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Does Ford need to stretch the Mustang to compete with Chrysler's LH platform?


Some people on different blogs are asking for a 4 door variant of the Mustang. One blogger even wants to call it the Falcon. Here's what I've got to say about that;

First off, Ford has at least two platforms available that are rear wheel drive and have V-8 power and Independent Rear Suspensions. The first is available here in the US today. Walk into any Lincoln dealer and walk over to the LS. The Lincoln LS which is not selling as well as it should, hit the market a few years ago based on a new corporate platform that was shared with the Jaguar S Type and the Ford Thunderbird, and which shared some development with the new Mustang platform. I've read on several websites and in print that the Mustang chassis was a further development of this chassis. But I'm not interested in debating that. The point is that while some people argue that Ford has no chassis to compete with the new LH cars from Chrysler, that's just not true. The LS chassis is perfect for this, with IRS a V-8 or V-6 powertrain, and in the Jaguar a supercharged V-8 making over 380 hp.

The second chassis that Ford has that could be adapted for the purpose is the Australian Ford Falcon. Again with 6 or 8 cylinder powertrains and IRS capable of putting over 450 hp to the ground. With this chassis, they have the added bonus of a station wagon, crossover SUV and Ranchero like UTE. I've posted before on the strong atributes of this Ford from down under and how I feel it could be a natural for the US market.

Now either chassis could be made availalbe with AWD and powerful V-8 options, so take your pick. Ford has the raw materials to deliver the goods without having to come up with a clean sheet design.

9 comments:

The Auto Prophet said...

I vote YES!

The Auto Prophet said...

(they shouldn't give up on RWD so easily)

Anonymous said...

LS is heavy, ~4500lbs.

Falcon is Left hand drive--major re-work required to sell it in US. Also crash standards are different.

Ben Kraal said...

I'm sure Anon means "the Falcon is right-hand drive".

If Holden can re-work the Monaro into the GTO, including Federalised emmissions, and re-locate the gas (petrol) tank for U.S. regs, and build Aussie and American versions on the same production line in Adelaide, then I'm sure Ford could re-work the Falcon and built in in the 'States. Perhaps it would take a Lutz-like vision and persistence to make it happen, though.

The Falcon is pretty comparable to the LS/S-type in weight, though I'm pretty sure it's a cheaper platform overall.

Control Blade suspension on the Falcon is closely related to the IRS on the Focus, both the recently superceded model and the new one.

Changing tack slightly, given the dumb way that the European Mondeo was translated into the U.S. Contour (hey, let's build this great car in the 'States - except we'll change most of the sheet metal to make it smaller and uglier and lose any gains there might have been by not spending money on a re-design - great plan Mr Ford.), I'm sure, Joe, that you and I and the Prophet won't be holding our breath for a Falcon in the 'States any time soon.

Big Ford Fan said...

AutoProphet, I know that you are an industry insider and probably have a better idea of the process involved, but I still think that this could be a doable thing.

And if not the Falcon, the Lincoln LS chassis. The crash tests have been done and the emisions also.

Come on Ford, give us a new LTD or Galxie or Falcon to compete with those smug Chrysler and GM boys!

Big Ford Fan said...

Ben I agree with what you say about the Mondeo/Contour. Ford really dropped the ball on that one. But I have been told many times that European and American tastes in Midsize cars are vastly different.

If Ford did choose to bring a version of the Falcon/Fairmont here I would hope they screw the pooch on that one too.

Ford's "imports" over the years (Capri old/new, Siera, Scorpio Fiesta) have always been near misses. It seems that even the Ford faithful have had problems buying Fords not made in the US. This may have been the case before NAFTA. Hell if people knew where half the cars are actually built I think they' be very surprised.

Ben Kraal said...

Joe,

I, too, have heard the canard that U.S. and European tastes in mid-size (or small, or large) cars are different but other than the Big Three's apparent preference for high-profit, lowest-common-denominator stuff, I don't see that there is a difference, particularly comparing U.S. and Australian preferences for medium cars.

Here, the biggest sellers are the Falcon and Commodore (ie a V6, 4-door GTO/Monaro), followed closely by the Corolla and Holden Astra (Vauxhall/Opel Astra actually) and then the Camry. The Honda Accord (which is different to the one you all get in the US) and Mazda6 (but we don't get the V6) are also among the top 25 sellers. Our roads are worse than the U.S., our petrol cheaper than Europe but more expensive than the U.S.

Check: Vfacts, Australian new car sales.

Also check the tiny amount of sales (compared to the U.S. market) year-to-date. Ford Australia is making money only selling the Falcon in Australia, New Zealand abd South Africa and NZ and SA are tiny markets. It does not export to South-East Asia or the Middle East as Holden does (in large numbers!).

Big Ford Fan said...

Ben, I agree the facts do not bear out the statement. The Accord and Camry that sell in Europe sell here fine. I am aware that the Accord sold here differs from other markets, but am not sure why.

I also had read about Ford of Australia's small market, meaning lack of export. That's a shame, if Holden can do it, why can't Ford. I think it has more to do with Dearborn's perception than the cars. Dearborn likes to hold up Ford as a Global company, but doesn't really do that well.

By the way, I'd love to know what you think of the Ford Ranger/Courier now that it is not based on the old Mazda series. Email me direct on that.
Thanks,
Joe

Anonymous said...

Just read MOTOR TREND today, it stated that Ford has given up on RWD platforms for US market , along with GM and thier Camaro/Chevelle models. That leaves Daimler Chrysler with the only sub $50 RWD platform.

The European Honda is sold here as Acura TSX

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