No, it's not a belated April Fools' Day joke.
The Chevrolet Corvette finally switched to a mid-engined layout in 2019 after seven generations and 66 years on the market. During this period, several concept cars with the engine behind the seats were developed, starting with the 1959 CERV-I followed by the 1964 CERV-II.
Roughly around the same time, it would appear Ford was also toying around with the idea of a mid-engined layout for its pony car. Four images published by Ford Performance on its official website tell the story of a mid-engined Mustang concept, although “story” might not be the best term to use since the Blue Oval doesn’t know much about the car’s origins.
The company mentions it stumbled upon these images five years ago and has been trying ever since to find out the car's history. Former Ford Archives boss Dean Weber got in touch with Mustang author and columnist John Clor at Ford Performance as well as with John Clinard of Ford’s West Coast Public Affairs office in an attempt to decipher the mystery, but it was all pretty much in vain. The only pieces of the puzzle available right now are that we’re looking at a concept based on a 1966 body photographed inside the design studio in Dearborn on May 2, 1966.
Clor replied to Weber’s e-mail with:
“Wow! Unreal! I have NEVER seen these shots or anything even REMOTELY like them before … almost look like they were part of [Eugene] Bordinat’s previous Allegro project? I bet either Hal Sperlich or Gale Halderman would know; mind if I show these photos to them and see if they can remember? After all, they were both down there in the Design Studio at the time”
It’s safe to say Clinard was also fascinated by the images:
“My thoughts exactly. I’ve never seen or heard of this car. So cool! I showed it to Greg Hutting, veteran designer here in the Irvine studio. He identified the location as the ‘International Studio’ in Dearborn but said he had never seen this property before!”
Clor went on to chat with product planner Hal Sperlich in his quest to learn more about the elusive mid-engined Mustang concept, but he also drew a blank: “The only thing I can think is that this might have something to do with the driveable version of the Ford Research mid-ship car that was used as a Mustang tease.”
He didn’t stop there as Clor also talked with Gale Halderman, the lead designer of the original ‘Stang, who had a different opinion about the car’s origins. He believes the mid-engined Mustang pictured here had nothing to do with the Ford Research mid-ship car as that one was developed years before as a one-off not based on a production Mustang.
Gallery: 1966 Ford Mustang mid-engined concept
Clor insisted on finding out the real story of the car and reached out to Roy Lunn a.k.a. “The godfather of the GT40,” but to no avail. Even after contacting all these people, along with muscle car guru Marty Schorr and several Ford retirees, Clor was unable to complete the puzzle.
This is why Ford is now reaching out to all of us in its attempt to discover the full story of the intriguing concept. If you happen to have more details about the car, send an e-mail to ClubHub@Ford.com and the company will reward you with a “special prize” if the information provided will help Ford fill in the blanks.
Whether it was a pet project from a small team the higher-ups at Ford axed or something else, the car must have an interesting story we’re eager to hear.