The Let's Play Archive

Need for Speed: Most Wanted

by Olive Branch

Part 6: The History of Ford; About the Ford Mustang GT

The History of Ford

The American Ford Motor Company was started, of course, by Henry Ford of Model T fame in 1903. Henry Ford first founded the Henry Ford Motor Company two years earlier, which eventually became the Cadillac Motor Company after Ford left. He launched the new company in a converted factory with cash from twelve investors, including the founders of Dodge Motor Company, John and Horace Dodge. Ford had the insight of building the cars sequentially following a specific procedure by adding one part at a time down the production line, which is why he is credited with the expansion and refinement of the assembly line concept, completely changing the concept of mass production.

Other than the Model T (which was the first engine with a removable cylinder head), Ford also introduced the first car with safety glass on the windshield in 1930 in the Model A. It also launched the first low-priced V8 engine powered car in 1932. Ford was one of the motor companies able to weather the Great Depression and continued to grow in size and wealth. Over its history Ford would continue to introduce more safety features thanks to the dogged persistence of safety whistleblowers like Ralph Nader and safety-minded professionals like John D. States. The Ford Mustang was introduced in 1964, a cultural icon that has survived to this day and also has quite a few songs to its name.

But Ford's history is not at all rosy, as most corporate businesses would attest to. The infamous Ford Pinto, designed with a major flaw regarding the possibility of the fuel tank exploding if a rear collision were to happen, was sold with this major safety hazard still in place because it would cost too much to fix the problem. Needless to say this brewed up a major PR disaster for Ford, but its dirty business doesn't stop there. There are also allegations that they collaborated with Nazis, Latin American death squads, and the Argentine military dictatorship.

Moreover, the booming 1990s were to be Ford's last hurrah. In the dawn of the new century, Ford's profits started to drop due to healthcare costs, higher fuel prices, and a faltering economy. Ford and GM were both declared "junk" bond companies in 2005, and they were forced to modernize quickly to meet new consumer demands. In 2008, facing severe bankruptcy problems, Ford (alongside Chrysler and General Motors) approached the U.S. government to seek financial aid, but Ford opted not to seek government assistance. While it has turned a profit for the first time in four years, Ford's future is still uncertain given today's shaky economy, the rapidly rising debt, and slowly increasing fuel costs.

About the Mustang GT

The Ford Mustang is an iconic car. It is currently on its fifth generation and popularized the so-called "pony car", which is a sports car-like coupe with a long hood and short rear deck. The success of the Mustang caused Ford's competitors to release their own "ponies", like the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger. The reputation of the Mustang, however, is probably worth more than its power: the second generation of Mustangs (including the Cobra II) were a step down from the bulky steeds from before, and only the fourth generation in the 90s revisited the Mustang's design and put it back on track with good looks and quality.

The fifth generation Mustangs, starting in 2005, are where the GT from the game is drawn. The Mustang GT is powered by a 300 hp V8 engine, and remains in production. Unlike previous cars we've discussed here, the Mustang continues to be in production, and is currently being updated for 2012 and 2013. Who knows where this wild horse will gallop to next?

Triple A Says...

Good on a straight line, average on the corners. As expected, VERY popular in drag racing but not nowhere near as popular in other motorsports. I would like to see more of them in drifting and road races. Perhaps getting a proper rear suspension would help...

Mustangs in general range from pretty damn good to utter crap. Ford is not very consistent in quality between models. Mustangs started out as a fairly good fashionable yet cheap car for young people, with a exquisite range of engines from reliable straight-6 engines to a whole galaxy of V8s in all kinds of tune and displacement. Nowadays, even the shittiest rusted mess of a first-gen Mustang will get a lot of money from some unlucky mark/automotive aficionado who wants another money sink-worthy project to his back yard.

After that, it kind of lost it's edge when they tried to compete with other pony cars, but it still sold pretty well until the Yom Kippur of '73 happened and the muscle car era of Detroit ended. To remedy this setback, they made a smaller and lighter Mustang II but they didn't want to spend too much money on it so they just reused the Pinto platform.

Everything about the Mustang II was bad. Styling was 70s in a bad way and the engines went from the heyday of the muscle car to anemic straight-4 engines and AWFUL V-6 engines. These were unreliable, underpowered and consumed more fuel than the Japanese counterpart. The American V8s in the oil crisis had a lot of displacement but absurd lack of power due to desperate fuel saving measures and California setting up rather strict emissions requirements for all new cars. The engines were forced to run very lean and while the Mustang II had met the emission standards, it was pretty much the most un-Mustangy car you could buy. Despite all this, people bought the Mustang II for the reputation until they found out that these things are EXTREMELY AWFUL. The less said about the King Cobra II, the better.

Mustangs of this era made as cheaply as possible and it showed. It was so bad, it made FRENCH look good. They were designed with value in mind, but they're only really cheap in the US. The Mustang's third generation wasn't that bad (1983) when they started putting engines that weren't complete garbage. They had some not-so-anemic engines, still lacking in power but it was adequate for actually doing Mustangy things. Underrated cars on the whole, but put a good engine in it and it'll go fast. It does suffer from indifferent build quality and boxy boxiness of 80's styling. As for the fourth generation during the 1990s, the designs were aerodynamic but ugly. At least they bothered to put some decent engines to them.

The game represents the retro-styled fifth generation. These Mustangs are surprisingly good, at least for their price in north America. Outside of NA, I would pick something a bit more refined than this.