How Duct Tape Improved the Ford Mustang

 

Oct 11, 2017

As technology continues to creep further into design and engineering, some may lose focus on the simpler tools at their disposal. As engineers start to remodel cars in augmented reality environments instead of using clay, who knows what subtleties might be lost or neglected when designers lose that physical touch?

The same can be said about engineers who are ever more reliant on simulations and testing. Sometimes, for example, when you’re making a car, you don't notice a problem until you feel it in the car while you’re on the track. With all of these newfangled solutions to problems, some may forget old reliable, a tried and tested way of fixing everything from your shoes to rovers in space. That old friend is duct tape.

A pair of Ford engineers took the 2018 Mustang prototype out to run a high-speed lap on the test track. The vehicle dynamics engineer, Mike Del Zio, didn't like how the car was responding around the corners. His colleague, an aerodynamics engineer, Jonathan Gesek had a simple solution, a strip of duct tape. In an attempt to reduce front-end lift, Gesek placed the duct tape over the lower gap of the grille. His simple fix not only made the car handle better, but it eventually led to a modified grille on the 2018 Mustang.

After investing hundreds of hours into the new Mustang's aerodynamic performance, the on-the-fly modification eventually lead to a lowered nose, a bigger front splitter to add downforce, and a rocker shield to improve airflow beneath the car.

Active grille shutters also close off the grille at high speeds, so that the air flows around the car instead of into the engine compartment. The changes helped reduce drag by up to three percent on the EcoBoost model and allowed the new Mustang to keep a better grip on the road, all because of a strip of duct tape.