Now that we've finally seen the 2015 Ford Mustang, it's fun to go back and look at the spy shots we spent months pouring over, trying to dissect what was under all the camouflage. For the most part, Ford did a good job of concealing the car from spy photographers, and it released a video showing how much work went into doing so.

As crude as the Mustang's camo looked, all of the hard plastic, foam, vinyl and ratchet straps were actually created and put in place by a specific design team. The whole idea was to hide the car's identity, but it certainly ended up acting as a magnet for attention, too. According to Ford's press release, it took less than an hour for spy shots to appear online after the car was taken on public roads for the very first time – this is likely in reference to our first official spy shots of the Mustang from June, shown in the gallery below.

Scroll down for a press release and video, which shows footage of the 2015 Ford Mustang testing with minimal camouflage. This is probably the same track session where we got our first look at the Mustang's face back in August.
Show full PR text
HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: KEEPING THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED NEW FORD MUSTANG AWAY FROM THE PAPARAZZI

-The all-new Ford Mustang is one of the most hotly anticipated cars of the year, with everyone wanting to see what it looked like before it was even revealed

-When prototypes with final bodywork are built, engineers spend months testing the vehicles with padded camouflage and special paint jobs to hide the true shape

In the months leading up to the global reveal of the all-new Ford Mustang in early December, debating the exact shape of the car was one of the hottest topics for fans on the Internet. Helping fuel their speculation – while enabling the Mustang development team to log tens of thousands of test miles on public roads this past summer and fall without revealing the car's shape – was the job of the camouflage team from Ford design and engineering.

With more than 3,000 film and television appearances over the past 50 years, Mustang has the sort of on-screen résumé many in Hollywood would envy. Like those celebrities, when a new Mustang is on the way, the car paparazzi immediately mobilize in an attempt to capture the first photos for fan sites on the Internet.

"Ford designers and engineers spend a lot of time developing new cars, and part of my job is to make sure people don't see the result until it's completely ready," said Dave Pericak, Mustang chief engineer. "Professional spy photographers have been stalking prototype cars for decades, and now, the addition of camera phones has made it even more critical to hide our cars from prying eyes."

The chase is on
Getting an early look at highly anticipated new cars like Mustang is a cat and mouse game between automakers and a small cadre of automotive spy photographers that hide out for weeks on end in hopes of catching a glimpse of an upcoming vehicle that will tease fans.

"The professional photographers all know where the cars get built and where they get tested," said Pericak. "One photographer we see frequently parks in discrete locations with a view of these facilities, just waiting for something new to emerge."

With most people now carrying smartphones with cameras and Internet connections, just avoiding the usual photography locations is no longer enough.

"Before a single one of these test vehicles is allowed to leave the prototype plant, a camouflage package is developed and must be approved by the design, engineering and test track safety departments," said Al Wilkinson, Ford camouflage coordinator. "With all of the camo in place, even a good photograph should not give away the design details of the new car."

Initial camouflage development begins with the design team, and is then refined through engineering and safety. With Mustang, the first recommendation for camo was surprisingly minimal in an effort to keep weight and aerodynamic effects to a minimum.

"When I saw the first camouflage package the team suggested, I knew it wasn't good enough to counter the paparazzi, so we went back to the drawing board," said Pericak.

With too much of the new body revealed in the first camo package, the team quickly went to work to make sure the entire body was covered with black vinyl and heavily padded underneath with foam. The second proposal still showed the basic profile of the fastback roofline, something Pericak didn't want to have revealed this early.

The final camo package created for the new Mustang obscured the new fastback profile and proportions, making it appear more like a notchback, and smaller than it actually was. Pieces of plastic and foam were strategically placed beneath the vinyl to hide the true contours of the car.
"Safety is as important as security when testing prototypes," added Wilkinson. "Despite covering the body, we still have to make sure car lights and signals can shine through."

The vinyl panels have to be applied in a specific sequence to make sure there are no places for air to catch the vinyl and pull it up. With the new Mustang GT capable of hitting 155 mph, having the camo come loose at high speeds is a danger for both test drivers and bystanders.

In its final form, the camo package for the new Mustang weighed in at just 49 pounds, providing security without undue impact on the vehicle dynamics.

Professional photographers – who prefer to stay in the shadows or trees – acknowledge they can wait anywhere from minutes to months to catch a prototype, and patience is a virtue. When vehicle engineering manager Tom Barnes finally drove the first fully covered new Mustang out of the factory on a rainy day in June, it took less than an hour for photos of the car to begin turning up on automotive websites.

"After spending weeks refining the camo package for the Mustang, it was a bit frustrating getting snagged by the paparazzi almost immediately," said Barnes. "On the other hand, when we saw the photos later that day, it was a relief to realize you really couldn't tell what the car looked like."

Even with the lengths Wilkinson, Pericak and the rest of the team went to in order to obscure the shape of the new Mustang, sometimes a new car still needs to be tested without camo, and the only way to do that is a lot of late nights. Now that the world has seen the new Mustang, the engineers are free to complete the final months of development out in the open, camo-free, as the spy photographers have moved on to new targets.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 70 Comments
      chrismcfreely
      • 1 Year Ago
      Get rid of the "shop for a vehicle" thing. Not OK.
      Jesus!
      • 1 Year Ago
      Can we go back to the camo days and give Ford time to actually make a Mustang and not whatever this monstrosity is?
        john96xlt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jesus!
        Oh for God sakes, just go buy a freakin' Camry and STFU.
          john96xlt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @john96xlt
          I'm a stalker because I comment on the same topics and disagree with your idiotic statements? LOL Whatever you have to tell yourself. Idiot.
          Jesus!
          • 1 Year Ago
          @john96xlt
          Actually im happy with my Grand Cherokee thanks :) You know John me thinks you are a stalker. You sure do enjoy commenting on my posts and you know what they say about people who like to bully and pick on someone....
          john96xlt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @john96xlt
          As are you.
          Jesus!
          • 1 Year Ago
          @john96xlt
          You're still here I see.... :)
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      They made it exactly like the last one. Easy as pie.
        Ben Lee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        I dont think they had a clear direction to where to go. theres some confused design language. Hence the so so looking result.
          Chris
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ben Lee
          In other words, it's not mundane looking enough for you? I see a very clean streamlined look when I look at this car. By your critique, it sounds like you were looking at a Nissan Cube.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ben Lee
          [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ben Lee
          [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ben Lee
          [blocked]
          john96xlt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ben Lee
          " Keep it high and respectful, tears people up all day long." Not good at taking your own advice, I see. You're constantly rude and disrespectful to people you don't agree with. Like when I called the newer Explorer "hot selling", and you shot off with some smart ass remark about how it wasn't as popular as it once was, which my be technically true but you didn't have to be an ass about it. Besides, you didn't give an example of a modern-day equivalent in it's class. That's because NO mid-size SUV sells as high as they did in the '90s, that's common knowledge: You know that, and I know that, therefor your observation was pointless. The Explorer is the best seller in it's class (yes, above your precious Grand Cherokee), making up for the losses it endured from increased competition in it's previous generation, which is what I was oh-so-obviously referring to with my initial statement. Personally, while on the topic, I would rather see a truck-based Explorer than one based on a Taurus (and I like Taurus), but that doesn't mean I think Ford should've stubbornly kept going the way it was going with the market having obviously turned a corner since the segment's hay-days.
          Indubitably
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ben Lee
          What's confusing about it? Please list.
          Chris
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ben Lee
          yonomo, his picture makes me think of the valet parking guy from 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'. I can just picture him saying hey, reLAX!!
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ben Lee
          [blocked]
          john96xlt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ben Lee
          Chris, No, he just wants to hate it and doesn't know why, so giving vague, non-specific reasons is the best he can come up with.
          Jesus!
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ben Lee
          Indub...lets see a Ford Fusion with a Pony emblem slapped together with an awkward and wannabe supercar rear end fused in the middle with Accord like looks with an interior that could have almost been the next F150s. Id say theres plenty of confusion.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ben Lee
          [blocked]
          Jesus!
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ben Lee
          Yono one could say the same thing about you..or anyone else consistently coming behind people when you don't like their comment or they disagree with you. Then, you go off and call people names and make fun of them? Do you really expect everyone to be happy with this car? Do you expect every comment to be a positive one? Of course not. Just because you like the car, doesnot mean my personal criticisms as a potential customer are not fair. And personally I have never seen Ben say anything out of line(we all know the ones who do), but even if he has, why be a follower? Keep it high and respectful, tears people up all day long.
          Jesus!
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ben Lee
          Oh Ben you cant say anything bad about the new TauruFusiAccordStang!
      Erik Tomlinson
      • 1 Year Ago
      "spy shots we spent months pouring over" pour -> "to cause to flow in a stream, as a liquid or anything flowing like a liquid, either out of a vessel or into it." pore -> "to study meticulously, to go over again and again" Unless you guys printed the photos out and turned them into a smoothie that you then spent months transferring between different containers, you really ought to get your grammar right.
        JayH
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Erik Tomlinson
        they weren't studying anything. it's a metaphor. they were pouring us with pictures, as if it were rain pouring on us.
          eeenok
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JayH
          you wonder where this wrongness comes from, until you see such fantastically confident wrongness as this
          nvygw171
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JayH
          Just..... no man. .... no.
          Gorgenapper
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JayH
          ……………………………………..________ ………………………………,.-‘”……………….“~., ………………………..,.-”……………………………..“-., …………………….,/………………………………………..”:, …………………,?………………………………………………\, ………………./…………………………………………………..,} ……………../………………………………………………,:`^`..} ……………/……………………………………………,:”………/ …………..?…..__…………………………………..:`………../ …………./__.(…..“~-,_…………………………,:`………./ ………../(_….”~,_……..“~,_………………..,:`…….._/ ……….{.._$;_……”=,_…….“-,_…….,.-~-,},.~”;/….} ………..((…..*~_…….”=-._……“;,,./`…./”…………../ …,,,___.\`~,……“~.,………………..`…..}…………../ …………(….`=-,,…….`……………………(……;_,,-” …………/.`~,……`-………………………….\……/\ ………….\`~.*-,……………………………….|,./…..\,__ ,,_……….}.>-._\……………………………..|…………..`=~-, …..`=~-,_\_……`\,……………………………\ ……………….`=~-,,.\,………………………….\ …………………………..`:,,………………………`\…………..__ ……………………………….`=-,……………….,%`>–==“ …………………………………._\……….._,-%…….`\ ……………………………..,<`.._|_,-&“…………….`\
      IcoHolic
      • 1 Year Ago
      I can't wait to drive one of these.... especially looking forward to that new 300+ hp Ecoboost.
      Skeptic
      • 1 Year Ago
      As the former owner of a 1969 Mach 1 Mustang... I've got one thing to say about this new Mustang! This thing is a huge disappointment!
        bchreng
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Skeptic
        As an owner of a 2013 Scion FR-S, I love this new Mustang! See what I did there?
        john96xlt
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Skeptic
        What makes you an expert? The fact that at one point in time you had decent taste in cars? My parents had a '66 with a 289, 4-speed, Candy Apple red. They ordered it brand new at a Ford dealer 8 miles from my current location. I e-mailed him a picture of the new Mustang when it was first shown, he loved it. Wants to know when he can go check one out in person.
      Brex
      • 1 Year Ago
      To be pedantic, you pored over the spy shots.
        Chris
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Brex
        And we tried to undress them with our eyes.
          Chris
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Chris
          It looks like a Mustang instead of some Japanese sports car which is exactly what I was hoping for. Whoever voted my comment down must have not cared what it would look like.
          Audi sucks
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Chris
          I totally agree!! Even though its a new platform, it still looks like a refresh.
        Blackie
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Brex
        Thank you. I'm glad someone is still paying attention.
      recharged95
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Only vehicle that's gone 50yrs?" Corvette anyone? Impala? As a Mustang owner, I'm a bit flustered with this video. I spews too much hype and who cares about camo and paparazzi?
        john96xlt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @recharged95
        If you didn't care about camo and paparazzi, then why did you watch it? It's not like they hid what it was about. I mean, really, what part of the title "How Ford hid the 2015 Mustang from spy photographers" was not clear?
        • 1 Year Ago
        @recharged95
        [blocked]
          john96xlt
          • 1 Year Ago
          Yes, there were lots of years Impala was not part of the lineup. '86-'93, '97-'99.
          Chris
          • 1 Year Ago
          The Corvette never went out of production though. I believe you could get an 84' in 83'.
          • 1 Year Ago
          [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          [blocked]
        bullitt2605
        • 1 Year Ago
        @recharged95
        So technically the 50 year statement is correct, but I might argue that the Mustang II production years should be negated as well. I wouldn't call those POS's Mustangs! "No 1983 Corvettes were sold to the public. The model year was skipped in preparation for the all-new 1984 Corvette, which launched the C4 generation. Forty-four Corvette prototypes were built as 1983 models. Only one remains, and it is on display at the National Corvette Museum, in Bowling Green, Ky"
          john96xlt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @bullitt2605
          And that publicity (including TV shows like The Rockford Files; yes I grew up in the '80s/'90s but I saw reruns and loved the show, the opening answering machine skit was my ringtone for a while lol) is mostly what saved the F-Body, or at the very least played a sizable role in it. GM considered cancelling them at the time, too, as their sales had plummeted significantly. Also, Ford having significantly downsized the Mustang (with no V-8 option at first) and Dodge/Plymouth having abandoned the market as well in the early '70s left the F-bodies with little competition. Anybody who still wanted a performance pony car, especially with a V-8, had little choice in the matter. I think AMC might've still offered an option, but obviously it didn't survive the decade, either. Honda's FWD Prelude and Toyota's Celica were no competition to the muscular (and potentially V-8 equipped) F-Bodies in that regard, nor were Chrysler's Mitsubishi-based sports cars.
        Avinash Machado
        • 1 Year Ago
        @recharged95
        Also what about the Suburban and the Beetle?
      dfddfd2
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't understand why the media thinks it's so important to take and publish these "spy" photos. I think they are pointless as no one can tell what the car will look like in the end. I see no purpose served by these photos, other than maybe the photographer's ego.
        Chris
        • 1 Year Ago
        @dfddfd2
        Are you kidding? Trying to make out details and get an idea of what it will look like is far from pointless. Many car enthusiasts want to see these pictures for that reason. Looking at these spy photos certainly helped to debunk some of the rumors that were floating around.
        bullitt2605
        • 1 Year Ago
        @dfddfd2
        It’s called publicity, if they drove it around uncovered everyone would see it and move on. This way it gets dragged out for a while. Just like whenever they "leak" anything automotive, it's not leaked its to gain attention.
      An G El Halo
      • 9 Months Ago
      why did they change the strong look of the mustang ... it looks less powerful now >.> hope it wont disappoint me .
      An G El Halo
      • 9 Months Ago
      i think that the new look of the mustang is very disappointing ... they took the powerful look away and exchange it with ..... i dont know how to describe it mohammad abdul-raheem
      • 11 Months Ago
      [blocked]
    • Load More Comments