Celebrating 50 years since the iconic pony car first went on sale, the process of getting the new Ford Mustang onto the famous 443-metre-tall sky scraper's open-air deck mirrors a task first completed in 1965 with a prototype of the original Ford Mustang Convertible – a car 180mm shorter and 100mm narrower.
With the observation deck being too high for a portable crane to reach from street level and the building’s spire making helicopter delivery impossible, Ford North America design fabrication manager George Samulski explains an historic approach involving cutting the car into sections and transporting it via the building's lift would again be required.
“When we sat down to start plotting this out in mid-February, everyone quickly realized that some old-school craftsmanship would be needed to successfully place this car more than 1000 feet above the crowded streets of Manhattan,” Samulski said.
Starting with the meticulous measuring of all the Empire State Building’s elevators and doors, the crew – comprised of engineers from Ford and Michigan-based DST Industries who assisted on the original 1965 display – used a scale model of the new Mustang to work out exactly where it needed to be cut.
With the help of two early prototype Mustang convertible body shells, a wooden mock-up of the building's smallest elevator and custom rolling carts and wooden crates, the final display car was transported to New York after being completely stripped, cleaned, sectioned and painted.
Ford Mustang chief engineer Dave Pericak said the crew had six hours to literally take the new Mustang to new heights.
“The observation deck is open to the public from 8am to 2am, leaving our crew of six with only a six-hour window to get everything out onto the deck and get the car assembled,” Pericak said.
“Before we shipped the crates to New York, the crew spent several days practicing the entire assembly process – timing everything down to the minute – much like a NASCAR or Formula One pit crew.”
Coinciding with this week's New York auto show and the original Mustang's 1964 World’s Fair debut, the Triple Yellow 2015 Ford Mustang Convertible will be on display on the Empire State Building observation deck until 2am on April 18, when the crew will reverse the entire process and remove the car before visitors return at 8am.
Spied late last month, a 50th Anniversary Edition Mustang featuring distinctive styling cues inspired by fastbacks of the past is also expected to join the celebrations.
Making its international debut in convertible guise in Sydney last year, the sixth-generation Ford Mustang is due to reach local roads in 2015 priced from $45,000 powered by a choice of a turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder or a 5.0-litre V8.