Wednesday night’s reveal of the 2024 seventh-generation Ford Mustang kicked off the Detroit Auto Show in dramatic fashion. Not only did it introduce a new, sleek evolution of the iconic pony car in a festival setting at Hart Plaza, but it reset the standard for future vehicle introductions, particularly at the North American International Auto Show.
The lead up to the reveal was more than two weeks long, with the popular The Drive Home to The Mustang Stampede bringing at least one example of each of the six generations of Mustangs “home” to Detroit, along with a camouflaged seventh-generation prototype driven by the S650 Product Development Launch Leader Marty Mosakowski. Crossing more than 3,400 miles from its start in Tacoma, the tour invited Mustang enthusiasts from all across America to drive with the group for an hour, a day, or a week. Some diehard Mustang fanatics logged 1,000 miles or more to be a part of this historic event.
Mustangs from all eras filled the parking lot at Ford’s World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, for a sprawling Mustang lovefest prior to a police-led procession downtown for the reveal. Per Ford’s suggestion, many owners showed up in period costume, with the Sixties and Seventies styles most popular.
Joining the fun was the Allen family from Kansas City, Missouri. Sean Allen had owned a 1996 Mustang in college, and had been following the coverage of The Drive Home here on Hemmings. At 11 a.m. the previous day, he and his wife Caroline decided to have an adventure, and loaded up their seven kids – Israel, Carrianna, Olivia, Emily, Deborah, Sophia, and young Jackson – into their “Bustang GT” Ford Transit van, determined to catch up to our group. They arrived at 1 a.m. in Auburn, Indiana, only to find one hotel room available, prompting Sean to sleep in the van overnight. Arriving more than 750 miles later in Dearborn with their Transit playfully painted-up, the photogenic family quickly became one of the media darlings of the event.
No road trip really becomes official until you have a few hours of driving under your belt. So while Tuesday night’s cruise-in kickoff at the LeMay-America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, was the official start of America’s Automotive Trust and the North American International Auto Show’s The Drive Home to The Mustang Stampede, it wasn’t until our 8 a.m. fire-drill start from Yakima that our trip began in earnest.
A contingent of Yakima-area Mustang owners had driven over the pass to the Tacoma launch party to escort us back to their home town. One of them was Captain Jeff Pfaff of the Yakima Fire Department in his white 2012 Boss 302. Captain Jeff left word with his colleagues at the Yakima Police Department, who put our hotel parking lot on their overnight patrol, allowing for a measure of comfort in our short sleep. Jeff is also a co-founder of Cars, Chrome and Coffee in Yakima, an inclusive event with emphasis on turning out young car enthusiasts. As we are finding out, passionate and helpful Mustang guys are all across this country.
Joining us on the trip is one representative of each of the six generations of Ford Mustangs, along with the yet-unreleased Gen 7 car, wearing a thick armor of skunk works camouflage vinyl and prosthetics. Designed with a fair amount of science involved, the wrap was tested at Ford’s wind tunnel at 150 mph. The mimicked porthole opera windows, a nod to the iconic 1955 Thunderbird, were just the S650 production team having some fun.
The interior of the car is cloaked as well, and none of us are allowed inside. We get it. Keeping secrets has been a problem on the Gen 7 rollout, Ford’s biggest and most anticipated in years. First, pictures of the gauge cluster and interior were caught by Dearborn paparazzi, and images of the front end hit the internet. Then, the reveal at the Detroit Auto Show as leaked. “We’ve fired five people over this,” said S650 Launch Leader Marty Mosakowski. “Three (breaches) were accidental. Some engineers had to pull over in a Kroger parking lot to gather analytics, and raised up the cloak on the dash, and pics were snapped by industry spies. Two other in-house guys purposely took photos of the front end, and were caught on camera at our facility. Two hundred and fifty engineers attended a mandatory ‘stand down’ meeting, where camouflage policy was discussed and disciplinary actions reinforced. Secrecy has been a top priority on this project.
Following on from William’s previous introduction to The Drive Home IV, here’s how day one went.
Even on its best day, Houston is a driver’s nightmare. Mix in 24 hours of steady rain with nowhere to drain, and America’s fourth largest city becomes one giant concrete birdbath.
It seems it’s now part of The Drive Home tradition to begin our annual January trek to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit with a “Hundred Year” meteorological event, but despite last year’s Bomb Cyclone projections, we’ve never felt more anxiety than during rush hour traffic in Space City. A brief excursion to sponsor Casa de Montecristo reaffirmed the need to avoid the overstressed expressway and return The Drive Home to the lazier backroads of America.
Echoing the Big Three automaker’s increased focus on truck/SUV production, this year’s Drive Home will feature a cross-country convoy of classic American pickup trucks—including a 1965 Ford F100, a 1957 Ford Ranchero, a 1955 Chevy 3600, and a 1962 International Travelette—navigating a 2,750-mile meandering route to the Motor City. The “World’s Quickest SUV,” a Hennessey Jeep Grand Cherokee HPE 1200 Trackhawk from Hennessey Performance of Sealy, Texas, will shadow the vintage trucks all the way to Detroit.