Duct tape solves Ford Mustang response problem

Strip of handyman’s secret weapon closes gap in Mustang lower grille

Published: October 16, 2017, 5:45 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:06 PM

Mustang Duct Taped - Ford engineer Mike Del Zio watches as Jonathan Gesek applies duct tape to Mustang lower grille to improve response.

There is apparently nothing duct tape, the handyman’s secret weapon, according to television personality Red Green, can’t do. It can stop stuff from moving around; bind stuff to other stuff; and apparently also make a Mustang handle better.

Although that last bit may seem like a surprise, it shouldn’t be, as the silvery-grey, plastic-reinforced, pressure-sensitive cloth tape has been used for motorsports quick-fixes for well on half a century, except that it’s been adapted to colour-coordinate with team colours.

It’s waterproof, windproof and just about every other kind of proofing available, except for heat, which causes the duct-tape to quickly lose its grip.

So, when Ford engineers Mike Del Zio and Jonathan Gesek were faced with unexpected cornering response from a prototype Mustang during testing (even though all computer modelling said it should be fine), the duo turned to duct tape to solve the problem.

Vehicle dynamics engineer Del Zio noted the problem during a high-speed lap on the Ford test track. Aerodynamics engineer Gesek came up with a quick fix — a strip of duct tape over a gap in the Mustang’s lower grille. On retesting, Del Zio noted a marked improvement and the grille was modified to take into account the gap that was now duct-taped.

Del Zio and Gesek have spent 100s of hours improving the aerodynamic efficiency on the 2018 Mustang, with the goal of maintaining or improving on the current model by 5.6%. The front end of the latest Mustang lowers the nose and adds a larger front splitter to improve downforce and aid in keeping the front end planted.

A rocker shield allows air to flow better underneath the car, and active grille shutters (standard across the board on non-Performance Pack cars) reduce drag and higher speeds, smoothening air over and around the hood, instead of having it hit a wall in the engine compartment.

The result is a reduction in the Mustang’s drag by as much as 3% on the EcoBoost model, which is quite good, even though it falls a little short of the 5.6% reduction the company sought.

Maybe it needs a couple more strips of duct tape.