The 1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 has been labeled by some as the greatest muscle car of all time. With a 428-cubic-inch Police Interceptor engine, which packed 355 horsepower, its power was an instant hit with customers, and it remains a classic to this day. Over the years Ford (NYSE:F) has made many modifications and updates to that classic car, however, it has always remained its iconic muscle car.
That is until the 2015 Mustang rolls out, which is rumored to be bringing the car into the 21st century as a lighter, faster sports car. That car is said to be shedding about 400 pounds from its 3,523 pound frame and will be doing so by using more aluminum. That's great news for aluminum giant Alcoa (NYSE:AA), which expects to triple its sales of aluminum sheets to automakers by 2015. However, should Ford enthusiasts be equally as enthused to see the Mustang using a less muscular metal?
Let's face it, aluminum just doesn't speak of strength. We can crush an aluminum soda can without breaking a sweat. Superman is known as the "Man of Steel" while the closest thing aluminum has is the "Tin Man" from the Wizard of Oz. It just doesn't suggest the makings of a muscle car. But, that's just because we really don't give aluminum the credit it deserves.
Aluminum actually absorbs two times the energy in a crash when compared to steel. What that means is that car manufacturers can replace steel with lighter weight aluminum, which increases the car's performance and fuel economy, without sacrificing any safety. It's one reason why the all-aluminum, all-electric Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S was recently awarded one of the highest safety ratings ever. Given that part of the allure of owning a muscle car is the distinct combination of safety and performance, aluminum really is the best metal for the job.
Speaking of performance, because of the lighter weight, vehicles made with aluminum tend to accelerate faster, brake quicker and handle better. Again, Tesla has used aluminum as the base for a car that won Car of the Year, not just because electric cars are cool these days, but because that car flat out performed. This is why it might be easier to think of a muscle car built with more aluminum as one being in the Muhammed Ali mode in that it floats like a butterfly, but stings like a bee.
Ford might be cutting the weight of its classic muscle car by replacing heavier steel with lighter weight aluminum, but don't let the lighter weight fool you. Pound-for-pound aluminum packs more muscle than steel making it the perfect choice for Ford's iconic muscle car. Bottom line, Ford isn't taking any muscle out of the Mustang, instead, it's toning it up to keep fighting off the competition.