This time all cameras were pointed at us...
When you cruise Woodward in a brand new Wimbledon White Mustang GT convertible with “10,000,000th Mustang” emblazoned on the doors, everyone leaps from their curbside lawn chairs or swivels in their passenger seats to grab a snap of this milestone-mobile. Not too many vehicles hit eight-digit production figures, and those that do tend to be workhorses or commodity cars, not iconic sporty cars. One driver yelled “who do you have to know to get to drive that?!” The answer: Hermann Salenbauch. He’s at the wheel—literally and figuratively. The German-born BMW engineer was lured to Ford in 2001 by the irresistible prospect of serving as chief engineer of the fifth-gen (S-197) Mustang. The pony car was well known even in Germany, having made a big impression on young Hermann ever since it first appeared in Goldfinger. These days he serves as Director of Ford’s Advanced Product Creation and Global Performance Vehicles—a title sufficiently lofty to get him the keys to the 10M Mustang with 41 miles (66 km) on the odometer. We’ll add 8.6 more idling up and down the curb lane of Woodward Avenue in an hour-and-a-half-long photo op during which we also snapped some shots of cars that piqued Hermann’s interest.
More 2018 Woodward Dream Cruise coverage:
- Cruising with Fiat-Chrysler/SRT’s Mark Trostle
- Camaros, Mustangs, Mopar, and More: 2018 Woodward Dream Cruise PHOTOS
1965 Volkswagen Beetle
Hermann’s family actually drove lots of Fords growing up, but they were all German Fords so we had no luck finding a 17M Taunus, Euro Granada, or Consul convertible, but the first car he owned was a 1967 Beetle convertible. It came in that light yellowy beige, which he garage-painted violet. It was a little rusty and he wasn’t a welder, but he was pretty facile with fiberglass, so he managed to thwart the TUV safety agent’s rust-probing pick with a few well-placed and well laid-up layers of plastic to keep it on the road beyond what the safety commission probably would have permitted. His handiwork also managed to net him double his money when it came time to sell a few years later!
1986-1990 BMW E30 Convertible
Hermann’s career started at BMW, where one of his more proud achievements was the slick convertible top mechanism on the E30 3 Series. It was the first to use an over-centering mechanism to press the rear of the top to the rigid tonneau cover, negating the need for a rear latch. The setup also had the effect of keeping the fabric very tight along the top of the roof where others frequently bowed in the wind. During that model run an electric top would be offered, but it was a snap to raise and lower manually as well. Another cool BMW-era story Hermann shared: While developing the E32 7 Series, quite late in the program the decision was made to widen the car 30mm right down the center so as to better accommodate BMW’s first V-12 engine. Indeed the car ended up 45mm wider than its predecessor.
1994-1998 Ford Mustang (SN-95)
This “Fox 4” Mustang is the one that Hermann emigrated to Ford North America in order to replace. By the time he arrived, meeting crash safety standards had stretched the nose enough to give the car an almost front-drive appearance. His primary objective in the redesign was returning that iconic sense of long-hood/short-deck, big dash-to-axle pony proportion to the car. This gave it the proportional look of the ‘60s Mustangs that made an impression on Hermann in Germany, where so many military folks left them behind. It’s only natural then that the designers seized the opportunity to paint a mildly retro design on this better proportioned canvas.
2011-2012 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500
As the driver of this GT500 convertible rolled past, snapping shots of our 10M ‘Stang, Hermann complimented him on his choice of a great engine. Salenbauch has fond memories of working with Carroll Shelby while bringing back the Shelby Cobra name. This later model GT500 version of the S-197 Mustang he came here to oversee was powered by a brand new all-aluminum 5.4-liter engine that shared some DNA with the one in the mighty Ford GT. It featured plasma-transferred wire-arc sprayed cylinder liners, which won a design innovation award. The engine was lighter, more powerful (550 hp/510-lb-ft), and efficient enough to drop the gas-guzzler tax levied on its predecessor. Hermann long advocated to officially sell the Mustang in Europe, but it wasn’t until the current model that this wish came true.
1978 Ford Bronco XLT
Broncos are hot on the Avenue this year as the world awaits a highly anticipated new Ford Bronco. Seeing this one all hiked up on big knobby tires got us talking about Raptors. Hermann recounted the genesis of the current Raptor. “Mark Fields told me we could do two high-performance vehicles—one car [the Shelby GT500] and one truck.” The team considered another rear-drive, lowered, high-performance Lightning model, but aimed instead for whitespace with an ultra-high-performance off-roader. “What about that Ranger Raptor?” We asked. “Oh, I’ve got one in Dearborn if you want to come have a look at it.” But basically he explained that the Ranger Raptor was conceived to give markets that don’t get any F-150s (most of the world) a halo performance truck. “Don’t you want to compete with the Colorado ZR2?” Not necessarily. His team is not yet convinced the U.S. market needs two Raptors. He did indicate that, despite Ford’s close relationship with Multimatic, that company’s slick spool-valve shocks used on the ZR2 have yet to win him over. “I wouldn’t trade our Fox shocks for those.”
1954 Dodge M37
This pristine, vastly-better-than-new example of the type of military trucks that were prevalent in post-war Germany caught Hermann’s eye. Built from ’51-’68 these post-war workhorses were based on the WC series trucks Dodge built during WWII. Power usually came from an inline six-cylinder side-valve engine.
1946-1948 Lincoln Continental
“Now THAT’S a luxury car,” Hermann exclaimed as we passed this very rare (on Woodward) example of a bona fide “Full Classic” car, as recognized by the Classic Car Club of America. It also ranks as the last car produced and sold by a major American automaker with a V-12 engine. The 4.8-liter flathead Lincoln Zephyr V-12 provided whisper-quiet, turbine-smooth power to this elegant, stately design penned by Eugene T. “Bob” Gregorie.
1962 Ford Galaxie 500 Police Cruiser
If Andy Griffith had gone bald and lived to cruise Woodward this year in his trusty old squad car from the second season of his eponymous TV show, he’d have surely been pointing at the 10,000,000th Mustang just as enthusiastically as this guy is.
1977-78 Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon
What better vehicle for the Woodward Dream Cruise than a Pinto Cruising Wagon!? That is indeed the nomenclature Ford used for this “sedan delivery” panel-wagon-with-portholes. The design was meant to draw a coolness connection between the somewhat unloved Pinto and the custom van craze that was sweeping the market in those days. Period ads showed the Cruising Wagon and an Econoline van in matching striped livery with the porthole windows in back and a tag line “Two Much!” That this would-be shaggin’ wag’n was parked under the Bra-vo intimates sign was icing on the cake…
1968-1971 Alfa Romeo 1750 GT Veloce
Hermann’s eyes lit up when we passed this sleek, spare, Italian beauty nicely enhanced by the removal of its bumpers and fitment of Minilite or Panasport wheels. A friend of his in California has an earlier example of this car.