In 1999, Baz Luhrmann released Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen), a spoken word, notional commencement speech to a class entering the new millennium. Based on an essay by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich, “The Suncreen Song” contains nuggets of advice garnered from Luhrmann’s own “meandering experience.” He advises the graduating class to remember compliments, avoid beauty magazines, and spend time with their parents, among other things.
I would add, to Luhrmann’s list of already excellent advice, duct tape. In the song, he says the benefits of sunscreen are proven by scientists. I am sure, at some point in time, there was a study done by scientists on duct tape. It can solve a myriad of problems and no person should be without a roll. It can fix anything.
Just ask Ford engineers Jonathan Gesek and Mike Del Zio. Despite the computer-generated and data-driven approach to vehicle development today, the human element is still needed. There are times a computer cannot read things the way a human can. After completing a high-speed lap in a prototype Mustang, Del Zio, a vehicle dynamics engineer, noticed the car was not responding to his liking around corners. The latest set of wind tunnel numbers showed everything was fine, but Del Zio was not convinced.
That’s when Gesek, an aerodynamics engineer, slapped a strip of duct tape over the lower grille gap. We are fairly certain (although Ford did not confirm) both engineers applied sunscreen at this time too. That would be logical since they were outside at a race track.
The slice of duct tape over the grille provided a “Band-Aid” fix to what is known as front-end lift. Gesek and Del Zio have devoted hundreds of hours to the aerodynamic performance and efficiency of the new 2018 Mustang. Their work has helped maintain and even improve the Mustang’s EPA fuel economy ratings. In essence, these guys know the Mustang and know it well. And they know when to trust their gut.
“That little strip of tape made all the difference,” Del Zio said.
Mustang’s front-end styling changes include a lowered nose, larger front splitter, and rocker shield. Each element helps keep the car planted while allowing air to flow smoothly underneath. But it all started with a strip of duct tape from a dull gray roll. Granted, you won’t find a new Mustang at the dealership with a slice of the famed adhesive on the front, but you can be confident regardless.
“At the end of a straightaway, what confidence do you have in being able to brake and make a turn,” Del Zio said, emphasizing the importance of human-inspired engineering and design. “Things start to come up fast at 155 miles an hour.”
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.