The Ford Mustang Schwarzenegger Once Won a Fight With Bruce Jenner and Rambo

Ford Mustang fourth-gen mockups 14 photos
Photo: collage edited by autoevolution
Ford Mustang Mach III ConceptFord Mustang Bruce JennerFord Mustang mock-upFord Mustang mock-upFord Mustang mock-upFord Mustang mock-upFord Mustang Mach III ConceptFord Mustang mock-upFord Mustang mock-upFord Mustang RamboFord Mustang RamboFord Mustang Arnold SchwarzeneggerFord Mustang Arnold Schwarzenegger
Apart from being athletic and extremely famous for various reasons, there weren't that many common denominators between Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Jenner and the movie character Rambo back in the late '80s and early '90s.
Apparently, those two characteristics were enough for Ford designers at the time to incorporate all three men's names and looks into the development of the fourth-generation Mustang, a sports car that almost looked completely different.

As the final Blue Oval product to be underpinned by the Fox platform, which was developed back in 1977, the fourth-generation Mustang had a rather troublesome and downright peculiar development.

Following the 1973 Oil Crisis, most sports cars made in the United States were on a derailing train that saw the death of the original muscle cars and pony cars. Sure, the Mustang still existed in the late '80s but not many people want to remember the second-generation model in a fond manner and the Fox-body Mustang was getting quite a bit long in the tooth.

Despite pony car sales getting lower, Ford still wanted to preserve its iconic nameplate so it started working on a replacement. Since back then the Blue Oval was in cahoots with Mazda, company executives sent the go-ahead for the fourth-generation Mustang to be developed on a front-wheel-drive Japanese platform.

Ford Mustang Bruce Jenner

Ford Mustang Bruce Jenner
Photo: Ford
Fortunately, Ford execs avoided lynching by pony car fans and the project was not aborted, but subsequently renamed as the Probe, an FWD sports coupe based on the Mazda MX-6. That also meant that the RWD fourth-generation Mustang was delayed for several more years, thus giving the Fox-body the longest lifespan of every other Mustang.

Instead of being unveiled in 1988, when the Probe took its place, the 4th-gen Mustang appeared in November 1993, with rear-wheel-drive like God intended.

That said, the car was still based on the Fox-body platform, despite having been significantly altered. Since it had a rather extended gestation period, Ford designers were given complete freedom and a bunch of clay models and prototypes were made, with each more outlandish than the next.

Some were even “wrong-wheel-drive” like the Probe, with one FWD clay model noted to not only look nothing like a Mustang but having the horse logo running from left to right – inconsistent with every other Mustang in history, concept or not.

Ford Mustang Rambo

Ford Mustang Rambo
Photo: Ford
Another early sketch didn't even look like a Ford at all, with most of its design motifs frighteningly reminding viewers of a fourth-generation Pontiac Trans-Am.

Fearing an uproar from the fans if the production car wouldn't be compatible with the general expectations of what a Mustang should look like but also trying to design a modern, trendy sports car, Ford did something weird. It listened to the public.

The SN95 project, as the car was known internally, started following a number of so-called consumer clinics, where the company simply asked the public what they really wanted from the new Mustang.

As expected, most answers revolved around the styling, which had to have at least some hints of the original, unlike the dreaded second-generation or the Fox-body, an easily serviceable V8 version, a low starting price, customization options and, naturally, rear-wheel-drive.

While Ford had spent a record close to 3 billion dollars on the development of the first Ford Taurus and its Mercury Sable brethren, the fourth-gen Mustang project only received a $700 million investment. This is probably the main reason for the model keeping its Fox platform.

Ford Mustang Arnold Schwarzenegger

Ford Mustang Arnold Schwarzenegger
Photo: Ford
The American public had developed a rather distinct type of pop culture in the '80s, which was even influencing industries across the ocean, so it happens that from the dozens of design sketches and clay models built during the car's development it all came down to three very different Mustang mockups.

Varying from mild to wild and influenced by both the original Mustang's history and early 1990s TV stars, the three remaining proposals were amusingly named after pop icons of the time.

This how the inventor of the pony car actually named a Mustang after Bruce Jenner, who is now currently known as Caytlin Jenner but was a star Olympic athlete at the time. The car had a fit but slimmer appearance, just like the Television personality.

The second mockup and the most outrageous looking one was named after Sylvester Stallone's Rambo movie character, which was very popular at the time. The third and the one that actually became the fourth-generation Mustang was named after none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it fused design motifs from the other two concepts and the original Mustang in a pretty cohesive way, hence its success.

Who knows, maybe Bruce Jenner unnoficially got his revenge on Arnold by Ford naming the Mustang Mach-E as Caitlyn during development.
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About the author: Alex Oagana
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Alex handled his first real steering wheel at the age of five (on a field) and started practicing "Scandinavian Flicks" at 14 (on non-public gravel roads). Following his time at the University of Journalism, he landed his first real job at the local franchise of Top Gear magazine a few years before Mircea (Panait). Not long after, Alex entered the New Media realm with the project.
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