Ford Used Duct Tape To Improve The 2018 Mustang's Aerodynamics

Muscle Car

The difference a single strip of duct tape can make.

The Ford Mustang received a mid-life refresh for model year 2018, so naturally engineers were excited at the opportunity to make those tiny, yet significant improvements they felt were necessary to make a great car even better. One of those updated areas was aerodynamic efficiency, a task assigned to a pair of Ford engineers, Mike Del Zio and Jonathon Gesek. Del Zio is the dynamics engineer while Gesek handles aerodynamics. Together they saw an issue that required fixing: responsiveness, specifically around corners.

Wind tunnel testing numbers stated things were fine, but the engineers knew something else was up. So Gesek came up with a solution. A strip of duct tape, the very same stuff we can all buy, was applied to the Mustang’s lower gap of the grille. The specific goal was to reduce what’s known as front-end lift. Del Zio then tested the car again and voila! The Mustang’s handling had improved. "That little strip of tape made all the difference,” Del Zio said. "The key to the subjective is confidence. At the end of a straightaway, what confidence do you have in being able to brake and make a turn? Things start to come up fast at 155 miles an hour."

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The pair’s work also resulted in a 5.6 percent improvement in EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings over the outgoing Mustang. Upon seeing the improvement the duct made, the engineers turned their findings over to the designers. They then lowered the Mustang’s nose, added a larger front splitter that adds downforce and helps keep the front end planted to the ground, and a rocker shield allowing air to flow better underneath the car. These changes, for example, reduced drag by up to 3 percent on the 2018 EcoBoost Mustang. Cool stuff.