• Six weeks of preparation bring a Ford Mustang convertible to the top of the Empire State Building
• Ford and Empire State Building honour 50 years of Mustang with a car display 1,000 feet above the streets of Manhattan
• Ford partners again with supplier which was part of same feat with Mustang in 1965
As the world honours 50 years of Ford Mustang, what better way to celebrate one of the most iconic car brands than putting it back on top of one of the most famous buildings?
Ford Motor Company and Michigan-based DST Industries have been collaborators for nearly six decades. In 1965 – the only other time in the Empire State Building’s 83-year history that a car was displayed on its open-air deck – a DST crew was on hand to show off that Mustang convertible.
“When we sat down to start plotting this out in mid-February, everyone quickly realized that some old-school craftsmanship would be needed to successfully place this car more than 1,000 feet above the crowded streets of Manhattan,” said George Samulski, manager, Ford North America design fabrication. “The deck is too high to reach with a portable crane from the street, and the spire that towers more than 400 feet above that narrow deck makes helicopter delivery impossible.”
Following a site inspection in New York to measure meticulously all of the elevators and doors, the engineering team in Dearborn sat down with a scale model of the new Mustang and drew lines on it to represent where it should be cut. The Empire State Building is a historic landmark, with original art deco wood and brass trim in the elevators, so it was crucial to ensure plenty of clearance.
“The only real problem we had in 1965 was the steering wheel,” said Cochran. “When we tried to roll the middle section of the car with the windshield removed into the elevator, the top of the wheel stuck out a bit too far through the door, so we had to tip the cart a bit to get it in.”
In preparing for the 2014 event, the team worked with two early prototype Mustang convertible body shells. The car that would ultimately make the trip to New York was completely stripped down and the surface cleaned up to make sure everything looked perfect before it was sectioned and painted.
The second body was used as a donor by the metal fabricators to determine where to make the cuts and to fit a custom-built tubular steel subframe that would hold all the sections together. The fabricators built custom rolling carts and wooden crates for each section.
“The observation deck is open to the public from 8am to 2am, which left our crew with only a six-hour window to get everything out onto the deck and to get the car assembled,” said Pericak. “Before we shipped the crates to New York, the crew spent several days practicing the entire assembly process – timing everything down to the minute – much like a NASCAR or Formula One pit crew.”
The Triple Yellow 2015 Mustang convertible was displayed for visitors to the Empire State Building observation deck on Wednesday and Thursday this week.
When the deck closed to the public at 2am yesterday morning, the crew reversed the entire process and removed the display car before visitors returned.
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