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Ford Mustang Designer Revives an American Classic

As U.S. automakers struggle to maintain market share against foreign competitors, Ford is hoping a new design for one of its classic cars will help turn around its fortunes. Redesigning the Mustang would be a plum assignment for almost any designer. For Hau Thai-Tang, it seemed almost like destiny.

Thai-Tang was five years old when he spotted his first Mustang in war-torn Vietnam. The Mustang had been shipped to Saigon as part of a program to boost morale for U.S. troops.

"It really left a lasting impression on me, with a long wheelbase, a long hood line, very muscular," Thai-Tang says. "It reinforced all those positive images of America. It was big, it was powerful, and it really stood for freedom."

In 1975, Thai-Tang's family escaped Saigon and moved to New York City. There, Thai-Tang excelled in school, especially math. After college, he got a job as an engineer with Ford and bought his first car -- a Mustang, of course.

Now, he's director of Ford's Special Vehicle Team, overseeing the automaker's performance line of cars and trucks.

Thai-Tang shares some of the secrets of successful, attention-grabbing car design, and the small tweaks that make drivers feel instantly comfortable as they settle behind the wheel.

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