Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: What was the novel aspect of Ford’s 1969 L.I.D. Mustang prototype?
If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you’re right.
Does it seem to you as though there has always been and always shall be a Mustang in Ford’s stable? I know it does to me. The car that defined the pony car genre has also been its most successful, having plied that sporty car formula for more than half a century now, uninterrupted. Competitors have come and gone, and some have even come back again, to various levels of success, while the Mustang has just soldiered on.
Of course, Ford has not left the Mustang alone all this time, and while it has always hewed to its origins there have been explorations into making the Mustang something different. Perhaps most alarming of those was Ford’s late ’80s attempt to move the traditionally front-engine/rear-wheel drive Mustang to the transverse FWD platform of the Mazda MX6. That car did debut, becoming the Probe, but after focus group outcry it only complimented the Mustang on dealer lots rather than replacing it.
There was an earlier attempt to shift the Mustang’s drivetrain, and one that in the end proved to be just as fruitless as the later Probe ideation. That was the 1969 LID (Low Investment Drivetrain) Prototype that created the second-ever mid-engine Mustang.
Built by Ford Motor Company’s Special Vehicles unit and its private Detroit-area skunkworks, Kar Kraft, this fascinating 1969 project was known internally as the LID Mustang. LID was short for Low Investment Drivetrain—a mid-engine configuration done on the cheap, using as many off-the-shelf components as possible.
One notorious issue with the production Boss 429 Mustang of 1969-1970 (1,358 examples built) was its poor weight distribution, the result of cramming a big, iron hemi V8 between the front wheels of a lightweight Mustang coupe. The LID concept addressed this problem by relocating the engine from the front to the rear. Here’s how the deed was done.
A standard Boss 429 engine and C6 automatic transmission were turned around backward and installed in a removable rear subframe, with the engine centered directly over the rear axle centerline. A custom-built transfer case turned the output 180 degrees and fed it to a 9-inch Ford rear axle, which was converted to independent operation with articulated half shafts and u-joints. A special axle housing incorporated an engine mount and pickup points for the Koni coilover shocks and rear control arms. The modular, drop-out layout was obviously devised with low-volume production in mind.
On the outside, the LID Mustang looked much like a standard 1969 Mach I Sportsroof, with little to give away the revised engine location. The stamped steel wheels, eight inches wide at the rear and six inches in the front, were reverse offset (in front-wheel drive fashion) to preserve the stock track width, then disguised with full wheel covers borrowed from a Lincoln. The rear seat was removed and the area trimmed with black carpeting, while up front, the former engine compartment housed the battery, radiator, and air-conditioning condenser, with electric fans to provide cooling.
Despite a reversal in weight distribution from 60/40 to 40/60, the prototype proved to offer little to no performance improvement over the standard front-engined car. Add to that the extra cost, loss of the back seat, and looming distribution deal for the de Tomaso Pantera, and Ford found little to recommend moving forward with the LID prototype. Rumor is that it went to the crusher in 1970. I guess considering the layout possibilities we should be glad that the prototype drivetrain didn’t become the first front-wheel drive Mustang.