Hey, sports fans, here is some good news: Stock cars are about to start looking more like actual stock cars.
Ford is showing off the Fusion it plans to race on the NASCAR circuit, the first actually designed by Ford engineers since the 1960s.
Back then, stock cars were hopped-up versions of the same cars that were in dealer showrooms. Then came a push for homogeneity that saw all stock cars become basically the same when it came to their plastic outside shells. They had the same shape, and the only way to tell them apart was the stickers for headlights, grilles and other elements. The bodies were all the same.
This year, automakers are being given more latitude. On what is being called the Gen 6 cars, designers can put their personal touch on 13 separate surfaces on the car’s exterior. A Ford can look more like a Ford, a Chevy like a Chevy. You get the idea. By allowing automakers to hew more to the car’s actual likeness, it may be easy to build fan bases for the cars — and help goose sales.
With Ford’s Fusion being basically new this year, the exposure of having the front end and taillights in the same shape of the car could help build interest and loyalty. Ford is hoping, too, that it doesn’t pay a price for design that may not be as aerodynamic as the outgoing version. Ford doesn’t want to give up its record, having won three of the past four big races at Daytona.
Ford isn’t alone. Toyota and Chevrolet have also been tweaking their NASCAR entries this year to make them feel more like the real brand.