Ford Mustang Designer Revives an American Classic Hau Thai-Tang was a young boy living in Vietnam when he saw his first Ford Mustang. He fell in love with the car -- and its American image. Now he's in charge of designing the latest version of the classic pony car.

Ford Mustang Designer Revives an American Classic

Ford Mustang Designer Revives an American Classic

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Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's director of Advanced Product Creation and Special Vehicle Team, was in charge of designing the new Mustang. Ford Motor Co. hide caption

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Ford Motor Co.

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.