How to put a Ford Mustang on top of the Empire State Building

Ford-Mustang-taken-apart-Empire-State-BuildingFor the two days preceding the New York Auto Show, Ford will put a 2015 Ford Mustang convertible for display on the top of the Empire State Building, again. Again? Yes, they’ve pulled that trick before, in 1965 to be exactly. So for everyone who will be in the Big Apple on April 16th and 17th, make sure to take the elevator up to the observation deck, and observe a bright yellow Mustang.

Except it won’t be a stock Mustang, as it is impossible to use a helicopter to fly the car all the way up, because the huge steeple on what was once the world’s tallest building makes that exercise a bit too tricky. Instead, the car will take the same route you will take to see it: the elevator. Only problem is: the entrance is only 36 inches (90 cm) wide, and the Mustang will have to fit through that in order to reach the 86th floor.

Ford-Mustang-classic-1965-taken-apart-Empire-State-BuildingSo what the engineers of an external engineering firm will do, is chop the brand-new, not even available to customers, Mustang into 6 pieces: two halves of the front end, two halves of the rear end, the cockpit floor and the windscreen. Then those six pieces will be taken up the elevator as soon as the observation deck closes April 15th, leaving the engineers only five hours to re-assemble those pieces in time for the opening of the display the next day.

In the process, they will convert the Mustang from a unibody structure to an SUV-like body-on-frame structure, using a custom made frame onto which the pieces will be bolted. This is necessary because chopping the car into pieces will hurt the structural strength of the monocoque.

You can see the process in this video:


Ford-Mustang-classic-1965-taken-apart-Empire-State-Building-New-YorkThe same strategy was used back in 1965, except the classic Mustang was a bit smaller than the current one, so it needed to be chopped in only four parts, which were then bolted onto the frame chassis. The difference is that this month, the Mustang has already been chopped into pieces and trial runs with a mock-elevator have proven the trick is going to work. While 49 years ago, only calculations had been made beforehand, and the car was disassembled right outside the building on 33rd street, only for the crew to find out the steering column was a quarter of an inch (6,5 millimeters) too tall for the elevator, so it cost them quite a bit of valuable time carefully maneuvering to make it fit.

Then Porsche had an easier task four years ago, when they decided to display the brand-new Panamera on the 94th floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center right before the car’s official introduction at the 2009 Shanghai Auto Show. Maybe the fact that the SWFC building was a bit more modern than the Empire State building, and thus had an extra wide service elevator, had something to do with it. Still, it was quite a challenge to get the Porsche upright into the elevator, undamaged.