A small part of how the halo Mustang came together.

It’s hard not to love the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. The halo pony car has an over-aggressive presence that stands out from the rest of the Mustang pack – and that’s by design (literally), says Mustang exterior designer Chris Stevens.

During an interview with Motor1.com (more on that soon), the artist shared with us a special sketch that dates back to the first six months of the GT500’s development. During that period, Stevens remembers coming up with a sketch that was meant to be as provocative as possible.

He shares, “It’s gotta be pretty damn brutal, and it’s gotta look like it breathes in a bunch of air...it had to look like 1,000 horsepower.” And with those guidelines, he penned what ultimately became one of the earliest design directions for the GT500. The sketch you see beat out others in a process that Stevens described like being on a reality TV show.

OGGT500
Sketch by Chris Stevens, Ford Motor Co.

“It was kinda like The Bachelor,” he says. “You had all these guys doing sketches of the car, and if they liked your stuff you got to stay on the program … and I kept getting a rose.” 

From sketch to final roadgoing car, there are some uncanny similarities. Though the rendering’s proportions are overdramatized, the on-paper Mustang’s face set the tone for the real thing. Details like the pre-facelift headlights and blackout panel between the upper and lower grilles made it all the way to production, along with noteworthy details like the Shelby Cobra logo. That said, this sketch is missing the car’s signature striped paint scheme and features a wing much more extreme than the real-life thing.

For Stevens, it’s still hard to believe that his sketch work led the way for the road car’s final look. This realized dream, he says, will eventually lead to buying a Mustang of his own someday. 

Gallery: 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500: First Drive