It is easy to envy the job of a road test editor for a magazine or web site. After all, when it comes to the world of automotive enthusiasts, you’re pretty much living the dream. Often flown at other’s expense to exotic locations, you’re wined and dined in expensive establishments and given the latest high performance hardware to thrash around in. Other times, you just get really neat stuff to park in your driveway and make your neighbors jealous.
Generally, the only rule is ‘bring it back in one piece’ and given today’s anti-lock braking, electronic stability control, hugely capable tires and other modern developments, it’s pretty hard to break that rule. So, imagine that you are on a quarter-mile track, running some brake tests for which you run up to 70 mph and stand on the brake pedal and mostly let the electronics keep the shiny side up. Say you’ve done this dozens of times on all manner of performance cars, but this time the pedal goes right to the floor just as a metallic ‘snap’ registers in your brain.
Perhaps it is not always such an enviable position to be in because that is just what happened recently to Motor Trend editor, Scott Mortara, while evaluating a Boss 302 Mustang. Fortunately, the experienced tester was able to slow the car by downshifting the manual transmission and get off the track without serious incident. What followed from there, as reported by MT senior editor Angus McKenzie, is both a PR nightmare and a curiously unsatisfying conclusion for all.
An immediate and thorough investigation by Ford, which also involved stopping production temporarily at the Flat Rock, MI, assembly plant, revealed no inherent problem with production cars. The test car, however, appeared to have its brake pedal incorrectly assembled, so that a pivot pin sheared under the extreme load and master cylinder actuation was lost.
No conclusive evidence has been identified as to how this car’s brake pedal got to the state it was in, but once you let these cars out into the hands of others, anything is possible. This is the type of thing that Ford will continue to pursue internally until there is nothing left to investigate. In the meantime, this set of freaky circumstances serves well to remind all of us that bantha poo-doo happens and paying continual attention while driving is highly justified.