Ford builds Mustang 1,000 feet up on the Empire State Building

To celebrate the Mustang's 50th anniversary, Ford recreates a challenging publicity stunt from 1965 by building a Mustang on the Empire State Building's observation deck.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

Mustang on observation deck
This Mustang is way, way up in the air. Ford

Cars aren't naturally meant to be 1,000 feet up in the air, but that didn't stop Ford on its quest to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mustang in style.

It all started back in 1965. Ford pulled off quite the publicity stunt by assembling a white convertible on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Decades later, the company took another shot at it, this time with a 2015 convertible in bright yellow.

Building a car atop the Empire State Building takes a lot of planning, six weeks' worth, to be more precise. "The deck is too high to reach with a portable crane from the street, and the spire that towers more than 400 feet above that narrow deck makes helicopter delivery impossible," said George Samulski, Ford North America design fabrication manager.

Everything had to fit into elevators and squeeze through a 3-foot door opening in order to reach the 86th floor. To achieve this, the convertible was cut into pieces for transport. A similar approach was taken back in 1965, the only other time a car has been on display on the observation deck.

The crew had 6 hours in the middle of the night to move the pieces and do the assembly while the deck was closed to the public. They planned ahead by building a model of the smallest elevator opening and carrying the pieces through on practice runs.

Visitors to the observation deck will be able to check out the vehicle until the deck closes in the early morning hours of April 18, when all that handiwork will be disassembled and whisked away.

The only slight disappointment with this stunt is that you won't be able to take the car on a test drive and do doughnuts on the observation deck. You'll have to be content with just looking at the second car to ever achieve such lofty heights.