Car Culture

Siemens' autonomous 1965 Mustang will attempt the Goodwood hill climb

The first autonomous road car to climb the Duke of Richmond's hill will be a 53-year-old American pony car. Oh, the irony.

Matt Woods Photography/Siemens

The future has arrived. The autonomous overlords are getting stronger every day, and now they're here to take control of your classic cars. 

Well, that's not exactly the case yet, but if this autonomous 1965 Ford Mustang serves as a crystal ball and actually does what it's supposed to, this could turn restomodding culture on its head.

That's right, this is an autonomous classic Mustang, and it's going to be climbing the Duke of Richmond's hill at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed. The bright folks at Siemens, in conjunction with the brainy souls at England's Cranfield University, engineered this classic car with modern computing power, and it is one of the best examples yet of how past and future technology can coexist in harmony.

This 1965 Mustang will pair its period-correct 289 V8 with cutting-edge computing power to make a landmark hillclimb run at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Matt Woods Photography/Siemens

If you're thinking the old pony was retrofitted with electric or hydrogen power to match modern braun with its electronic brains, think again. This '65 still gets its power from a fuel-swilling 289-cubic-inch V8 engine sending 200 horsepower through a three-speed transmission, and according to Goodwood's website, the car can be driven like a regular Mustang with just the flick of a switch.

The silver livery commemorates the Goodwood Festival of Speed's 25th, or "silver" anniversary, but if you gaze deeply into the car's racing stripes, you'll notice that they are filled with zeroes and ones... because autonomy.

Silver livery with zeros and ones in the racing stripes commemorates Goodwood's 25th anniversary and the computing power hidden underneath this classic American icon.

Matt Woods Photography/Siemens

Those familiar with Goodwood know the hillclimb features automotive wonders from myriad eras. We especially appreciate how this autonomous 1965 Mustang merges one of history's most celebrated machines and blends it with today's most talked-about emerging technology.

The 25th Goodwood Festival of Speed is a landmark year for showcasing autonomous driving technology, as this car will be one of two autonomous vehicles to climb the Goodwood House's front driveway this year. The driverless future racing series, Roborace is set to attempt the first-ever autonomous race car hillclimb at this week's Goodwood as well.

The autonomous Mustang is scheduled to climb the former Lord March's hill July 12, and will continue to climb twice a day until the festival concludes July 15. When not harnessing its binary-locomotive talents, the classic will be on display in the event's main paddock where you'll likely find people bewildered at how Goodwood's first autonomous road car is riding on rear leaf springs that appear to be borrowed from the 16th century.

Moving back to the 21st century, the Mustang will be employing 3D location scanning technology from software development company Bentley Systems, which will support the GPS tech the Mustang will be relying upon to make its 1.16-mile ascent. However, this car was designed solely for autonomy at Goodwood, so don't expect to see it arriving driverless at your local cruise-in any time soon.

Color us hopeful that the autonomous Mustang makes it up the hill successfully, as we hate the thought of this classic's metal-flake flanks getting marred by the infamous Flint Wall. Thankfully, there will be someone sitting in the driver's seat ready to take over the controls if the ones and zeros decide to get mischievous.

The Mustang is designed to make it up the hill without driver input, but there will be someone behind the wheel to protect those pretty flanks just in case.

Matt Woods Photography/Siemens