Billed as a blend of Italian design with American muscle, Ford Motor Co.’s Mustang by Giugiaro concept is set to roll out at the L.A. auto show this week.

Credit for the initial idea for the specialty Mustang goes to Fabrizio Giugiaro, styling director at Italian coachbuilder ItalDesign SpA, who pitched the concept to Ford Chief Creative Officer J Mays in early 2005.

The two designers collaborated on the final concept car.

“When we saw the new Mustang, we knew two things: It was the best we’d seen since the original and we had to get our hands on one,” Giugiaro says. “We still believe it’s important to show the automotive world pure exercises in style that interpret key models reflecting the history and image of important brands.”

The Mustang concept is a dramatic departure from the production GT on which it is based.

The vibrant-orange pony car is 1.5 ins. (3.8 cm) lower than the production version and adds 1.2 ins. (3.0 cm) to the front, gradually expanding in width to 3.2 ins. (8.0 cm) toward the rear.

A longer hood and barely visible trunk give the vehicle a fastback profile, Ford says, adding that the alterations “reinforce the freedom and rebellion synonymous with Mustang.”

Other noticeable design cues include a single curved glass panel that bridges the windshield and rear window, serving as the concept’s roof; vertically hung doors that open at the touch of a button; and 3-part taillights inspired by the ‘64 Mustang.

The reworked interior carries the Mustang theme throughout, with horsehide-covered headrests, seat cushions and backrests.

Modifications also lurk under the sheetmetal, with an enhanced powertrain and chassis supplied by Ford Racing.

The concept is powered by an intercooled twin-screw supercharged version of the Ford GT’s 4.6L V-8 engine, boosting power from 300 hp to 500 hp, matching the output of the Mustang-based Shelby GT 500, powered by the bigger 5.4L V-8.

To accommodate the extra power, the engine air intake was increased, a high-efficiency Ford Racing aluminum radiator was added and racing mufflers were installed.

Handling was enhanced with the addition of a tailored Ford Racing Handling Pack, which includes dynamic-tuned dampers, lowering springs and anti-sway bars.

“The Mustang by Giugiaro drives as good as it looks,” Giugiaro says. “After taking it to the limits on streets outside of Turin, I can honestly say this car was well worth the 30,000 hours of blood, sweat and tears that we invested to create a modern performance classic.”

bpope@wardsauto.com