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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mustang Sydney: Ford’s partnership with actress Sydney Sweeney a fit for both parties

By Adam Graham Detroit News

Just call her Mustang Sydney.

Sydney Sweeney, the bombshell 26-year-old actress from Spokane who is fast becoming one of Hollywood’s brightest young stars, has completed her latest collaboration with Ford Motor Co.

In partnership with the Dearborn automaker, Sweeney designed a custom Mustang GT, which was given away to a fan as part of a contest that launched in late January.

The winner will see her vehicle, which is painted in a Robin’s Egg Blue exterior, for the first time at this week’s New York International Auto Show.

For Sweeney – the two-time Emmy nominee who stars on HBO’s “Euphoria” and helped push December’s “Anyone But You” to a worldwide box office gross of more than $200 million, making it the highest-grossing R-rated romantic comedy in more than a decade – the business arrangement with Ford is more than just another brand in her portfolio of endorsements, which also includes deals with Armani, Kérastase hair care products, Bai flavored water and Laneige cosmetics.

Sweeney is a noted car enthusiast who loves getting under the hood of vehicles and who restores cars in her downtime away from filming.

“This partnership with Ford has been a dream come true!” Sweeney said this week in a statement to the Detroit News. “When I’m spending long days on set, it’s so grounding to just go to the shop after work and work on my latest car project.

“I love working on my own cars, and I hope that I inspire more girls to try things that may have been told aren’t meant for them. Seeing a company like Ford step up and empower women is really meaningful.”

For Ford, the partnership – which included the March 2023 launch of a “Syd’s Garage” workwear line, which included overalls, work pants, a bandana and a corduroy baseball cap, all of which quickly sold out from Ford’s online store – forms a bond with one of Gen Z’s hottest stars and gives it access to her fanbase, which isn’t necessarily already part of Ford’s bread and butter customer base.

“You’re helping us turn the company into a more relevant company for lots of people,” Ford CEO Jim Farley told Sweeney on an episode of his “Drive” podcast last month.

Ford got wind of Sweeney’s enthusiasm for cars, and Ford in particular, when she restored a 1969 Bronco during the pandemic and posted videos of her progress on TikTok.

Ford reps reached out to Sweeney to gauge her interest in working together, “and the more we talked to her, the more we realized how deep her connection with the brand was,” said Erica Martin, marketing communications manager at Ford.

Sweeney grew up in a family of mechanics, and she learned how to drive in her grandfather’s Ford F-100. “She was super, super game and interested,” Martin said.

She worked on the Bronco at the Los Angeles garage of Emory Motorsports, owned by Rod Emory, who has known Sweeney since she was 9 years old. (She was a classmate of his son Zayne and is good friends with his daughter Jayde.)

Emory cleared a space in his shop for Sweeney and her vintage red Bronco, which she purchased off of Bring a Trailer, which is like eBay for automobiles.

And Sweeney went to work on the truck for the next year and some change, swapping out the brakes, refitting it from a manual to an automatic – Sweeney drives stick, but it’s not necessarily conducive to L.A. traffic – changing out the hood latch, repainting the grill, installing chrome bumpers and more.

“She would come in every couple of weeks and work on it for a few days,” says Emory. “The car thing is kind of an escape for her: She knows she can come here to the workshop and she can just be herself and she can check out from all the noise out there. She can work on her car, and nobody here treats her like an actress. She’s just Syd.”

Sweeney grew up in Spokane and northern Idaho and scored her first acting role when she was 12.

She appeared on episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” in her teens and early 20s, but her breakthrough came in 2019 when she was cast on HBO’s “Euphoria” as the sweet and erratic Cassie Howard.

That rocketed her to fame and garnered her a substantial young, online fanbase.

She followed it with roles on the first season of “The White Lotus” – in 2022 she was a double Emmy nominee for “White Lotus” and “Euphoria” – and last year’s “Reality.”

December’s “Anyone But You,” a romantic comedy in which she starred alongside “Top Gun: Maverick’s” Glen Powell, became a surprise box office hit after its pre-Christmas release.

Earlier this month, Sweeney hosted “Saturday Night Live,” and last week her horror movie “Immaculate,” in which she stars as a nun from Metro Detroit, hit theaters. (Sweeney also starred in last month’s superhero debacle “Madame Web,” which she cracked a joke about on “SNL.”)

Sweeney has built an audience of 19.2 million Instagram followers, and her Syd’s Garage TikTok, which she uses to track her car builds, has 1.7 million followers.

The Ford deal allows the car company to tap into Sweeney’s base and helps her show a different side to her personality, Ford’s Martin said.

“She’s able to be herself,” said Martin, who has worked with Sweeney during the campaigns, which included a second workwear line in November 2023.

“What you’re seeing is the real Syd, and I think she enjoys that Ford is able to help her show that side to the world, and not have her be seen as just a gorgeous bombshell on the red carpet. Which she is, but she also has this really authentic side to her: She does roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty, and she wants to do everything herself, and she knows what she’s doing in the garage.

“And I think that’s as beneficial for her as it is for us, to be able to show that side of herself to the world.”

After finishing the Bronco project, Sweeney went about restoring a vintage 1965 Mustang, which she also scored on Bring a Trailer. She named the car Britney, a dual homage to the car’s Brittany Blue color, as well as pop icon Britney Spears.

That restoration project led to Sweeney custom-designing a 2024 Ford Mustang GT, which includes Sweeney’s heart bolt emblem embossed on the leather seats as well as the outside of the car. Only two of the vehicles were made: one for the contest winner, which was pulled from approximately 5,000 submissions, and one for Sweeney herself.

The contest concluded on Wednesday, and the future of Sweeney and Ford’s partnership is to be determined; Sweeney’s next restoration project is a Porsche, which she’ll be working on at Emory’s garage, but Ford hopes to keep Sweeney in its family.

“I could not be more pleased with the campaign,” Martin said, “and Sydney’s been an amazing partner.”