Ford has made every conceivable effort to tie its new battery-electric SUV to the Mustang brand. From the pony emblem on the front to certain design cues, the Mustang Mach E looks like it belongs in the Mustang stable. However, apparently the parallels with Mustang almost didn’t happen.

In a rare move Ford has released early sketches of what the Mustang Mach E almost looked like. Issuing the photos to The Detroit News Ford openly admits that the first draft of their electric vehicle was lackluster.

“It was just a car,” said Ted Cannis, global director of electrification at Ford, in a 2019 company video.

Now Ford CEO Jim Farley took his feedback even further, saying “When I first saw it … I said, ‘Oh, boy. Houston, we have a problem.’ The vehicle looked like a science project.”

A science project is a fitting description. The original sketch almost looks like Ford designers were inspired by the Toyota Prius. The overall shape is frumpy and layered with awkward design traits.

Thankfully, Farley intervened on the project. He made the bold recommendation of aligning the electric vehicle project with the Mustang team. The move is part of a broader strategy at Ford to better leverage its iconic nameplates. At first pass many in Ford were against rocking the boat of one of its most iconic nameplates, but eventually everyone got onboard. Chairman Bill Ford was among the last to get onboard with the idea of expanding the Mustang nameplate.

There’s always going to be a debate as to whether or not the Mustang Mach E is a real Mustang. What isn’t up for debate is the fact that aligning the program with Mustang yielded a far better looking vehicle. Next we’ll see which icon Ford aligns its upcoming small electric SUV with.