Ford

16 Cars and Vans

A couple of weeks back I was approached to do a set of 3 illustrations of classic sports cars at a fixed price. The direction was specific about the view being straight ahead from the front of the car. The end goal was that these were going to be used in a printed calendar, and after the first 3, I’d get 9 more to work on.

Unfortunately, I fell victim to the bait and switch tactic or would you rather do these on spec, or for free, for a ton of exposure, and a possible cut of the profits. The thing is I don’t work for free, and unfortunately, the client’s proposal left me flat. So, I decided to say thanks but no thanks, keep my files and go back to my office.

The thing is though, it got me all inspired, so I did 12 more over the course of a couple weeks, and shared a few on social media. Now, I’m releasing them to the world. I really don’t have any interest in making money off of these. It was a fun little exercise with Adobe Illustrator that I feel good about. Each image is sized for the iPhone 6 screen resolution.

All I ask is if you download them and use them, give credit where credit is due. Let people know I am the guy that made these. Don’t resell them to make money and don’t take my name off of them. Tell people where you got them, and ask them to respect the same request about selling and credit.

Enjoy.

XKE

280z 356 911 917 2002 A-100 Alfa California Corvan DB5 Falcon Merak Miura Quatro XKE

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Art of the Car Concours. It All About the Details.

This afternoon my friend Tim and I spent a few hours at the Art of the Car Concours on the grounds of the Kansas City Art Institute. The annual event is a scholarship fund raiser for the school, and over the last seven years has grown into a world class automotive event. The two of us spent a hot humid summer afternoon, walking through 100 or so vehicles taking photos, admiring the design styling, engineering, and distinction of the cars shown. At one point both of us commented on how each car, each brand, had unique looks that set it apart from it’s contemporaries.

Both of us remarked that in todays world, most people can’t tell a Nissan from a Honda, from a Volkswagen, from a Chevy, from a Hyundai, from a Kia, from a Ford (although Ford is arguably ahead of the curve in distinctive styling). Aside from a few marquee brands, or higher end autos, most look the same, and no one making a car for the masses puts the attention to detail in things like badging any more. Looking at a 49 Ford coupe, and 66 Covair it made me long for the days when each car brand looked distinct, and the exterior styling was as important as the creature comforts like iPhone connectivity that we lust after today.

Below is a sampling of some of the photos that I took today. Realistically some of these shots are for cars that would cost a small fortune in todays dollars. None the less, the attention to detail, the quality of materials, the small things, are what made these cars part of the golden age of automobile design. Personally I wish the big three, Ford, Chrysler, and Chevy would step up to the plate and bring this kind of styling back. Raise the bar, set a new standard based on vintage design styling that was in many ways simply better. No I don’t want the old school technology. What I want is a car that looks as cool as these, with all the comforts my 2013 model offers me today.

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Four American Cars I’d Buy Today, if They Were Available as a 2 Door Coupe.

In the world of American cars, I’ve never understood why so many models are only offered as a sedan, and not as a coupe. I have nothing against four door cars, I simply prefer the look and slightly smaller size of the two door model. Part of this probably stems from the fact that when I was growing up, four doors cars were driven by my “uncool” parents, or my grandparents. Perhaps that stigma has held with me in some subconscious form. Then again, it might just be my design aesthetic coming in to play.

20121223-121740.jpgThere are four American cars I would have purchased if they had been available as a coupe. Two of them are available in Europe as two door coupes already. The Ford Focus hatchback, and the new Dodge Dart, which Alfa Romeo sells as the Giulietta in both a two door coupe, and as a hot two door hatchback. The other two vehicles I would have jumped on if they were available as two door models are the Chevy Volt, and the Chrysler 200.

20121223-121533.jpgAll four of these cars look good as four door models, with improved styling that can compete with European, and Japanese cars. This applies to both interior and exterior styling. Having driven each one of these models, I’d also say that build quality, amenities, and materials rival their foreign counterparts as well. After decades of poorly design, poorly styled and subpar materials, the American car companies (especially Ford and Chrysler. Chevy your design department needs to step up) are making a comeback.

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A fifth car that I would consider is the new Lincoln Mk Z, although I hate the grill styling. The folks at Lincoln should have stuck with the 1960’s grill style they were using about ten years ago. It looked better, and it stood out from the crowd. None the less, this is another Ford product that would look stunning with the lines of a two door coupe, instead of a four door sedan.

20121223-122308.jpgAll of these models need to look at Cadillac and what they did with XTS sedan and the CTS coupe. This is a great example of the same basic model available in two styles, and yes I’d buy a CTS coupe. I think it looks as good as any European, or Japanese luxury car on the market today.

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“Fiestagram” Ford’s European Instagram Campaign.

No matter how you slice it this is pretty impressive. Ford in conjunction with Instagram, and Facebook have created the first Instagram based campaign.

Created by Blue Hive, the campaign centered around image challenges used to highlight new features of the Ford Fiesta for the European launch. Participants simply used the hash tag Fiestagram, and cross posted to Twitter and Facebook to enter the contest. To extend the campaigns reach, Ford displayed the images in all three social networks as well as physical galleries, and on digital billboards that displayed images in real-time as they were uploaded to Instagram.

Images that were judged to be particularly impressive or made it to Instagram’s “Popular” page received weekly prizes from Ford, with the final prize being a 2012 Ford Fiesta. Watch the video and pay close attention to the numbers. For a low cost campaign, this developed serious buzz and page linger times, with the average viewer spending almost 3 and a half minutes within the microsite on each visit.

 

FutureLAB Interactive Car Windows for GM.

Just in case you missed it, earlier this week all the major news networks announced how GM is back on top as the number 1 automobile manufacturer in the world. Ford is making huge gains, and both companies are being heralded for design innovation and product quality. Hopefully Detroit will do something about the plethora of over sized trucks and SUV’s that clog American roads, by making smaller more stylish cars that appeal to the masses the way the previously mentioned did over the last 20 years. I mean seriously, do you really need a Ford F-250 with a Triton V-10 engine if you don’t work on a farm or haul something daily? Anyway, I digress…

Recently GM, in challenged the FutureLAB at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel to make back seat windows interactive for kids. “Windows of Opportunity” project is designed to take advantage emerging technologies, and convert the rear windows of a car into an interactive playground for kids. The students from  FutureLAB worked directly with General Motors Human-Machine Interface Group to explore the possibilities of the future. The result of their research and work is an entertainment center built around applications designed to deliver gaming, social networking, information, and creativity for kids.

It is this kind of exploration, and design development that will help propel GM, and other US car makers forward over the next few years. GM, and Ford having conquered the challenges of fit, finish, and style need something to set themselves apart from European, Japanese, and Korean brands in the future. This kind of technology might just do the trick.

One Piece At a Time, from Jonathan Brand

I love paper sculptures. I have since I was a kid. I think it all comes back to that thing of cutting out shapes, gluing stuff together, getting all hands on and making something.

Jonathan Brand’s latest exhibit titled “One Piece at a Time” is a paper sculpture of a 1969 Ford Mustang that has been disassembled and shown as a sum of it’s parts. Brand’s method is a bit more high tech than the way I used to make paper sculptures. Brand starts with 3D drawings on a computer which are printed on a large format ink jet printer, then cut folded and glued together.

No matter how he creates, these the end result is really nice. For more info on his process and the exhibit, check out his site here.

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Jonathan’s work is represented by Hosfelt Gallery in New York.

Design Friday. J. Mays.

I have always been fascinated with automotive design. The automobile is such a pervasive part of American culture, and your automobile is an object that you are in daily contact with. The design of this one object has such a direct impact on your daily life, and yet it is for so many something that very little thought is given to on a daily basis. I mean seriously, when was the last time you were sitting in your car and you thought “Wow look at the detail that went into the design of the top of the dash. Look at how the top of the console sweeps into the dash line in a perfect parabolic arc.” Yes I know there are some people out there that are this obsessive but most aren’t. One designer that has revolutionized the field of Automotive Design, is J. Mays. What Mays has done for the auto industry, and especially Ford has been pure design genius.

As vice-president of design for the Ford Motor Company, J. MAYS is one of the world’s most influential automotive designers. Before joining Ford in 1997, the US-born Mays worked for Audi, BMW and developed the Volkswagen Concept One, which became the new VW Beetle.

Mays studied automotive design at Art Center in Pasadena, California in the latter half of the 1970’s.A period that for the most part can be thought of as the dark ages of American Automotive design. MAys graduated in 1980, and started his career with Audi, making a name for himself in the automotive design community with his successful redesign of the Audi 80. After just three years with Audi Mays moved to BMW where he worked on designs for the legendary BMW 5 and 8 series. Yet after just one year at BMW he returned to Audi in 1984 to work on the Audi 100, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Polo and the Audi AVUS concept car.

The Audi Avus Quattro

Q. Early in your career you left the US to work in Europe, how did this influence your development as an automotive designer?

A. Greatly. In Germany, I learned how to construct an automobile: versus how to style one.

In 1989 Mays returned to the United States as the Chief Designer of Volkswagen’s design studio in Simi Valley, California where he developed Volkswagen “Concept One”, which proved so popular as a concept car at international auto shows, and with Sr. Volkswagen staff that it was later developed into the New Beetle. Mays design of the Concept One was a breath-taking leap forward in automotive design. It showed that a concept car can be more that an exercise in visual styling, that the design can lead and find its way into production vehicles. Today, the New Beetle remains one of Volkswagen’s most popular cars world-wide. It’s iconic look and design styling helping to separate it from a sea of ordinary cars.

The Concept One, which became the New Beetle. I love the glass roof.

Q. Which of the cars you developed as a designer, rather than as a design director, are you most proud of? And why?

A. As a designer, I am most proud of my work on the Audi AVUS concept and the Volkswagen Beetle Concept One – probably because they resonated so greatly with so many people.

In 1997 Mays joined Ford Motor Company taking the position of Vice-President of Design. As the head of design at Ford, Mays was responsible for the design direction of the company’s marquee brands: Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo. (Ford no longer owns Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, or Aston Martin). Mays influence over these marquee brands during the late 1990’s and early 200’s can be seen on almost every vehicle they produced. Jaguar’s looks were updated, and the fit and finish on these cars were greatly improved. Volvo moved from being known as a rolling box, to a sexier more sophisticated look with smooth contours while remaining true to Volvo’s original design heritage.

Q. Can you describe your contribution to the development of a particular Ford concept car or production model as an illustration?

A. Let’s take the Ford Mondeo, which is sold in Europe. My role was to lay the foundation for the design of the entire Ford brand, not just to help style a nameplate. Once I established that foundation – or established that DNA – in this case for the Blue Oval in Europe, my job became making sure that it really translated to the Mondeo itself.

Since joining Ford in 1997, he has overseen the development of the new Ford Thunderbird and Ford Explorer, as well as such concept cars as the Jaguar F-Type and Volvo Safety Car. Mays also broke with industry tradition by commissioning a designer with no previous automotive experience – Marc Newson – to create a concept car, the Ford 021C.

Marc Newson designed 021c concept

Q. Which of the Ford projects you have been involved in so far are you most excited by? And which future projects excite you most?

A. The Thunderbird and StreetKa both have been exciting products. As for a great one further out on the horizon.….let’s just say there’s a Baby Aston Martin on the way that will turn more than a few heads.

One of J. Mays chief criticisms of his fellow automotive designers is that they design to impress their peers rather than the public. In his role as vice-president of design at the Ford Motor Company, Mays is trying to change that by encouraging his global design team network to absorb and express the same influences as designers in other areas: from furniture and fashion to architecture.

The Super Chief concept's cabin

Q. You have often been quoted as saying that automotive designers have designed to impress other automotive designers for far too long, why? Is this situation changing? And, if so, why?

A. Designers aren’t easily able to think as customers. And, because they tend to socialise together, dress the same way and have the same black furniture in their living rooms, they tend to have a very isolated – and inaccurate – view of the world. That’s slowly changing, at least at Ford. Because as we start to separate and amplify our brands, it’s becoming clear that each of the brands is a sub-set of the customers themselves. Ultimately, it’s our job to design for those customers, and part of that is better understanding them.

The Ford Airstream Hybrid

The Ford Super Chief Concept

The instrument cluster for the Bronco concept

A personal favorite. The redesigned Ford GT.

The Ford Start

Ford Start's interior design