Sean’s article has inspired this short footnote.
J Mays replaced Jack Telnack in 1997 and was responsible for Ford’s sprawling empire of brands. Sean showed us some of Mays’ retrofuturism. What else did he do while in office ? The worst vehicle – in design terms – that Mays can be held responsible for is the 2005 Ford 500 which married VW geometry with softer, more amorphous shapes from somewhere else entirely.
Mays himself was critical of the car and yet it emerged under his direction. The proportions are wrong. Then look at the organic headlamps and then note how they jar with the VW Passat-like arcing roofline. The underlying shape of the 500 is allegedly derived from the 2000 Ford Prodigy concept car which seems to be a mix of VW and Opel. The flat surfaces suggest to me the Opel Vectra C (though that was revealed in 2002) and the roof suggests Passat.
Mays is also responsible in some way for the failure to use Gerry McGovern’s research for Lincoln, which was prodigious and uniformly excellent. Instead we got things like the 2014 MKS and MKZ. Ford of Europe is making some very good cars but the design direction is, at best, uncertain and undistinguished. I think that Mays was certainly a man of some ability but those abilities could not be used inside Ford which would not give to Mays the powers needed to ensure his values were manifested in the cars made.