When I presented the Faction yesterday, I thought I would refresh readers’ memories about some of the other Ingeni-era cars.
The Ford 24/7 sprang to mind. When I checked up I encountered the fickle and fragile nature of memory: the 24/7 appeared in 2000, quite some time before the Ingeni studio opened. Let’s look at it anyway. It’s a nice coincidence that we are scraping about in the annals of car design just as the LA Motor Show is also on these pages.
Let’s go back to the cars’ unveiling (there were three variants). At the time the motoring press jeered at the 24/7’s square looks (someone even call the 24/7 ugly). Ford clearly pointed out that the shapes were supposed to be simple so as to direct attention at the technology. It seems that only lately is the view coming around to see the cars in their true light. Even if Ford claimed to have left the exteriors unstyled they really meant minimally styled (which is still a lot of work). Only the uninformed think that a boxy car actually is boxy. In truth, it’s rather lovely.
The interior photos are the ones that really matter but I would like to contrast this with the current batch of concept cars.
You’ll notice that the interior is a bit more styled, despite their best efforts. The bit that is right is that there is a lot of attention paid to controls that are not related to HVAC and driving. Rather beautifully, all of that is reduced to an oblong from which the steering column sprouts.
Notice that the steering wheel looks very Citroen with its single, albeit broad spoke. The rest of the lump of dashboard is some manner of touch-sensitive interface. While it is obvious with hindsight that using the
whole surface means a lot of it is out of reach, the alternative provides too little space for controls. What we have now is essentially the same old interior designs but with a daft slab awkwardly inserted into the landscape. Ford were trying to get at the idea that whole interior (or at least the dashboard) would need to be re-considered in order to accommodate the connectivity and interaction that Ford’s prescient designers had in mind. But despite this lesson, the actual evolution of the touchscreen has featured small screens fighting to space in conventional layouts, with some exceptions so today we get this, technogothic:
What I have to do is to find some more of the Ingenic cars – but this detour was worth the time.
9 thoughts on “Then and Now: 2000 Ford 24/7”
Great to see this again – it proves that it was not that long ago that concepts were still truly original and imaginative. Ford’s non-styling is sizzlingly refreshing when set against the prevalence of hopeless over-styling that one gets today. Well worth the efforts of your research, thanks.
Perhaps it is work like this that justified the expense of Ingeni. These designers seemed to be freed from the comparatively drab routines of Basildon and Merkenich.
The chief designer was Gerry “I´m Gerry McGovern” McGovern, by the way. If I was Ford I´d re-start Ingeni again. Much of what passes for advanced styling lacks the blue-skies latitude these people had. What´s also necessary is the will on the part of management to let the ideas out into production.
Ironic that, as the London dweller, I’m carrying on arguing this point, but interesting design is surely a state of mind, not location. Surely this is a result of J Mays saying “give me some blue sky stuff” rather than “take a walk down Brewer Street, look in some sex shop windows (alas it was probably already gentrified by then) and come back with some ideas”. Good designers are supposed to trade on their imagination.
Interesting that the interface is applied over the entire face of the dash. Today’s variations on a tablet stuck to the dashboard are very much dictated by budget and technology. With time LCD displays will become cheaper and more flexible, achieve greater viewing angles and become available in a variety of shapes. Eventually they will migrate on to more surfaces, not unlike the interfaces on the bridge of the Enterprise in Star Trek.
Actually, looking at has reminded me how fucking po-faced and boring cars are these days. I’m off …..
…. well, maybe later.
Well, they didn’t actually bring cars looking like this to the market bach in 2000, did they?
But I really feel with you, Sean. Richard’s LA snippets were deeply depressing.
In a way Simon, they did. Just as the Faction was obviously influenced by Audis, so the 24/7 has something of J Mays origami Beetle. And, although I look at this and find it exciting, maybe it’s like a joke you hear once and laugh uproariously at but, by the time you hear it repeated for the 100th time, you no longer find funny. The Beetle seemed to wear thin for me very quickly.
J Mays and Chris Bird plus Gerry “…” McGovern produced some excellent ideas in concept and production form. The cars from 1997 to 2005 were broadly very good. Management kicked back and I see Martin Smith’s tenure as a decision to go in a MOR design direction.