Barchetta to Bobcat

Ford’s pre-millennial coupé didn’t gestate in an Erlenmeyer flask, but it was something of an amalgam nonetheless. We take a look at the Puma’s moodboard.

Production Puma in the inevitable Moondust Silver. Image RAC

The design theme for the 1997 Ford Puma bridged the blue oval’s early ’90s ovoid, organic design era and the ‘New Edge’ theme which arrived at the dawn of the millennium. But the roots of the Puma programme lie deeper. Continue reading “Barchetta to Bobcat”

A photo for Sunday: We Are the Ones, You Are the Ones Too.

To speak comparatively, this is funnier than a Steve Martin essay: the 1991-1996 Ford Escort. 

1991-1996 Ford Escort (US model).

The US Ford Escort here occupied showrooms from 1991 to 1996. The EU versions straddled this: 1986 to 1992 and 1990 to 1997 (there’s a year when Ford sold all three). In order to Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: We Are the Ones, You Are the Ones Too.”

The bottom half of the glass is empty

… it’s full from the middle up. We’re talking of the 1986 Cadillac Sedan de Ville, naturally.

1986-1993 Cadillac Sedan De Ville

That’s what the photos show. However, more newsworthy is the announcement** that Joel P. is leaving his position as Ford’s European design chief to make way for Amko Leenarts, an RCA alumnus. Previously he oversaw Ford/Lincoln interiors at Dearborn. Joel P. goes back to Dearborn after a few short years to a newly created (read: not very powerful) position. That’s probably because he a) Continue reading “The bottom half of the glass is empty”

The Unease Spirals Down

Recently I discussed how one detail can ruin a car.

Here we see the 1979 Ford Mustang which, overall, can’t claim to be a very strong or admirable bit of work. All the details accumulate to result in a deeply compromised design. Ford really struggled with this. The decision of production engineers to Continue reading “The Unease Spirals Down”

Cars That Could Have Been Citroëns – 1983 Lincoln Quicksilver

We’re definitely not in Kansas any more, Toto. But where in heck are we?

1983 Lincoln Quicksilver by Carrozzeria Ghia. Image: cardesignnews

Acquisitions by Detroit big-hitters was not a phenomenon restricted to the latter-1980’s – it began well before that. Ford had made several stabs at acquiring Ferrari in the late ’60s to no avail, but in 1970, they purchased (from Alessandro de Tomaso of all people) the Italian coachbuilder, Carrozzeria Ghia. In addition to using the Ghia logo as a ‘brougham’ trim level, initially for their European model lines, Ford also used Filippo Sapino’s Ghia studios as an advanced styling skunkworks, commissioning a series of conceptual styling studies and pre-production prototypes over the following two decades. Continue reading “Cars That Could Have Been Citroëns – 1983 Lincoln Quicksilver”

Theme : Rivals – The Cat Takes The Bird

Some Theme Music for our Theme.

In 1964 my Dad made one of his visits to the USA and brought back with him ‘The Latest And The Greatest’ by Chuck Berry. At least that’s how I remember it but, as any Berry anorak will tell you, that album was a compilation record put together by Pye in the UK. So did they export it only for it to be returned, did my Dad become such a Berry fan on his visit that he bought it locally as soon as he came back, or is it all just a false-memory? You never can tell. Continue reading “Theme : Rivals – The Cat Takes The Bird”

Theme: Compromise – The Fiesta Mk.1 – Blood on the Boardroom Floor

So you thought there was only one Fiesta Mk.1? In fact there nearly were two, and the one we never saw almost tore Ford apart.

wolf004

From its inception in 1969, Ford’s small car project had always had inter-continental ambitions. An early project structure saw engines manufactured in Brazil being used in cars made first in Europe, with a production base in Brazil following on, which would not only serve the home market, but would also export to the USA. US and Asia-Pacific production sites would follow. Other visions included a simplified low-powered variant adapted for production in developing countries, a third world car maximum speed of 55-60mph, a 0-50 time of 25-30 seconds, capable of being sold at 50-60% of the price of the cheapest Ford Escort.
Continue reading “Theme: Compromise – The Fiesta Mk.1 – Blood on the Boardroom Floor”

Compromise: On the road to Fiesta – Part 1

Driven to Write looks in depth at the Fiesta’s development.

fiesta-1

Lest it should pass un-noticed, January 2017 is the fortieth anniversary of the Ford Fiesta’s launch in the UK. Production at Ford Germany’s Saarlouis factory began in July 1976, with the core Almusafes plant coming on stream in October 1976, so the lucky continentals were introduced to the car a few months earlier. Continue reading “Compromise: On the road to Fiesta – Part 1”

Mustang Micropost: Compare and Contrast

What do you do when your product’s character derives from a particular look? Here’s how Ford revised the Mustang for 2015.

2015 Ford Mustang and its predecessor (right)
2015 Ford Mustang and its predecessor (right)

The overall change is that Ford have accentuated the horizontal character of the vehicle, front to back. While the old car looked more brutal and Aston-Martin-esque, the new one has smoother blends, and the two features that interrupted the front-to-rear flow are gone: the heavy B-pillar and the J-shaped scallop. At the front the lamps are slimmer and wrap around to the sides, again stressing horizontality and width. I think the previous car looked more masculine and robust. The new one loses some of that in the name of flow. Continue reading “Mustang Micropost: Compare and Contrast”

Micropost: The Granada’s American Cousin

What’s this if not the inspiration for the Euro-Granada from the early 1970’s. 

image

American readers will know more precisely what this is. My diagnosis is no sharper than to say it’s a 1968-1974 Ford Galaxie. The script is the same as on a Mk 1 Granada GLX which we featured here. So, did Merkenich use the same design, sent over in the post from Dearborn?  Continue reading “Micropost: The Granada’s American Cousin”

How Appropriate: Fiestas Made in Mexico

Will the Ford Fiesta one day come from Mexico?content_ford-fiesta-frozen-white-styleeco

According to our colleagues over Automotive News, Ford announced plans to build a small-car assembly plant in Mexico. The investment of $1.6 bn will entail 2800 new jobs by 2020. Not everyone is happy. At the same time, the future manufacturing plans of Ford’s Michigan assembly plant are unclear. The production of the Focus and C-Max at the plant will stop in 2018. The President of the UAW union is worried that this means that the Mexican plant will be replacing the Michigan plant and that the Mexican investment is at the expense of US auto workers. Continue reading “How Appropriate: Fiestas Made in Mexico”

A Photo for Sunday : 1966 Ford Galaxie 500

I’ve always had a soft spot for the stacked headlamp Ford Galaxie 500.

Galaxie 500

In 1965, in a moment of family insanity, my Dad and I nearly agreed that he should get a new 4 door Galaxie. Good sense prevailed in the end since, despite my liking for it, it was a stupid car to buy in the UK – overpriced and unsuited to the roads. Here’s a 1966 two door, spotted in Wandsworth a couple of Sundays ago. It’s got a decent sized 390 cu inch V8 (one down from the big 7 litre) and looks good on a set of obligatory Magnum 500 wheels. Old US barges always look incongruous when you come across them in the UK, which inevitably endears me to the people who are odd enough to keep them. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday : 1966 Ford Galaxie 500”

Oh No, Not Again

Everyone else is doing it so why can’t we? That was the plaintive question asked by Irish folk-rock-pop balladeers the Cranberries in 1993.

2016 Cadillac CT6: caranddriver.com
2016 Cadillac CT6: caranddriver.com

The Cranberry question applies to Ford’s Lincoln division who must be squirming in their corporate seats. The Genesis G90 saloon will be sold with a V8 as we well know and it looks the part. The other day Car & Driver revealed more details of the V8 Cadillac will be fitting to their CT6 which also looks the part. Considering that Genesis is a newish entrant in the upscale V8 market and that Cadillac is selling fewer cars than they were a decade ago (and so short of cash), Ford’s unwillingness to Continue reading “Oh No, Not Again”

2017 Lincoln Continental Facelift

Further to our discussion of the visual attributes of the 2017 Lincoln Continental, here is a view of the current car and one where I generously added more length front and back.

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Put together like this you can see how wrong the Lincoln really is. There is no point in making Lincolns off Ford platforms. They should do it the other way around. It looks like the front wheel is about half a wheel’s diameter too far back on the existing design. It could be that my version would be too long in reality. It just shows you can’t design a car piecemeal. Proportions matter.

Be Careful What You Wish For II

In December 2014 we ran an item about the changing styles of luxury car interiors. 

2017 Lincoln Continental interior in its Rhapsody form.
2017 Lincoln Continental interior in its Rhapsody form: caranddriver.com

A year or so later we find someone answering our calls.

In an article about how Lincoln do not want to copy the Germans, there is also discussion of the Lincoln Continental’s blue interior option. Here is a chance then to see if blue interiors are something that appeal to anyone other than automotive design commentators. My impression is that this is a welcome bit of bravery on the part of Lincoln. The all-blue colourway creates a very pleasant atmosphere that manages to Continue reading “Be Careful What You Wish For II”

Ford’s “Future Vehicle User Experiences”

Ford have announced that they will be investing $4.5 billion in electric vehicles. According to the website the aim is “to create future vehicle user experiences”

2011 Ford Focus Electric. www.totallyelectriccars.com
2011 Ford Focus Electric. http://www.totallyelectriccars.com

The end result is that 40% of its vehicle line up will be electric after they have modified some cars and added others (13 electric nameplates, apparently). Among the changes, the Focus Electric will have a 100 mile range and a quick charge of 80% to Continue reading “Ford’s “Future Vehicle User Experiences””

A Photo Series for Sunday: 1995 Mercury Grand Marquis LS

This makes a change from cars seen around my neighbourhood. It’s a 1995 Mercury Grand Marquis LS, sighted in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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Much to my surprise, some of Sweden’s older city centres have a rather American feel, specifically that part of the US in the north east such as Upstate New York. Gothenburg, where this car was seen, has stone and brick houses on streets lined up in grids. That immediately suggests an American way of town planning which is supposedly rational but disrespects topography and leads to stupidly steep roads among other ill-effects. The major roads of the mid-20th century in Sweden are styled after American freeways and have a similar brutal character: ugly to look at and confusing to drive on.

Looking at the map you realise they are designed to Continue reading “A Photo Series for Sunday: 1995 Mercury Grand Marquis LS”

Can Lincoln Really Do Luxury Luxuriously Enough?

Car and driver headlined an article about Lincoln with wording about the brand’s  focus on luxury over performance. They didn’t really address the point.

2015 Lincoln Continental concept: caranddriver.com
2015 Lincoln Continental concept: caranddriver.com

I’ve been very busy so it’s taken me eleven days to get around to drawing your attention to this one. After the boiler-plate text about there not being any chance of European sales (there will never be European sales of Lincolns), the blog from Car and Driver gets down to the point and notes how luxury not performance is the main focus of the new Continental. This is a theme we like to bang on about at DTW, the by-now tiresome predominance of performance over non-quantitative aspects. You could be cynical and say Continue reading “Can Lincoln Really Do Luxury Luxuriously Enough?”

Looking Back: 2000 Lincoln LS

260,000 examples in a six-year period isn’t bad.

2000 Lincoln LS. It looked questionable when new. Fifteen years later I see Astra wheel arches and crude detailing on the front bumper´s chrome: wikipedia.org
2000 Lincoln LS. It looked questionable when new. Fifteen years later I see Astra wheel arches and crude detailing on the front bumper´s chrome: wikipedia.org

The LS racked up a few awards, namely Motor Trend’s car of the year 2000 and it was nominated as American Car of the Year though it was pipped by Ford’s Focus and Audi TT. The LS was also Lincoln’s first attempt to fight off its reputation as a car for the nearly dead. That battle is reminiscent of Cadillac’s fight for a younger image, a fight Lincoln is still losing 15 years later. The LS shared its main elements with the Jaguar S-type and Ford Thunderbird and had a similarly contentious styling. Of the two saloons (while we’re comparing) the Jaguar managed a better job than the Lincoln. The 2000 Car Buyer’s Guide called the design “ho-hum”. I’d call it a derivative mash-up of VW Passat, Mitsubishi Diamante, Opel Astra, Ford Edge Design details and Lincoln motifs. Continue reading “Looking Back: 2000 Lincoln LS”

Ashtray of the Day: 1955 Ford Thunderbird

I would very much like to have been able to open this ashtray on what I think is a 1955 Ford Thunderbird.

1955 Ford Thunderbird ashtray
1955 Ford Thunderbird ashtray

The ashtray is a sliding tray and I invite readers to inform me if the ashtray is illuminated. I am betting it is not. Despite the chrome finish, it’s a bit small for the job, isn’t it? I think the ashtray needed to be double the width so that neither the driver nor passenger would have to reach too far.

Learn What Lincoln’s Line-Up Looks Like

Today I will turn my attention to Lincoln. How good does it look for Ford’s premium brand? What are they selling? Read on to find out what the main UK-based websites** aren’t telling you.  

Lincoln MKC. It´s a Kuga underneath.Image: Lincoln.
Lincoln MKC. It´s a Kuga underneath.Image: Lincoln.

Lincoln’s range of vehicles has changed dramatically in the last decade. For nearly the entirety of its history the brand sold luxury cars in varying flavours of large. Not all of these have been particularly well-regarded but Lincoln has also managed to avoid overt product disasters. It has no equivalent to the Cadillac Cimarron, for example.

Lincoln’s high points involve Continue reading “Learn What Lincoln’s Line-Up Looks Like”

Continental Drift

As Lincoln’s Simon Woodhouse gets a quilted leather handbag in the chops courtesy of his Bentley opposite number, are the designer gloves off for good?

2015 Lincoln Continental concept - image via netcarshow
2015 Lincoln Continental concept – image: netcarshow

This week’s pique-fest courtesy of Bentley’s Luc Donckerwolke is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it breaks a tacit understanding that rival stylists do not publicly criticise one another’s work. Secondly, it prompts the question, is it possible to Continue reading “Continental Drift”

Jaguar’s XF Is Not Alone

Or Ford’s 2015 Mondeo is not alone. They are both guilty of the same crime. That crime is to offer a new model that differs very little from the predecessor.

2015 Ford Mondeo
2015 Ford Mondeo

Here’s the new 2015 Mondeo (above). Granted, it’s black and the lighting is terrible. It does look incredibly like the last one though. Ford does not usually do this. Usually they make it really clear that a new model has superceded the old one, for better and for worse. This time they Continue reading “Jaguar’s XF Is Not Alone”

Theme: Benchmarks – The Biggest Boot On a Passenger Car

….is, according to my research, the one fitted to the 2008-2015 Skoda Superb. 

633 litres of luggage capacity. The 2015 Skoda Superb. Image: best-carz.com
633 litres of luggage capacity. The 2015 Skoda Superb. Image: best-carz.com

It holds 633 litres. The rear leg room is astonishing as well. You can fit loads of legs back there. This trumps the one I had imagined was the largest, the discontinued 1996 Continue reading “Theme: Benchmarks – The Biggest Boot On a Passenger Car”

Ride Engineered – 1980 Mercury Monarch

The Ford Granada/Mercury Monarch pair are not known to be among Ford’s finest cars. Recently I had a closer look at a 1980 Mercury Monarch to see what it was really like.

1980 Mercury Monarch

Given that reputation, it may come as a surprise to some (it surprised me) that Ford marketed it as a rival to Mercedes’ W-123 in its 280E guise. Ah, that car again. The car shown here is a 2-door Monarch with the “Windsor” 4.9 V8. Ford also made 3.3 and 4.1 straight sixes available along with a 5.8 V8. The Ford version was almost the same barring cosmetic details at the front and back.

Production ran from 1975 to 1980. The intention with the Granada/Monarch was to Continue reading “Ride Engineered – 1980 Mercury Monarch”

Ashtrays: the 1980 Mercury Monarch

DTW is in the middle of preparing a consideration of the 1980 Mercury Monarch which was all but identical to the 1980 Ford Granada (the US version).

1980 Mercury Monarch driver´s ashtray cover.
1980 Mercury Monarch driver´s ashtray cover.

It is a legendarily mediocre car, even with a 5.0 litre Windsor V-8. More on that soon. In the meantime, I thought I would fillet some of my findings and present this amuse-gueule or Häppchen: the driver’s ashtray.

I wondered what the very large panel next to the glove compartment was and it turned out to be the aperture for a substantial ashtray and a cigar-lighter. Alas I was not able to gauge the dimensions of the ash receptacle: 100 ml would be an estimate based on my many years of valuable research on this neglected topic. Continue reading “Ashtrays: the 1980 Mercury Monarch”

World Cars: Ford Eco-Sport

Automotive News reports that Ford’s Eco-Sport soft-roader/crossover has not been a success in the European market. Is it an example of world cars only selling in parts of the world?

Too chunky for us. 2014 Ford Eco-sport.
Too chunky for us. 2014 Ford Eco-sport.

The Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and the Opel Mokka all sold remarkably better than the Eco-Sport. How well? For every eco-sporty vehicle Ford sold, Renault sold 13 and a bit Capturs. Additionally, Peugeot sold 11 of their chrome-laden machines and even more additionally, Opel shifted 10 Mokkas for every Ford that drove off the dealer’s yard.

That means for each little Ford softroader sold, 34 of the competitors’ cars found happy customers. How this happened is put down to the Ecosport being designed for the Indian and Brazilian markets where more chunky-looking vehicles are preferred. The biggest sign of this chunkiness is the huge, externally mounted spare wheel.

That will be made a no-cost option in the near future. The interior will Fiesta-ised on the grounds that this is what customers like in this segment (and the Renault and Peugeot use their respective superminis’ interiors pretty much unchanged).

Good colour but not ladylike enough. 2014 Ford Ecosport in export guise.
Good colour but not ladylike enough. 2014 Ford Ecosport in export guise.

This little episode reminds me of the CDW27, or 1992 Mk1 Ford Mondeo which replaced several vehicles in the Ford empire. Most notably in the US it replaced the Mercury Topaz and Ford Tempo. The Mercury Mystique and Ford Contour were rejected by the market for their cramped rear accommodation. Honda’s Accord, until the recent past, was sold in EU, US and Japanese widths but eventually one width won out (the non-Euro version).

I presume I could use some of the finite remaining minutes of my life to determine if there is a correlation between the demise of the EU-only Accord and the introduction of the one-size-is-supposed-to-fit-all architecture of the current car (which I rather like). I guess there is.

1990 Mercury Topaz two-door.
1990 Mercury Topaz two-door.

Is the world car a zero sum game? Is it possible that in gaining sales in the BRIC countries Ford lost Europe and that in winning Europe Ford would lose the BRICs? Some cars seem to “go world” without a bother. The BMW 3 and VW Golf are ubiquitous. The Golf is the most popular car in the Antarctic.

Opel tweak their Astra quite a bit for local conditions and this strategy seems to work. So, for some firms, it pays to be very global and other firms localise their designs a good bit. The answer to the world car question is that there is no single answer. I’d guess the that more niche the product is the more likely it is to be market sensitive.

The Golf is, as we all know, the median car so it can sell in good numbers in most places without much adjustment. The Ecosport (the name is odd, no?) seems to be a vehicle from a segment where local tastes and fashions differ quite a bit. I think we can say that the world car might be a very special segment and it’s a mistake to think it’s the norm.

If you take a look at Wikipedia’s insight on the topic you find examples are not thick on the ground. Most cars that we call world cars are usually adjusted to suit local tastes (what about the 911?). The Corolla springs to mind. And the Toyota Camry has been geared to suit American’s preferences and has disappeared from this beautiful continent due to lack of interest. World car? Illusion.

J Mays’ Ford Legacy II

Sean’s article has inspired this short footnote.

2000 Ford Prodigy concept car
2000 Ford Prodigy concept car

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. Continue reading “J Mays’ Ford Legacy II”

J Mays’ Ford Legacy

How successful were J Mays’ Blue Chip Fords?

J Mays TBird

I start by admitting an unjustifiable antipathy towards J Mays, which I must put to rest, now. It is based purely on the fact that he once called a 1 Series BMW a ‘shitbox’. Although I have admired several Bangle era BMWs from first viewing, the 1 Series was never one of them, but there is something unseemly about one designer slagging off another designer’s work in public. Continue reading “J Mays’ Ford Legacy”

Press Photo For The Day: 2010 Lincoln MKT

…the T stands for touring.

2010 Lincoln MKT: not popular.
2010 Lincoln MKT: not popular.

It has a “choice” of a 3.5 or 3.7 litre V6 engine. The smaller one is tuned for economy. And the engines drive the front wheels. Odd looking thing, isn’t it? The customers have been few. In its first full year on sale 7,435 buyers wrote a cheque. And in 2013 just over 6000 customers were found. Ford fondly imagine it is a competitor for the V8 Audi Q7. That’s what Motor Trend reported.

 

Engineering Made It Happen: 1977 Lincoln Versailles 351 V-8

Milestones: DTW looks back at significant automotive achievements. Today, the 1977 Lincoln Versailles, the first car to offer clear-coat paint.

1977 Lincoln Versailles: "Now, a car with a 110-inch wheelbase, with a superb luxury car ride."
1977 Lincoln Versailles: “Now, a car with a 110-inch wheelbase, with a superb luxury car ride.”

According to Motor Trend, May 1977, the Lincoln Versailles represented Ford Motor Company’s attempt to compete with GM’s successful and smaller-than-was-usual Cadillac, the ’75 Seville. Lincoln also wanted the Versailles to Continue reading “Engineering Made It Happen: 1977 Lincoln Versailles 351 V-8”

Theme : Cute Car Hall of Fame – FAB 1

Simon reveals his softer side.

Fab 1 Crop

I’ve asked myself if I can think of a large car that is ‘cute’ and, at present, can only think of one, but perhaps that is because this particular vehicle will always have a dominant place in my memories. In the late Seventies, I filled in for the European Motoring Correspondent on Soldier Of Fortune magazine when he was unavoidably detained for several months by the German security services. Apart from it being the introduction to my beloved Alvis Stalwart, when I tested one for the ‘Used and Bruised’ feature, that time also has more tender memories for me.

Continue reading “Theme : Cute Car Hall of Fame – FAB 1”