2005 Ford GT designed by Camilo Pardo with J Mays

Retiring Ford designer J Mays: designs and quotes

Last week, Ford Chief designer J Mays announced his retirement after 33 years in the industry with positions at Audi, BMW, Volkswagen and the last 16 years at Ford. I’ve made a compilation of some of his quotes from the must-read book Ever Since I Was A Young Boy I’ve Been Drawing Cars – Masters of Modern Car Design by Bart Lenaerts and Lies de Mol and combined it with some of the most notable the cars he designed, worked on or which were designed under his supervision. Most have been successful, but some have been unsuccessful, either commercially or esthetically (or both). Let me know in the comment box below if you think the quote and the car match, or not at all.


1989 BMW 8-series designed by Klaus Kapitza with J Mays



“Something premium doesn’t have to scream. And by not doing so, it generates more confidence and longevity.”


1991 Audi Avus Quattro designed by J Mays & Martin Smith



“Nothing wrong with German automobiles: they’re still among the best in the world. But they’re so sober. A German vehicle that’s tongue-in-cheek? It just doesn’t happen.”


1994 Volkswagen Concept 1 designed by Freeman Thomas with J Mays



“History is littered with ultra hip automobiles that are out of style before they even reach the showroom.”


1998 Audi TT designed by J Mays & Freeman Thomas



“To be honest, I’m not interested in novelty, I’m interested in getting it right. Each car buyer will always recognize that.”


1999 Ford 021C concept designed by Marc Newton with J Mays


“A beautifully designed automobile is in many ways similar to a carefully tailored suit – like those sold on Saville Row in London.”


2002 Ford Thunderbird designed by J Mays



“Over the years, we’ve occasionally tried to push the boundaries quite radically and failed miserably”


2002 Lincoln Blackwood designed by Patrick Schiavone with J Mays



“On Monday, we would design a big pickup truck, on Tuesday we would be working on an Aston Martin or a Jaguar, on Wednesday on a Volvo, and the next day it would be a Land Rover or even a Mazda.”

2004 Ford Shelby Cobra Concept designed by Manfred Rumpel with J Mays



“I’m not suggesting that Americans don’t like beautifully designed products. But some may just not understand every subtlety involved.”


2005 Ford Shelby GR-1 concept designed by Henrik Fisker with J Mays




“It’s not that we want to be conservative”


2005 Ford GT designed by Camilo Pardo with J Mays





“We all want our work to still be attractive in 20 year’s time. I’ve succeeded in that once in a while, such as with the first Audi TT, the Ford GT and the Mustangs.”


2005 Ford Mustang designed by Sid Ramnarace with J Mays



“The Mustang is to Ford what the 911 is to Porsche.”


2005 Ford Five Hundred designed by J Mays



“If you’re going to spend the next seven years or more with a car – making it part of your life – you want to fall in love with it. You don’t want to rationalize your purchase. I’m convinced that each automobile is bought for emotional reasons.”

2005 Ford Freestyle (also named StyleFree) designed by J Mays



“When I retire, I don’t want to look back and think, ‘My God, what were we doing?’ “



2006 Ford S-Max designed by David Hilton with J Mays



“We’re not artists doing whatever we please; we’re here to fulfill the desires of our buyers.”


2007 Ford Interceptor Concept designed by Peter Horbury with J Mays



“People are not willing to take just anything in automobile design. You can surprise them, yet you shouldn’t scare them.”


2008 & 2013 Jaguar XF designed by Ian-Callum with J Mays





“Each vehicle should be surprising enough to keep the clients excited, and, at the same time, leave enough room to create the sequel.”


2009 Ford Flex designed by J Mays




“Customers are fascinating. They know exactly what they want, even if they can’t always verbalize it. They surely appreciate the difference between good and great design. The market proves this over and over.”


2010 Lincoln MKT designed by J Mays



“We don’t want to provoke customers, we want to seduce them.”


2011 Ford Evos Concept designed by Stefan Lamm with J Mays



“I tell stories by bending sheet metal. It’s not easy; you don’t want to end up with a design full of explosions and special effects.”


2013 Ford Fusion/Mondeo designed by Chris Hamilton with J Mays



“By the end of my career, I’d like to think Ford will be the most coveted car manufacturer in the mass market. We still have work to do.”