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.
“Something premium doesn’t have to scream. And by not doing so, it generates more confidence and longevity.”
“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.”
“History is littered with ultra hip automobiles that are out of style before they even reach the showroom.”
“To be honest, I’m not interested in novelty, I’m interested in getting it right. Each car buyer will always recognize that.”
“A beautifully designed automobile is in many ways similar to a carefully tailored suit – like those sold on Saville Row in London.”
“Over the years, we’ve occasionally tried to push the boundaries quite radically and failed miserably”
“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.”
“I’m not suggesting that Americans don’t like beautifully designed products. But some may just not understand every subtlety involved.”
“It’s not that we want to be conservative”
“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.”
“The Mustang is to Ford what the 911 is to Porsche.”
“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.”
“When I retire, I don’t want to look back and think, ‘My God, what were we doing?’ “
“We’re not artists doing whatever we please; we’re here to fulfill the desires of our buyers.”
“People are not willing to take just anything in automobile design. You can surprise them, yet you shouldn’t scare them.”
“Each vehicle should be surprising enough to keep the clients excited, and, at the same time, leave enough room to create the sequel.”
“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.”
“We don’t want to provoke customers, we want to seduce them.”
“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.”
“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.”
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