• Jul 12, 2007
Freeman Thomas with the Airstream concept

During the concept car ride that Ford held at their Dearborn proving ground this week, some of Ford's top designers including Peter Horbury and Freeman Thomas were on hand to answer questions from the gathered journalists. Thomas currently leads Ford's Advanced Design Studio in Irvine, California, and made his name being involved in designs like the Audi TT and Volkswagen New Beetle. Now he is trying to help revive the design team at Ford and bring them them some new hits.

During a wide ranging discussion out on the track, he acknowledged that design had definitely not been a priority in the product decision making process at Ford. In the process of creating some cars that offended no one they also excited no one and that has to stop. Not every vehicle is going to appeal to everyone and they need to strive to create vehicles that really excite a significant number of buyers. He gave high praise to Alan Mullaly and Derrick Kuzak for the support they are providing to the design team.

Thomas told the Detroit News what he had been told at the Detroit Auto Show that the Interceptor concept was never intended to be developed into a production vehicle. When Alan Mullaly was told that after seeing the car and loving the bold design, he was dismayed. Based on the reactions to cars like the Interceptor and Lincoln MKR, Ford is now revisiting their designs and elements of cars like the Interceptor will appear in the future. We will also be seeing some of the "kinetic" design that debuted on the new Mondeo in the US market in the coming years.

You can listen to the discussion we had with Freeman Thomas at the Dearborn track here. Sorry about the wind noise in spots.

[Source: Detroit News]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 24 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Does anyone recognize that the Cocept studio's acronym is FADS!

      F. ord's
      A. dvanced
      D. esign
      S. tudio

      FADS: (according to Nic) Something that everyones else does that will not last long and that leaves relatibely no significant impact on Car Culture.

      This could be a reason for a decline in market share. Just something to think about.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Oh that car, really, it must be Friday the 13th
      • 7 Years Ago
      They have better stop revisiting and build the damn car. Why is it that GM has finally pulled their collective head out of their ass but Ford is shoving it in further.

      The Interceptor wasn't a breath of fresh air. It was a friggin' hurricane. Ford would have a bonefide hit, instead they've got the Flex. I guess they need that Flex to get their head squarely up the 3rd point of contract.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This article infuriated me. What a waste of time and money. Stop making the concept cars you've got no intention of putting into production! You don't need to bring "design study" material to AutoShows and you don't need to pimp them out reporters if you're NOT EVER GOING TO MAKE THEM.

      I've been a pretty staunch supporter of Ford around here, but this just pisses me off.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Fuck putting 'elements' into future cars, just build what everyone -really- wants, the concept cars. If there was never any intention or probability of getting production versions of them, why spend multiple millions of dollars developing them? Such an incredible waste. The Cobra Concept, the GR-1, the Interceptor, the 427, the MKR, the 49 Concept, the Bronco Concept, and on and on, where the hell are they?

      Christ, and if they do take a good concept to production, where does it go? Ford Europe of course! The Iosis concept resulted in the new European Mondeo, but of course North America doesn't get it, just like we don't get any of their good products. Where is our Focus ST? Where was our Escort Cosworth? Where is our Mondeo?

      /tired
      • 7 Years Ago
      Well Mr. Thomas, thank you for ruining my day.
      • 7 Years Ago

      I must be in the minority because I didn't like the Interceptor. To me it is a design that won't age well, much like the 300. Hot, flash in the pan design is good for a couple of years but then what?

      I think what hurt the T-Bird was pricing and the fact it was strictly a 2 seater. Had it been priced in the high 20's to low 30's, I think it would have done much better.

      The retro style of the Mustang hasn't hurt it's sales. IMO, that's mostly attributed to it's pricing (bang for the buck). Heck the '05 GT's are still selling at 80-90% of MSRP at auction!

        • 7 Years Ago
        Maybe I'm in the minority but the 300 was ugly from the start.

        Mustang is a chicks car. Always has been. Feminine lines. Next generation will be even more feminine.

        Interceptor is a man's car. My car.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think GM actually has an idea of what they need to do and is following through on a decent plan. Although they seriously need some good looking fun-to-drive lightweight (under 2500 pounds) sporty cars.

      In fairness most every auto company could improve on something though, some more than others. But how many years does the Ipod have to be popular before you add a simple aux. plug to the stereo? Yeah total integration is nice, but a simple plug would make it compatible quicker and with any mp3 player.

      I think Ford still really hasn't awoke to reality, they claim to be Bold and spend millions on marketing but they're still not listening to the public. Except for their trucks they're trying to sell the same old moldy bread and cheese. I hope they wake up soon before it's too late.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think GM actually has an idea of what they need to do and is following through on a decent plan. Although they seriously need some good looking fun-to-drive lightweight (under 2500 pounds) sporty cars.

      In fairness most every auto company could improve on something though, some more than others. But how many years does the Ipod have to be popular before you add a simple aux. plug to the stereo? Yeah total integration is nice, but a simple plug would make it compatible quicker and with any mp3 player.

      I think Ford still really hasn't awoke to reality, they claim to be Bold and spend millions on marketing but they're still not listening to the public. Except for their trucks they're trying to sell the same old moldy bread and cheese. I hope they wake up soon before it's too late.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ford needs excitement? Has anyone seen the Toyota lineup?
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Interceptor was never intended to be built?!?!? Are you friggin kidding me? Idiots...
        • 7 Years Ago
        I don't think any of you read the article.

        It says this, "Ford is now revisiting their designs and elements of cars like the Interceptor will appear in the future. We will also be seeing some of the "kinetic" design that debuted on the new Mondeo in the US market in the coming years."

        This is what we have all been asking for...the European Mondeo. Yet you still bash Ford...

        You should all read the entire article before you post.
        • 7 Years Ago
        > I don't think any of you read the article.

        What makes you think that?

        Or do you think it is OK that they are _NOW_ "reconsidering" the idea so that they can water it down & deliver in 3yrs...?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Reading that just confirmed that Ford deserves to be in the crap hole they are in now. Thankfully, Alan Mulally sees how stupid management's decisions have been, and is trying to reverse their backwards thinking.

      Ford's philosophy has been to find some specific niche, and throw all their eggs into that basket. Before it was SUV--now that CUV's have taken over, they're now hoping everyone will buy their ridiculously bloated lineup of crossovers (Edge, Flex, Freestyle, Taurus X). It's utterly short-sighted, and it leaves all other segments with mediocre offerings (where's our stinking Focus!? Mondeo? the real Taurus?).

      The Thunderbird was an example of just a mediocre, overpriced car, plain and simple. Nobody wants to spend $40k on that, esp. w/ its lackluster performance. It should've been more affordable--in the mid 20s--and with more spice.
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