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Autoblog talks design with Ford Design Director Peter Horbury.

Ford has seen its ups and downs when it comes to vehicle styling, but with immense competition around the world and in North America specifically, design disasters will hurt an automaker now more than ever before. Ford design director Peter Horbury leads Ford's North American design, so responsibility for both beauties and beasts will rest firmly on his English shoulders. We had the opportunity to spend some time with Horbury and learn more about his plans for both Ford and Lincoln, and as usual the eloquent designer didn't disappoint. Hit play on the video above to hear what Horbury had to say about future European Fords in the U.S., global design, and the future of Ford interiors.

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  • 19 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ford has gone too far with the 3 bar. The Fusion, Edge, & Taurus X are the only vehicles it looks good on. Nevertheless, it is selling cars.. somehow..

      But, Ford is doing the right thing.. creating a universal design language is pertinent in today's market. This all begins with the new 2010 Ford Taurus, which resembles a Mondeo in multiple fashions.. it's a stunning vehicle.

      Ford trucks will always be on top, so no worries there.

      Lincoln is soon to be the best it has ever been. The MKS has 9000 preorders already, which is substantial in the luxury sedan segment. The MKZ is one hell of a car.. although it doesn't have a properly handling sport-tuned suspension, it is still very nice. Rides, and feels like a luxury vehicle should. The MKX is a Ford Edge, but the Ford Edge was a milestone design for Ford, just as the Fusion was. The MKT should be interesting.. I don't see it doing well, but who knows. The Merc R-Class seems to sell enough, and that thing is just awful.

      Ford is doing well.. Peter Horbury is the best thing they have going for them.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think the main reason ford is selling is because of the chrome grills. You can get a 13K 2008 focus in black, and look flashy with the chrome grill and chrome side vents (although fake), they attract attention.
        • 6 Years Ago
        ...And everyone thought it was about good design.
        O PLZ-GMAB.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hmm, I was hoping he would comment on the fugtastic Focus and the soon-to-be bomb Flex. I like the direction Lincoln is taking but I would dare to say that Fords designs are way below the curve. Even Chrysler has their 300 - what can Ford claim is even remotely good design?

      I was also surprised to see that his claim to fame was design for Volvo. Boy, does that explain a lot.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @Christian
        "Last I looked the F-150 (a single name plate) was the top selling vehicle on the planet. Must have some appeal. "

        Not anymore. That honor goes to the Honda Civic.
        http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2008-06-03-auto-sales_N.htm
        • 6 Years Ago
        Christian: no longer. The top four selling vehicles in May were the Civic, Corolla, Camry, and Accord, in that order.

        The days of the suburban dad buying a truck just for style are over.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Last I looked the F-150 (a single name plate) was the top selling vehicle on the planet. Must have some appeal. You also might want to consider Mustang, Ford GT, not to mention the Jag XK and Aston Martin designs that were signed off by head office in Dearborn. Toyota and GM don't have ANY cars of that cache. Also the 300 was a ford design, might wanna read up on that.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Christian! I second that request! If that's true, I want to read all about it!

        I remember that Chrysler stole the design of the Viper back when it was first made, but I'm sure Ford would have pounced on C for stealing a 300 design!

        Viper Theft Story: A man in Peabody, MA made a car named the "Mongoose / Next Generation Mustang". He pitched it to Ford, got declined! Shopped it to Chrysler! They declined! Years later, they came out with Viper! When I say the cars are 99% visually identical, I'm not pumping it up! The pictures in the new paper showed them side by side and said "Peabody Man Sues Chrysler". I never heard what happened but I'm certain he would have to have been compensated greatly! I only remember the side views having some differences! Yeah, of course some aero work was probably different, but you had to see it!

        Looking on web now for info! (la la la) k, found nothing! I'll see if I have the newspaper still. I actually saved three copies of it in a plastic bag! Don't ask! LOL I saved stacks of MT, RT, CD and AW too! Just tossed those though! LOL

        • 6 Years Ago
        Chrisitan, you might want to look again, this thing about the planet, because the toyota corolla is the best selling nameplate, followed by the F-150 and VW Golf. Oh, and don't be too surprised if ford loses that title soon even in america, yesterday the numbers said Civic outsold F-150 by a little, and there is no indication of oil going sown soon.

        And by the way, where did you get the idea that any aston martin was designed (that is, not engineered) in Dearborn?
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think he was referring to the 427 concept which, aside from the boxy shape, looks nothing like the 300.
        http://www.roadcompanion.ca/edito/mag/articles/31645/det_ford427_2.jpg
        • 6 Years Ago
        Christian: Don't you mean the Ford Five Hundred is a Ford design? If the Chrysler 300 was originally a Ford design, please give us more information on it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      All you fanboys pointing out the May sales (yes I am aware of them): so the 2004-2008 sales of that F-150 gen must have meant nothing? Whoopsers! I guess that cancels out everything.

      Ford had the most popular vehicle nearly EVERY month for the last 5 model years. That's good design. You guys are getting too excited about May. Wait till Ford has a F-150 diesel (2009-10MY), and they'll be king of the hill again.

      As for the "300C" yes it was a ford concept in 2003 (427), which was the FIRST concept in the 2000s to address the new boxy genre.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The 300 was also a 2003 concept, just like the 427. Ralph Gilles (who has been with Chrysler since he graduated from CCS) designed the 300 and he says that the two years before he got the design brief, Chrysler had already been working on a five passenger V8 powered RWD luxury sedan, and that those features establish a lot of the primary design. That means Chrysler was working on what became the 300 years before Ford displayed the 427. BTW, hardly anything from the 427 has showed up in any of Ford's designs.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Everything coming out now wasn't done under Mullaly. I think it will be another 2 years or more until we see some really new product. Of course just using the Euro Ford styling will help a lot.

      It looks to me like Mercury is going to be shuttered. The interiors on the new Fords like the Flex are what Mercury is or better. Mercury has been basically what Ford should have been. It currently has no purpose.

      I do think they could re-envision what Mercury is but the need to become profitable so they are focusing on Ford and Lincoln. Mercury could easily be Ford's "Green" brand once they have stabilized.
      • 6 Years Ago
      No mention at all of Mercury, even though it just beat Honda and Acura in J.D. Power Initial Quality.

      Telling.
      • 6 Years Ago
      What happened to J Mays? I thought he was in charge of Ford design.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Mays got a VP title as overall head of design for Ford and runs Ford's studio in the UK. Being a Europhile, he prefers living in London to the Detroit area.
      • 6 Years Ago
      There were up in Ford vehicle styling? That is a newsworthy statement.
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