Weekly Recap: Ford GT inspires guitar, foosball table, sailboat

Plus: Notes On A Big Buick, Old Land Rovers And Toyota's Expansion

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Ford design vice president Moray Callum had just wrapped up a briefing on the interior of the Ford GT last month, but something seemed out of place. He grinned and pointed behind him, "You might be wondering why I have a boat behind me," he said mischievously.

It was there because Ford set its designers on a mission to stretch and showcase their talents: design non-automotive objects inspired by the interior of the GT supercar. Callum received quite a response, too. His team produced a guitar, a foosball table (yeah bro!), a racing sailboat, a Wi-Fi speaker and some furniture.

As the veteran design chief explained, "It's a really great exercise both to highlight our designers' talents, but also to really see how our design philosophy can work and how you can use it and get a common response back from a worldwide design team."

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The objects have been on display this week at the Salone del Mobile furniture and fashion design fair in Milan, Italy, where Ford has had a presence for three years. There's also a light exhibition that apparently was inspired by the GT, as well.

While this might seem a little far-fetched for the automaker, Ford said exhibitions like the Salone del Mobile give its designers another way to be creative and ultimately produce striking interior style. Ford wants this to be a differentiator, as research shows consumers are placing emphasis on the layout and features inside when they're making a decision about buying a new car. It's a little light hearted – but it's also potentially big business.

Other News & Notes

Buick AvenirCadillac CT6 platform could be used for Buick

General Motors product chief Mark Reuss said the Cadillac CT6 platform could be used for a large Buick, though "not yet," Automotive News reported. The underpinnings can accommodate rear-wheel or all-wheel drive and would give Buick the large flagship it lacks. The report jibes with comments Reuss made at a roundtable with Autoblog and other reporters at the New York Auto Show.

When asked if Buick had space for a large car on the CT6 chassis, he replied, "Yeah, I think it does. Yeah, I think we do." Buick has revamped its lineup in recent years with attractive crossovers and small and midsize sedans, but hasn't added the proverbial flagship that's yearned for by enthusiasts.

Buick surprised industry observers with the stylish Avenir concept at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year that raised the possibility of a halo sedan. When asked about the status of the Avenir, he told Autoblog: "We always do business cases on things that are very nice and attractive like that. So yeah, we're absolutely... you know looking at... you know, it was such a hit, what would it look like in production, what would it cost to do it. So that's where we're at."

1970 Range Rover ClassicLand Rover launches heritage business

Land Rover is launching a heritage division this month to support the brand's classic vehicles that are still on the road. It will have its formal debut at the Techno Classica car show in Germany. The division will sell parts for Land Rovers that have been out of production for at least a decade. Depending on the model, the parts will be refurbished from salvage yards or new pieces made using the original methods. The company also has some old parts in good condition in reserve. Additionally, Land Rover will supply parts for 15 years for the current Defender, which is ending production soon. The program will include drives of iconic vehicles from the company's collection at a testing facility in Warwickshire, England.

The move allows Land Rover to capitalize on the potentially lucrative parts business, as it estimates more than 70 percent of all its vehicles are still in use. The unit is part of Jaguar Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations and follows the path of the recently launched Jaguar Heritage division.

2015 Toyota CorollaToyota expands in Mexico and China

Toyota is spending $1 billion to build a new factory in Guanajuato, Mexico, to produce the Corolla as the automaker forecasts increased demand in North America for its small car. The plant will open in 2019 and employ 2,000 people. It will produce about 200,000 vehicles annually. Toyota will move production of the Corolla from Ontario, Canada, which will then focus on "higher value" midsize vehicles, the company said in a statement. The Corolla will continue to be assembled in Mississippi.

Meanwhile, the automaker announced expansion plans for its joint venture in China, Guangzhou Toyota Motor Co. The company will spend about $440 million to add another assembly line next to the two existing lines on its site in the Nansha District, of Guangzhou. A model will be announced later with annual production of 100,000 units.

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