Even before Henry Ford officially incorporated Ford Motor Company in 1903, he had a vision that automobiles could be accessible to everyone. His consumerist philosophy also applied to his business practices. Ford routinely lowered costs to make his vehicles more affordable, helping to usher in a variety of innovations along the way.
One of Ford’s most prominent innovations came in the design and features of his automobiles. Ford’s 1908 Model T had the first engine with a removable cylinder head, while the 1930 Model A was the first to feature safety glass in the windshield. Further innovation occurred in 1932, when Ford launched the world’s first cost-friendly vehicle with a V8 engine. The first half of the 20th century essentially saw Ford Motor Company redefine the automobile industry every five to ten years, with a new model or business practice being the first of its kind.
The Rise and Sustained Importance of J Mays, Ford’s “Golden Era” Architect
J Mays retired from his position at Ford on Jan. 1of this year, but his legacy at Ford – and the automobile industry in general – is highly apparent. During Mays’ time there, Ford has produced acclaimed models such as the XK and XF Jaguars, Mazda RX-8, Ford GT, Land Rover LR4, an the retro 2002 Thunderbird. Some of his exceptional design concepts included the Shelby GR1 couple, Jaguar Concept R, Ford Interceptor, Ford 49 sedans and the Mazda Kabura. Essentially, J Mays had something to do with most of the Ford cars that made you say “wow” throughout the past two decades.While Ford’s 20th century success is due to innovations like these, in addition to others such as the inclusion of rear seatbelts, a deep-dish steering wheel and optional front with the Lifeguard safety package in 1956, it is their design choices within the past several decades that have automobile history enthusiasts very interested. In fact, due to sustained innovation and presence, many have considered the tenure of J Mays, the Vice President of Global Design and Chief Creative Officer of Ford, to mark the company’s “Golden Era” of design. It’s no surprise that his work has been publicized extensively.
What Does the Future Hold for Ford and Their “Big Picture”?
The “big picture” of Henry Ford’s automobile giant has often been to cater to a variety of audiences, from well-off car enthusiasts desiring top-notch specs to recent college graduates seeking an affordable yet reliable vehicle. That trend looks to continue through the 21st century, likely on a broader international scale than ever before. Ford has large stakes in several international companies – such as Mazda in Japan, Changan Ford Mazda and Ford Lio Ho in China and Aston Martin in the United Kingdom – so their innovative tendencies will continue to be recognized globally.
On a design front, the future designs of Ford appear to gravitate to a sleeker, more efficient direction. Essentially, engines are becoming more multi-faceted in addition to stylistic innovations accommodating space for more technical versatility. Mays remarked that many future automobiles, such as the next generation Australian Ford Falcon, may feature front-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive has existed since the dawn of automobiles, but recently automobile manufacturers are gravitating toward it more, praising its safer tendencies in head-on collisions.
Design choices like these, in addition to technological integrations such as smart phone compatibility and voice control, are likely to become common fixtures in a variety of Ford models throughout the next several years. Although a visionary like J Mays is certainly a “loss” for Ford, there is no doubting that his ideas will continue to play a large role in Ford’s future successes.