Tag Archives: Behind the Blue Oval

#FordNAIAS: Behind the Blue Oval

The Canadian International Auto Show got me thinking about my trip to Detroit.  In my last post, I wrote about the North American International Auto Show, which filled the entire first day of my trip with Ford.  The second day was just as exciting as the first and it gave me the chance to go, “Behind the Blue Oval” and see what innovative ideas Ford was working on.  This day was packed with information and the first session I attended was focused entirely on the design process that they use, specifically with the Ford Mustang.

The Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang - Clay Model - Exterior

Ford Mustang – Clay Model – Exterior

This session gave us a chance to meet the design team that essentially built the 2015 Mustang from an idea to a car.  They walked us through the process of how a car starts as a series of sketches, both for the interior and exterior (these sketches can be seen in the background in the photos).  They then showed us how the sketches become changeable clay models.  These models give the look and feel of what the car will actually become and they can easily be changed.  If changes are made, the models can be scanned and the CAD drawings are updated.  I was amazed at how smooth and finished the clay felt, especially as you ran your hand over the exterior of the car.  We were even able to see how the clay models can be adjusted or changed, even just slightly, which I captured in this video:

Ford Mustang - Clay Model - Interior

Ford Mustang – Clay Model – Interior

Ford Mustang - Clay Model - Interior

Ford Mustang – Clay Model – Interior

Ford Mustang - Clay Model - Exterior

Ford Mustang – Clay Model – Exterior

Ford Mustang - Clay Model - Exterior

Ford Mustang – Clay Model – Exterior


Once the clay models are done, they are “finished” to resemble what the car will look like.  This means that leather interior and seats are added, so that you can get the look and feel of what the car will look like.  For the exterior, a fibreglass model of the car is built so that it can be examined under different light.  It also gives a chance to see the lines of the car and how they look in a finished product.  I was surprised by how much both the interior and exterior design teams talked about the emotions attached to the Ford Mustang brand.  How the look and feel of the car really needed to “tie in” to the driver.  I did like that the fibreglass model was “split” down the middle and it showed both the convertible and non-convertible option in one vehicle.

Ford Mustang - Fibreglass Model

Ford Mustang – Fibreglass Model

While all of this interior and exterior work is going on, there is a second design team working on colour and fabric/leather options.  This team looks at what colours they want to add to the line up and what colour materials will suit the driver of the car.  Again, this team talked about the emotional ties that these colours and materials would have and also how they tied to the history of the car and the brand.

Ford Mustang – Interior Finishes

Ford Mustang - Interior Finishes

Ford Mustang – Interior Finishes

Ford Mustang - Interior Finishes

Ford Mustang – Interior Finishes


If you are a Mustang owner, you can rest assured that these teams are working very hard to ensure that this car suits you, what you stand for and what you love.

The final stage is for all these pieces to come together and a prototype car to be built. Once this happens, all the hundreds of sketches that started the process have been narrowed down and refined to become the car that is sitting in front of everyone. To say that it takes A LOT of work, is an understatement. The team is currently working on the 2018 Mustang!

2105 Ford Mustang Prototype

2105 Ford Mustang Prototype

2015 Ford Mustang Prototype

2015 Ford Mustang Prototype

My thanks goes to the following members of the design team that were on-hand with us during our visit and answered all of our questions, no matter how crazy:

Kemal Curic – Exterior Design manager
Larry Pelowski – Master Modeler
Sewon Chun – Senior Interior Designer
Michael Thomson – Interior Designer
Russell Sims – Digital Sculptor
Carrie Bommarito – Color and Materials Designer

#FordNAIAS: The North American International Auto Show

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining Ford at the North American International Auto Show for a few days.  Having been to the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto and the Hamilton International Auto Show in my youth, I didn’t think it would be much different.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Detroit Auto Show is the Crown Jewel of them all.  There was a product launch and unveiling every few hours and the room was full of approximately 6,000 media from around the world.  You could feel the room buzzing as each new car was unveiled and people began to talk about it.  There was a Corvette hanging on a wall in the GM area.  There was a simulated assembly line in the Ford section.  There were hor d’oeuvres at the SMART Car booth and refreshments and coffee almost everywhere you looked.  This was a different experience all together.

The first stop of the day was at the Joe Louis Arena where Ford unveiled the new 2015 F-150 Truck.  This was one of the MOST impressive product launches I have witnessed.  If you didn’t get a chance to see it, check out this video which shows the entire Ford press conference culminating with the F-150 reveal:

The entire first day of our two-day visit was focused on the Auto Show.  Ford had an impressive media room set up to allow us to go, “Behind the Blue Oval” and learn more about Ford.  They ran sessions on different topics all day that covered everything from design processes to Q & A sessions with Ford executives.  It was especially refreshing to hear throughout the day how happy and excited the Ford executive team was to have not only traditional media there with them, but also new media members as well.  It was also a relaxing environment to recharge (both yourself & your gadget batteries) and a great opportunity to take a closer look at the vehicles Ford is working on and ask lots of questions.

A snack conveyor belt

A snack conveyor belt

I had the opportunity to see a new proximity security feature they have added to the Police Interceptor line of vehicles.  This feature will automatically close open windows and lock doors, when active, if someone approaches a police cruiser from behind.  This is a big step in helping keep law enforcement professionals safe.

The team at Ford had definitely thought of everything we might want during our time at the Auto Show.  This included meals, refreshments and even a conveyor belt of snacks which kept changing throughout the day.  It started with granola bars and nuts.  Then it changed to chocolate and it ended the day with candy.  What more could you ask for?

Alan Mulally, CEO, Brad Keselowski, Chris Vollick

Alan Mulally, CEO, Brad Keselowski, Chris Vollick

During the evening portion of the event, I had the chance to meet Brad Keselowski and Alan Mulally, the President & CEO of Ford.  They were there talking with the guests and answering questions in a very relaxed setting.  I also had a chance to chat with former NASCAR driver (and 2014 Hall of Fame inductee) Dale Jarrett and NASCAR Hall of Fame member, Ned Jarrett.  The evening also included a short screening of the upcoming movie, Need for Speed (sorry, no video allowed) and the chance to meet the director of the movie, Scott Waugh.  If it sounds like a whirlwind it was.  It was also a great end to a great day!

Chris Vollick, Dale Jarrett

Chris Vollick, Dale Jarrett

Chris Vollick, Ned Jarrett

Chris Vollick, Ned Jarrett

Scott Waugh, Chris Vollick

Scott Waugh, Chris Vollick


If you want a glimpse into what Alan Mulally is like in person, there are plenty of videos online.  I had recalled seeing him in the clip below on the Late Show with David Letterman and he was very much the same in person, in my opinion.  After diving deeper into how he tied the vision and focus on the Ford brand into the original pillars that Henry Ford built the company on, when he joined the company, I am even more impressed at what Mr. Mulally has accomplished in his career.

With the work that Mr. Mulally has done at Boeing and now Ford, he has definitely helped people get around the world either in a car or an airplane for almost half a century.  If that doesn’t make him someone who embodies Henry Ford’s vision of “Opening the Highways to all mankind” which appeared in a 1925 Ford advertisement, I can’t think of a better example.