Plans to freshen Ford designs with Volvo formula



The Lincoln MKR takes design details from classic Lincolns from the 1940s and ‘50s. It also includes European touches like rounded corners.



Peter Horbury with the Ford Interceptor: “We want to translate Ford’s truck brand equity to our cars.”

A familiar face is spearheading Ford’s attempts to spruce up its North American car brands. Peter Horbury, the British designer credited with turning round Volvo’s brand image a decade ago, is now in charge of designing all domestic Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models.

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last week, he presented new concept models for Ford and Lincoln that give strong clues to the look of future production cars. Most striking is the Ford Inter­ceptor, a large, four-door muscle sedan based on the ageless Ford Mustang coupe’s platform, which means it could be put into production relatively easily. It’s powered by a 400 hp, 5-litre V8 engine, but it can run on clean ethanol-based E85 fuel.

To create the car’s distinctive “face,” Horbury has simply borrowed the front-end styling of a concept pickup shown at last year’s show. He explained why: “The blue oval has considerable equity in the truck market, and we want to translate some of that to our cars.”

Indeed, Ford’s F-Series pickup is North America’s bestselling vehicle, and Ford makes a big deal of the robust, macho image of the vehicle in its “Built Ford Tough” advertising.

The Interceptor’s horizontal barred grille is to become a major Ford design feature, with the company’s blue oval badge positioned prominently in the middle.

The grille already features on home-market adaptations of the Focus, unveiled at the show in four-door sedan and two-door coupe versions, and it’s likely to spread elsewhere — even to Europe in the future, as Horbury wants to cross-fertilize styling ideas around the world. The Focus for our market has side panel details borrowed from the S-Max and Mondeo, for example.

With Lincoln, Horbury is looking to repeat his Volvo experience, “borrowing de­sign cues from the past and building a new design language for the brand.”

He revealed a Lincoln concept coupe, the MKR, which takes design details from classic Lincolns from the 1940s and ‘50s.

“We’ve added some European touches too, like we did with Volvo — such as rounded corners to make large cars look smaller.”

Horbury said “both Lincoln and Mercury have a future” in the Ford empire, and he hopes his plans for Lincoln will re-open the debate about exporting the brand outside North America in the future.