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Designer strove for new Ford icon

Automotive News / January 06, 2003

Since his student days at Great Britain's Coventry University School of Art and Design in the mid-1990s, Joe Baker has been interested in the cultural influences that affect a vehicle's design.

Baker, who designed the Ford 427 concept car which was scheduled to be unveiled at the Detroit auto show Sunday, Jan. 5, wondered why some American cars are losing their identity by mimicking Japanese or European vehicles.

When he began drawing the initial sketches for the Ford 427 concept, he was determined that the car should look like it came from America.

"Ford is 100 years old. You don't throw away what we did before," said the soft-spoken Baker. "I am not a fan of completely reinventing yourself every model cycle."

Baker's intent with the 427 was to create a modern version of the big, powerful American family sedan. Ford's Galaxie 500, a huge sedan popular in the late 1960s, provided the inspiration, he said.

"I wanted to do something that was contemporary, but that had a popular appeal," Baker said.

"Why aren't American Fords looking like they are American Fords?" he asked. "How can we come up with a modern icon for Ford cars? And that was what I was really trying to do. At the end of the day, we were looking for something that was identifiably American, identifiably a Ford sedan to signal that this is an iconic Ford sedan."

Some of the American cultural influences Baker wanted to capture in the 427 include a powerful engine and a roomy interior. That pays homage to the way American cars evolved because of cheap gasoline and the nation's interstate highway system.

Baker, 30, from South London, is one of Ford's youngest designers. Although American muscle cars of the late 1960s and early 1970s were a rare sight in Great Britain when Baker was growing up, they are among his favorite cars for style and design.

After graduating with honors in transportation design, Baker worked for Isuzu Motors' European design studio, where he helped style several concept vehicles. He joined Ford in 1998 and contributed to the current Ford Fiesta. He has been assigned to Ford Brand Imaging Group in Irvine, Calif., since 1999.

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My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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