Rising star's work on 427 concept becomes part of Ford's new design language
Ford Motor Co. designer Joe Baker with the Ford 427, which debuted at the 2003 Detroit auto show. (Photo by Joe Wilssens)
Joe Baker is one of the rising stars in Ford Motor Co.'s North American design department. Two years ago his Ford 427 concept car won wide acclaim on the auto show circuit, and its three-bar grille and square headlight treatment have been adopted as the new styling direction for several Ford vehicles. Last year, Baker's Bronco concept had SUV enthusiasts pleading with Ford to build the vehicle. Baker worked on the SynUS concept vehicle for this year's Detroit auto show. He spoke with Automotive News Staff Reporter Richard Truett during the show.
Did you ever think that the look you came up with for the 427 concept car would become a big part of the future design language for the Ford brand?
No. That was never the intention when I worked on the 427. I think that's the best way to do it. Because if you sat down and said, "OK, I am going to invent a signature look for a brand," I'm not sure you'd do the greatest work. It would almost be too much pressure.
The Fusion sedan uses many design cues from the 427 in a smaller package. Do you think your styling ideas made the transition well from the 427 to the Fusion?
Yeah. The Fusion isn't the production version of the 427; it's a front-wheel-drive car whereas the 427 was a rear-wheel-drive car. But I think they've done a really good job of translating it to a front-wheel-drive car.
Is there a danger that if the three-bar grille is used on too many Ford vehicles it will become generic looking?
No. I think it will always remain more distinctive than the current kind of aperture that Ford has. The aim is to migrate that look onto future vehicles. It will be the face of Ford for Ford cars. I wanted to create something that could kind of be pushed and pulled in either direction and still remain essentially the same thing. It is a sculptural motif. It's not like a graphic that's applied. You can make it thin and tall. You can make it wide and narrow. I think it works whichever way you pull it around.