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U.S.A.: Ford GT kept simple for low volume, high quality, Theodore says

Automotive News / August 07, 2003

2003 Traverse City coverage

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.-- Chris Theodore, Fordís vice president of advanced production creation, is coming off the fastest-ever vehicle project in Fordís history, the GT sports car. The $125,000 LeMans influenced super car will come to market in just two years.

Theodore spoke to staff reporter Richard Truett on Thursday at the Management Briefing Seminars.

The GT is coming out after just two years of development. Because of Fordís past quality issues, will consumers be suspect of any Ford vehicle that comes out that quickly?

I can understand where that concern might come from. This is a low-volume, hand-crafted niche vehicle. Itís not like thereís one going down the line every 47 seconds. We kept that car very simple. There will be more customers than cars built. If you drove one of the prototypes, youíd see that it is better than production Ferraris.

Ford President Nick Scheele struggled a bit, I thought, when asked to define the Mercury and Lincoln brands. Would you take a crack at it?

Some people donít get this. But the difference between Ford and Mercury is the same as the Toyota Camry and Lexus ES 300 and the Volkswagen Passat and the Audi A4. When you start to take a look at those, youíll see a difference selection in materials, a little more emphasis on style.

How are you feeling?

When I had my regular physical in May, they found a spot on my lung. Iíve been a cigar smoker for 30 years. The operation was serious because the only way to really know is that they cut you open and cut out a piece of your lung. They biopsy it there, right on the spot. The good news is that they found nothing. The bad news is that itís a nasty operation. They crack your ribs, and I have a (long) incision.

How long were you out of commission?

I was back at work in 4 Ĺ weeks. Iím OK.

Did Ford get a good head of steam out of the centennial celebrations?

I think it really changed a lot of peoplesí attitudes. What was really good about it was not that we got a big hit in the press in Detroit, but that we got a big hit in the press around the nation. Those Model Ts going across the country ... there is a lot of pent-up good will.

Why has Ford spent a lot of money on interiors on future vehicles?

Itís not so much money. Itís just attention to detail. We are putting as much as we can into interiors. Thatís what the customers like.

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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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