Ford Australia designers had to start by thinking small when it came to the design of the new Territory. The revolutionary new vehicle started life as a scale model in the design studio of the product development research centre.
The incredibly detailed model of the all-wheel drive vehicle proved a key element used by Ford Australia President Geoff Polites to secure program approval for the project from Ford Headquarters in Dearborn, in 2001.
"The model we took to Dearborn with us had to exactly represent the vehicle we wanted to produce," said Falcon Vehicle Line Director, Russell Christophers.
"The technology involved in creating the scale model was exactly that used to produce the full-size vehicle. All the latest design and engineering tools, including up-to-the-minute CAE programs and design programs such as Alias, were used to produce a mini-Territory.
"While it obviously doesn't have all the mechanical components of a completed vehicle, this small-scale version of Territory is production credible – it could meet exterior packaging and aerodynamic requirements as well as key manufacturing hard points," said Russell.
Work on the model began midway through 2001, led by modelling supervisor Karl Gibbons and his team.
Utilising the data created by the CAE and other engineering teams, work started on machining, using five-axis milling machines to produce an exact 40 per cent copy of the full size feasibility clay, which was being developed in tandem in the studio.
Once the model had been cut in clay with all the detail rebates for glass surfaces, headlamps, tail lamps, etc, a complex mould was cast, from which a glass fibre model shell was produced.
The scale model incorporates everyday objects used creatively to produce a model that astonished everyone who saw it.
"We used torches to create the head lamps, and built up exact replicas of windscreen wipers with dressmaker's pins and uniquely shaped rubber wipers," said Gibbons.
"The badges were all hand crafted, we cut tread patterns to make the tyres look real and even machined a key to sit in the ignition."
"Everyone took an enormous amount of interest in the model – it really became something of a child to those who worked on the model," said Gibbons.
Ford Australia Design Director Simon Butterworth said the scale model provided his design team with a stunningly accurate template to work from.
"It's vitally important to have good quality models to give you a first look at how the vehicle appears with windows, how the head lamps look and the overall stance and proportions.
Shipping the model to the US provided more headaches for the design team, who finally opted to have an aluminium carry case especially built to house the precious cargo.
After receiving final approval for the project, the model was then used in a series of customer focus group sessions to gauge public reaction to the new vehicle.
"Again, this presented a unique challenge for the guys here, to make the scale model look life size," said Butterworth.
The designers hand built backing curtains for the model, with the curtain pleating reduced to 40 per cent of the normal life size backdrop for continuity. They also made a scaled down turntable to mimic the full size version.
Studio photographer Nick Smales managed to create the illusion through special video footage of the model that had everyone assuming they were looking at a full size vehicle – with not one potential customer realizing they were looking at a scale model.
"The feedback was incredibly positive and reassured us we were absolutely heading down the right path with the styling of Territory," Butterworth said.
The new Ford Territory will go on sale in the second quarter of next year.