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Retired Auto Designer Reflects on More than Half Century in the Studio

Colin Neale Talks about ‘Spark’ that Led to the Mustang.

by on Aug.25, 2011

Colin Neale stands next to the English Ford Consul Capri, a car he designed when he worked for Ford of England in the 1950s.

This is the first in a two-part series about auto designer Colin Neale. Click here to read part two, which looks at an interesting aerodynamic concept Neale would like to see an automaker or academic institution test in a wind tunnel.

Colin Neale tells a story about how he was working on a model for a two-seat electric concept car at Ford when a now-famous top executive walked into the studio for one of his regular visits.

Neale often worked on what he called “hand models,” which were about 15 inches long. His boss, Elwood Engel, had chosen one to develop as the small electric vehicle.

Designed to Impress!

Neale said Engel liked to meddle in the design process, particularly in the clay. So when Engel left for a European business trip, Neale and his colleagues saw the opportunity to get the clay model done while he was gone.

“We went like hell for 10 days because the boss couldn’t interfere,” Neale said.

Upon his return, Engel loved the completed project, which was called Firefly. What happened next would change history.

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