Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but when the Design Center at Ford Motor Co. went about the task of making the 2013 NASCAR Fusion look like its production counterpart, everyone looked at it the same way.
“The reviews on this car were a bit more accelerated. We had to go through this with a lot faster pace than a production car because typically it takes us over a year-and-a-half to two years to get through the design phase of a production car,” said Garen Nicoghosian, design manager for specialty vehicles who headed up the project.
“This one was quite a bit quicker than that because, obviously, you have to make it to Daytona in 2013. It was a more cut-and-dried project, but it went through the same people and approval process. We looked at it in the courtyard and we looked at it on the computer. Our design scrutiny was strong on this car and we did what we could within the realm of the project.”
While brand identity has been the main focal point of the new-generation stock car for NASCAR’s top series, when the topic of unveiling the car to the public came up, another issue arose-what was the paint scheme going to look like?
For a fresh perspective, designer Jennifer Seely was tabbed with the assignment to devise something that would accentuate the Fusion body style.
“When I think of NASCAR, I think of big, bold colors, and busy graphics almost to the point of visual overload. I wanted to design something fresh, something that would stand out amongst the visual noise, so I took the completely opposite approach and designed with minimalism in mind,” she said. “My graphic style is usually best described as ‘less is more.’ When Garen presented the Fusion project to me, my first instinct was to emphasize the body design and the actual fluid lines that he created. I think he did a spectacular job with the car, so it was easy to follow the fluid body of the vehicle. Every single graphic on the car has meaning, and the intent is to further enhance the lines and framework that he’s created, so we worked together to try to achieve that goal.”
While to some it may look like just a bunch of random lines and stripes, there was a great deal of time and research that went into the final version. Seely went through hundreds of photos and looked at all of the historic cars that make up Ford Racing’s 111-year history.
“I think a lot of the influences that I found came from research, watching older movies and looking at older generations of the Mustang and even Henry Ford’s first race car in 1901,” recalled Seely. “Also drawing from what luxury Formula One race cars are looking like today. So a blend of old and new influences, while letting the incredible design of the current body shine through. One of the unmistakable elements is the double offset stripes that run along the top of the car. This feature kind of gives the car a European twist.”
Seely was also responsible for creating the design for the race suits worn by Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at the reveal presentation in Charlotte.
“The suit design was heavily influenced first and foremost by the vehicle graphics. I personally was influenced by the 1960s film ‘Le Mans,’ which made a lasting impression with its ’60s minimalism and primary color palette resulting in an unmistakable graphic statement.”
The result has been a one-of-a-kind paint scheme that made an immediate impact within the Ford Racing community.
“When we saw what the car looked like after being painted and decaled, we couldn’t believe our eyes,” said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. “The styling and integration of past Ford vehicles is very evident, so we decided that whenever we unveil a new race car, regardless of series, it will have this design scheme because it’s something unique to Ford.”
Video of the Design Center process can be found here.