J Mays Retires as Ford Chief Designer, to Be Succeeded by Moray Callum

In a surprise move, Ford chief designer J Mays is retiring. After a career at Audi, BMW, and Volkswagen, the Art Center College of Design graduate joined Ford in 1997. Mays has been credited with the design of iconic vehicles such as the Audi TT and the Volkswagen New Beetle, and he also designed the Audi Avus Quattro concept.

Mays replaced Jack Telnack at Ford, and wasted no time in shaking up the existing networks in the design department. With the help of new hires, several of who were part of his team at Volkswagen and Audi, he created a new design strategy. Gerry McGovern, one of his protégés, now is the chief designer at Land Rover.

Mays’s legacy is mixed. While he oversaw the design of smash hits like the fifth-generation Mustang or Camilo Pardo’s Ford GT, he was also responsible for the Freestyle, a crossover considered by pundits to be “free of style,” or the dull second-generation U.S.-market Focus. Many of his models are seen as derivative in the design community. The current family of Fords is a prime example, borrowing grilles from Aston Martin, while the Five Hundred and the fourth-gen Explorer both have been accused of using design cues established at Volkswagen.

Long-Term Road Test Intro: 2013 Ford Mustang GT
First Drive: 2013 Ford Fusion 1.6 and 2.0 EcoBoost
Short Take Road Test: 2011 Ford F-150 6.2 V-8

Mays will be succeeded by Moray Callum, whose career led him from Chrylser and PSA to Ghia, Ford, and Mazda before Mays asked him to come back to Ford in 2006. Callum, 54, has played a significant role in designing Ford’s current lineup, and is the brother of Jaguar chief designer Ian Callum.

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