Ford Fund Announces $1 Million William Clay Ford Automotive Design Scholarship


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Scholarship commemorates the design legacy of William Clay Ford, former chairman of Ford Motor Company’s design committee Ford Fund commits $50,000 per year during the next 20 years, giving five automotive design students each $10,000 per year Mr. Ford oversaw design of the iconic Lincoln Continental Mark II, considered by many one of the greatest cars ever built

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DEARBORN, MI--March 14, 2014: Ford Motor Company Fund will award $1 million in automotive design scholarships during the next 20 years to commemorate the late William Clay Ford’s contributions to the design legacy of Ford Motor Company.

“I wanted the spare tire in the back. That was the trademark of a Continental”

Throughout his 57 years as an employee and board member, Mr. Ford was instrumental in setting the company’s design direction, overseeing development of a number of classic vehicles, including the iconic Lincoln Continental Mark II. He served as chairman of the design committee at Ford for 32 years.

“Design was Mr. Ford’s passion, and his creative vision transformed vehicle design at Ford,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “We are honoring William Clay Ford’s legacy by encouraging and supporting the next generation of innovative automotive designers through this scholarship.”

The grant will be paid at the rate of $50,000 per year during the next 20 years, awarding five $10,000 scholarships annually to outstanding college sophomores or juniors pursuing a degree in automotive design. Details of the program will be announced in the coming months.

William Clay Ford’s role in design

On July 17, 1952, Mr. Ford was appointed manager of special product operations in charge of a group of engineers and designers engaged in advanced planning of the Lincoln Continental Mark II. The Continental Mark II was the successor to the classic Lincoln Continental developed under the direction of Mr. Ford’s father, Edsel Ford, and introduced in 1939. The Continental Mark II is considered to be among the greatest cars ever built.

Mr. Ford told the Henry Ford Museum he wanted to closely follow the designs of the original Lincoln Continental. That included matching the ratio of window glass to sheet metal, re-creating the intimate feel of the interior controls, as well as mounting the spare tire in an impression in the sheet metal of the trunk, recalling the original Continental’s outside-mounted spare.

“I wanted the spare tire in the back. That was the trademark of a Continental,” Mr. Ford said. “We took most of the basic proportions of that car and tried to keep those same proportions in the Mark II, and I think we did pretty well at it.”

When the design committee of the company’s policy and strategy committee was formed in 1957, Mr. Ford became its first chairman, a post he held until he retired from Ford Motor Company in 1989. Mr. Ford was appointed vice president, product design, in 1973.

In addition, he received an honorary doctor of science degree from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., in 1981.

More information on Mr. Ford and his legacy can be found here.

Ford Fund support of art and design

Ford Motor Company Fund is an established supporter of the arts, as well as design and arts education. Longtime partnerships include the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibits (Washington, D.C.), Detroit Institute of Arts, College for Creative Studies (Detroit) and Art Center College of Design (Pasadena). At the high school level, Ford Fund is a founding sponsor of Henry Ford Academy (Dearborn), Henry Ford Academy: Alameda School for Art and Design (San Antonio) and Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies (Detroit).

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