When Earl Lucas presented his team’s ideas for the 2010 Taurus SHO exterior, Ford executives threatened to kill the project “if that was the best he could do.” The comment motivated Lucas to come back with a muscular, bold look that’s turning heads at auto shows across the country.
“CCS gave me a thick skin,” said Lucas. “Rather than get down on myself, I take criticism as an opportunity to grow and get better…
“The Taurus was a tough vehicle to design because it’s a big sedan, and people have certain expectations of what a sedan should look like. They think of it in terms of function rather than style. We needed to dial up aspirational aspects and turn it into a ‘me’ sedan—a car that makes you look hot and fashionable when you drive it.
“Those same Ford executives went from not appreciating the initial concept to rushing the project after we revealed our next design. We had to finish the car in two and a half years; most take a year longer.”
Inspiration for the Taurus’ exterior was derived from furniture, modern architecture and human anatomy, particularly the musculature of the torso. Citizen Cope, KEM, Anthony Hamilton and Paul Oakenfold played in the background as the team revamped the 20 year-old sedan.
“The new shape is right on for what a car should look like in 2010,” Lucas remarked. “And it will age gracefully.”
Prior to working on the Taurus, Lucas worked on the design of the 2002 Navigator, 2003 F-150 and the interior of the Ford Flex crossover.
The Taurus was shown at the Dallas Auto Show in Lucas’ hometown. The designer graduated from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts where musicians Norah Jones, Erykah Badu and Roy Hargrove also attended. During one of the school’s career days, a representative from CCS visited campus.
“Originally, I came to CCS planning to major in jewelry,” explained Lucas. “But eventually I switched to transportation design. I did some car sketches and tinkered around with cars while I was in high school. I also collect Hot Wheels and car paraphernalia. So it seemed like a natural transition.”
While he was at CCS, Lucas designed a van to transport elderly riders, which led to an interior design job with auto supplier Lear Corp. Then he moved back to Texas to accept a position with a small firm designing aircraft interiors for planes owned by the Sultan of Brunei. In 1999, he was hired at Ford.
“Whether I’m designing cars for the average person or planes for the world’s richest man, it’s those lessons I learned at CCS that helped me become the designer I am today,” said Lucas. “I was used to working in an atmosphere where pressure and competition were the norm. Because I was not treated as a star student, I yearned for better design solutions and attention. This forced me to work harder.”
Lucas is currently working on another project for Ford. He can’t reveal too much but promises it will be as celebrated, if not more, as the Taurus release.
However, it’s not rave reviews that drive the designer’s passion.
“Seeing a car I designed on the road makes all of the hard work worth it,” said Lucas. “It sounds cliché. But for an artist, there’s really no feeling like it.”
- Graduation Year: 1997
- Major: Transportation Design
- Employer: Ford Motor Company
- Title: Design Mgr.
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