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1999 Ford 021C

The Ford 021C urban concept vehicle was created by one of the world's most acclaimed product designers to appeal to a group of consumers who are mostly too young to own a car currently. Aged 21 years and under, these consumers are highly brand literate, extremely technologically aware, and want quality products that express their individuality.

"The Ford 021C is an honest, simple, engaging car, and these are values which resonate with this important group of emerging automotive consumers," said Ford's Vice-President of Design, J Mays.

Mays said the project has helped change the way Ford designs new vehicles. "As car designers, we tend to approach everything from an automotive perspective," Mays said. "The Ford 021C treats the car as a cultural icon. We have created a distinct point of view with this car, and if you don't get it, don't worry - you're probably not meant to."

Mays said the philosophy behind the 021C lays the foundation for a new generation of Ford vehicles which will appeal to a new generation of consumers into the 21st century. "This is all about making that vital connection with customers, no matter how different their world view and life experiences might be from our own."

The carbon fiber exterior features simple shapes and clean surfaces with no superfluous decoration. The door handles, for example, are simple aluminum buttons surrounded by a translucent plastic ring which is illuminated as the remote central locking is activated.

The glasshouse is light and airy, with thin pillars all round and clamshell door frames to ensure the widest possible apertures. The front and rear views of the Ford 021C are dominated by single light lenses and a wrap-around bumper.

Every element of the Ford 021C has been designed by Marc Newson, apart from the mechanical and electrical systems. Newson designed the instrument panel graphics, switches, wheels, and tread on the specially produced Pirelli tires. "It's easily the most comprehensive design job I've ever done," he said. "It was like designing 500 products at once."

Newson, who owns a classic Aston Martin DB4 and has designed everything from glassware to furniture to restaurant interiors, said he wanted to design a car that wasn't intimidating. "I wanted to create a car that was light, likable, and fun," he said.

"Ask children to draw a car, and they'll draw something like this, so in many ways, the 021C is a familiar and comfortable object," Newson said. "But it doesn't use many typical automotive design cues, and while it does incorporate some interesting technology, it's not the technology used simply for the sake of it."


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