Today (August 8th) is International Cat Day in the United Kingdom and to mark the occasion, Ford Motor Company is reflecting on how felines have inspired their products over the years. From the Cougar, Kuga, and Puma to the Panther platform used for a range of Ford’s American sedans, it appears the blue oval has an affinity for kittys.
I wonder if they are watching cat videos on YouTube over in Dearborn today? We do over here in nearby Detroit. Great way to waste an hour (or several) of your day, in case you need to be less productive.
Ford’s feline design is inspired by the inherent athleticism and agility found in cats, particularly terrifying ones like a mountain lion or Bengal tiger. Truthfully, if you’re a big cat in the jungle, you can pretty much stroll around and do whatever you want. I once saw a video of a lion backing down a crocodile. A crocodile. The lion gives one roar and the croc is like “I’m outta here” and sinks into the water like a brick. The point is, Ford believes a feline-inspired design gives drivers, much like the lion, a sense of confidence.
In the front, Ford’s kitty cues are intended to make a face; to stare back at oncoming traffic and other drivers. The headlights play an important role in making this happen, mimicking the eyes of a big cat. Moving around a given Ford vehicle, drivers often find strong, powerful haunches over the rear wheels. This is to make it appear like the vehicle will leap and pounce, much like a cat would after a ball of yarn or defenseless rodent.
Cats are proportioned very well, especially wild ones, between their legs, body, teeth, and tails. Even housecats (well, maybe not Garfield) very much show the genes of their counterparts higher up the food chain. Ford designers have emulated these characteristics over the years.
“A car’s athletic yet stable exterior is largely due to the proportion of the wheels to the body, the body to the ground, and the body to the glass,” explained Jordan Demkiw, Exterior Design Manager, Ford of Europe. “This all needs to be perfectly balanced to create that look.”
And it’s not just cats that inspire Ford’s designers and engineers. The aerodynamics of sharks have proven effective for certain Ford vehicles, while the posture of thoroughbred horses have influenced others. Essentially, the more ferocious or majestic the animal, the more likely it is to make it into Ford’s product line. In the words of Herb Powell, Homer Simpson’s half-brother, “people don’t want cars named after hungry old Greek broads! They want names like ‘Mustang’ and ‘Cheetah’-vicious animal names.”
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.