Get in the driver's seat with J Mays, the superhot auto
designer at Ford, and learn how to get your team around the roadblocks.
It's media day at the 101st New York International Auto Show, and the floor of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center is crowded with out-of-work actresses gesturing over the latest vehicles and press members queuing up for free buffets.
In the midst of the confusion walks J Mays, vice president of design for the Ford Motor Company. He's easy to spot. Just look for the man with the pack of reporters and car enthusiasts trailing him like the Pied Piper of Dearborn.
Mays has been the most sought-after designer in the automotive world since 1994, when, as design director for Volks-wagen, he persuaded a reluctant board of directors to introduce a radical new Beetle. With that, he managed to get the ail- ing car company up and running again - and established himself as the face of retro-futuristic design. In 1997, Ford sought him out to reinvigorate its product lines. Four years later, Mays has done more than simply reinvigorate - he's resurrected and reinvented them.
Mays, 46, now oversees design for all Ford brands, including Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar, Volvo, and Land Rover, but here at the Auto Show, the real attention-grabbers are Fords - especially the elegant new Thunder- bird and hot-looking Forty-Nine, a sleek black hulk of a concept car that's equal parts James Dean and George Jetson. It's pretty clear, thanks to J Mays and his talented design teams, that it's hip to be driving Fords again. (Oh, and in case you're curious, Mays says the J "doesn't stand for anything.")