It seems that small car icons always come from Europe-the Volkswagen Beetle, the Fiat 500, the MINI Cooper. But looking at the Ford Start, one begins to wonder whether an American car company also could make a truly enduring small car. We think this coupe-and it is a coupe, not a hatchback-is supercool, which is not surprising given that the design team had a 1956 Porsche Speedster and a 1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Zagato in the studio while they worked on the Start. The concept is built on a shortened Fiesta platform and features a direct-injected, 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder, Ford’s smallest powerplant yet to get the EcoBoost treatment. The tiny turbo is headed for production, but the Start isn’t. That’s too bad, because the Start definitely deserves a go.
Freeman Thomas | The head of Ford’s California design studio, Thomas was the design director for the Start project.
“We did a 3-D clay model first, then reverse engineered it from there.”
“It just has a small, little trunk compartment. But that allows this panoramic back glass and amazing visibility, and you don’t have the extra structure [of a hatch] that adds weight, so it simplifies the whole car.”
“We minimized the number of parts but made each part more endearing. For instance . . . the seats [are] one-piece buckets, but they don’t have any sewing in them. They’re actually molded in design.”
“It’s about the length and width of a Mini, but it’s very different from a Mini. It’s also very different from a Fiesta. We created something that we believe is sportier. Its influences and its inspirations come from sports cars, not hatchbacks.” – Freeman Thomas
J Mays | Ford’s chief creative officer
“The Zagato and Speedster are edited, gorgeous shapes and forms that inspired us to move into the future with simplicity and focus.”
“There are three things you see from space: the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, and the headlamps on a Chevy Spark. We turned down the noise. The headlamps and taillamps are the most minimal slit that you can do.”