Ford’s Mini Max Proposal – Dean’s Storage

Ford’s Mini Max Proposal

By Jim and Cheryl Farrell

Within the mid-Fifties, George Walker, head of Ford‘s Styling Heart, was pissed off as a result of his designers had been unable to provide you with a theme mannequin for the automotive that grew to become the ‘60 Falcon—that’s, one which was acceptable to Bob McNamara, then head of Ford Division. Lastly, Walker assigned veteran designer Don DeLaRossa, who on the time was the brand new head of the Lincoln studio, and Gale Halderman, a promising younger designer supervisor at Ford, to the mission. They have been arrange them in a small studio downstairs and advised to design a small Ford that might move muster with McNamara. Halderman and the clay modelers did a lot of the design work, whereas DeLaRossa was often busy with different tasks. Halderman stated that when DeLaRossa reviewed what had been designed, he would make strategies for a small change to a line right here or there or suggest addition a characteristic someplace on the clay mannequin. Halderman says he was amazed as a result of these small modifications DeLaRossa instructed “simply made the design.” That clay mannequin went on to turn out to be the Ford Falcon.

Quick ahead about 15 years. Over the course of three–4 years within the mid-Nineteen Seventies, DeLaRossa championed a minivan designed on the Ghia design facility in Italy. The Ford minivan proposals, referred to as the Mini Max, have been designed utilizing differing platforms. They bought so far as not less than 4 operable prototypes. Henry Ford II—nonetheless gun-shy from the Edsel debacle—thought the Mini Max would reduce into Ford station wagon gross sales an excessive amount of, so he stated “no” to the manufacturing Ford minivan. After that, it was largely forgotten, however the prototypes have been locked up in a warehouse. DeLaRossa thought Ford made an enormous mistake in not advertising a Ford minivan. He forecast to mates that the choice would “come again to chunk” Ford—however he additionally saved images and the plans for it.

In 1978, DeLaRossa retired to Florida and have become half proprietor of a Cadillac company. By that point Halderman and DeLaRossa had each turn out to be govt administrators on the Ford Design Heart.

After Henry Ford II fired Lee Iacocca as Ford’s president in mid-1978, Iacocca was shortly employed by Chrysler as its president. Just a few weeks after he began at Chrysler, Iacocca referred to as Halderman at residence one night and provided him the job as head of Chrysler’s design division. Iaccoca defined all of the troubles he had at Chrysler, monetary and in any other case, advised Halderman he must take a reduce in wage, however that if he (Iacocca) was profitable in turning Chrysler round, Halderman can be properly compensated due to inventory choices. Halderman thought concerning the provide for just a few days after which referred to as Iacocca again. Halderman advised Iacocca he was glad at Ford, however extra importantly, he and his spouse had a younger son born with severe medical issues, and he didn’t assume it honest for him to tackle a brand new job that might imply working additional hours he thought must be dedicated to his household. Iacocca reluctantly stated he understood. Halderman then instructed that Iacocca rent DeLaRossa as his new chief designer. Halderman defined to Iacocca about his Falcon expertise and advised him DeLaRossa was precisely the proper individual he wanted at Chrysler as a result of DeLaRossa was a grasp at altering or reworking the design of a automotive with little or no value and minimal effort.

Iacocca employed DeLaRossa as Chrysler’s head of design, and one of many first new tasks DeLaRossa undertook was the design of the Chrysler minivan. DeLaRossa stated that if he may have gotten the Ford prototypes out of storage he would have, however he couldn’t. (Iacocca undoubtedly remembered the Mini Max proposals additionally.) With the plans and images DeLaRossa had, plus some glorious Chrysler designers, by late 1983, Chrysler was in a position to design and market its personal minivan, and everyone knows how properly that turned out for Chrysler!

Photographs: Ford Design 

Footnote: I keep in mind seeing within the hallways at GM Design Workers a rolling, full-size, fiberglas mannequin of a minivan proposal referred to as the MPV (A number of Function Automobile) based mostly on the FWD X-body platform. It was very very similar to Chrysler’s minivan that got here out a number of years later. Gary.

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