McNamara’s Interchangeability Study

By Jim and Cheryl Farrell

These are some of the most interesting photos. They are from Arnott “Buzz” Grisinger.

When McNamara was placed in charge of all cars and trucks upon Crusoe’s retirement in 1957 (because of a heart attack), McNamara, who was head of Ford, was promoted to take Crusoe’s position. McNamara had clay models created to test parts interchangeability between car models (like GM).

The interesting part is that a former product planner wrote a book stating that he and other Lincoln-Mercury people found out about GM’s interchangeability program and created a presentation. Ford executives told them never to show that stuff again. Several years later MaNamara took up the cause.


Posted by permission.
Photos courtesy of Ford Archives.
Check out Jim and Cheryl Farrell’s book, Ford Design Department—Concepts & Showcars
ISBN 0-9672428-0-0
Book review to come.
For book ordering information, email:

  1. Michael Allen

    Looks like Virgil Exner stopped by and did that one front end design seen here in several photos.

  2. Zachary G

    McNamara took a page out of Virgil Exner’s design book. A lot of these cars remind me of Imperials.

  3. Norman Gaines Jr.

    Knowing McNamara’s mentality I am sure no one voiced the opinion on the “interchangeabilty” concept that it was a lousy, derivative idea.

  4. David McIntosh

    Fascinating – going from mixed up fantasies to real cars! You can see future products in these studies.Thank goodness the industry toned down a bit in 1961 with the Lincoln and T-bird designs. Sanity prevailed! Thanks for a fun view of the times.

  5. Jay S

    This was Ford Styling’s rocket phase, taking inspiration from sci-fi as well as scientific efforts to travel to other worlds. The most that came out of it on the production line was the 61-63 Thunderbird, both in profile and rear view.

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

clear formSubmit