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Design Of The Ford Ka - Legends of the SMOL

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#1 OFFLINE   Datsuncog

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 10:33 AM

Right folks, bit of a strange one, but  this is an on-off conversation I've been having now for years, and I can find no evidence of its veracity - but Mrs DC is insistent that it's true.

 

It's doing all four of our collective tits in, so I thought that maybe someone here might be able to confirm or deny. Here we go.

 

In a nutshell, the original Ford Ka of 1996 was designed by a 15-year old boy.

 

ford-ka-mobile-de.jpg

 

Mrs DC is adamant that, at the time of the Ka's launch, she saw an item on Blue Peter where a 15-year-old (approx) student appeared in the studio with one of Ford's new city cars, clutching his own drawing of something similar, and there followed an interview with him. He had (possibly??) been the winner of a schools design competition run by Ford, who had been so impressed that they had worked the design up to production.

 

The interview had specifically mentioned that the car looked quite unlike anything else in the manufacturer's line-up (which was quite true) and had a very distinctive profile.

 

Not only this, but she recalls similar stories in the press, mentioning the unlikely situation of a schoolboy's design being picked up on by a major manufacturer.

 

This cropped up in conversation many years ago, and I was utterly disbelieving.

 

My limited understanding of the Ka's design process involves:

  • the young British designer Chris Svensson (who, as a design student, produced a similar looking small-car prototype as part of his 1992 graduation show display - and took it with him to his new job at Ford);

    ford_ka_1.jpg

    ford_ka_2.jpg

    ford_ka_3.jpg

    ^^^ These sketches turned up online - I'm guessing 'Chris 8/93' means these are early re-workings of the original concept produced specifically for Ford during the summer of 1993.
     
  • a Car Week exclusive from the end of February 1994 (edition #26, if anyone has it to hand - sadly my copy ended up in the recycling last year), showing something very Ka-like in appearance, although wearing what was at that time the 'corporate nose', without any hint of what was to become the New Edge design;

    CW 26, Feb 94.JPG
     
  • the 1996 Ghia Saetta concept car, which firmed up the front end design prior to the Ka's official launch in September 1996 and is broadly in line with the 1993 sketches;

    Ghia_Saetta.jpg

This is one of those things that keeps cropping up, and we've looked at it from all angles -

  • no, the Blue Peter interview wasn't with Chris Svensson; it was with a boy still at school (hence the youth interest angle) with questions asked about whether he wanted to be a car designer when he grew up, and how difficult a field it was to get into;
  • it wasn't a dream, as she discussed it with others at the time and afterwards (she was considering going down an art and design career path at that stage, hence the professional interest) and says she considered it 'common knowledge' - and was surprised I didn't know the story, in with the rest of my useless car trivia;
  • it was definitely a Ka and not anything else (she's had a lifelong interest in cars - apparently, at the age of three she could identify pretty much any car on the road by its wheeltrims) - and she considered having a Ka as her first car, in part because of the story of how it was conceived;
  • if anyone's given to misremembering stuff and inventing utter fiction, it's me, not her. Although it sounds implausible to me, (given the lead-in time of several years from initial sketch to production) if this turns out to be balderdash, I'll be even more surprised than she might.

So what's the consensus? Is this ringing any bells? Anyone with an indexed list of Blue Peter episodes from the mid-90s?

 

We'd both love some closure on this - so any thoughts appreciated!

 

Help me, Autoshite Massive - you're my only hope.


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#2 OFFLINE   purplebargeken

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 11:13 AM

Blue Peter archives somehow??


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#3 OFFLINE   barefoot

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 11:20 AM

Write to blue peter, they'll probably send you a badge too!
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#4 OFFLINE   Slartibartfast

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 11:33 AM

Who was presenting Blue Peter at around that time? They're probably on Twitter.
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#5 OFFLINE   Pillock

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 11:37 AM

I've got a book on Ka history at home that might shed some light.
I'm drinking in a field right now though.
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#6 OFFLINE   cobblers

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 11:40 AM

Who was presenting Blue Peter at around that time? They're probably on Twitter.

I think it was John Leslie, Anthea Turner and Diane-Louise Jordan in the early 90s


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#7 OFFLINE   Pillock

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 12:08 PM

Haha five virtual pounds to the first person to harass Anthea Turner over a 3 minute segment on BP 20 years ago. TELL ME WHAT YOU KNOW ANTHEA.
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#8 OFFLINE   BorniteIdentity

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 12:10 PM

There was a piece on the ITV lunchtime news at launch, but I’m fairly confident that it was defined by university students.
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#9 OFFLINE   Joloke

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 12:12 PM

I know Sam knows somethink about this I am sure she knows somebody who has a link to it? Ill ask her later ;)

Incidentally I remember it being on Blue Peter so your not imagining it ;)


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#10 OFFLINE   Joloke

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 12:35 PM

Sam is under the impression that it was a competition sent out to schools and that the winner was from the Oxfordshire Area and a relation to somebody who she hasnt seen for many years :(

So not much help there,Sowee :(


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#11 OFFLINE   The Reverend Bluejeans

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 01:06 PM

I read in an interview that the Ka's grille was inspired by the 105E Anglia. 

 

It's a remarkable design and the tiny number of survivors will be very sought after once rust has done for the rest.  In the early days when I had a press demo car from Ford, oncoming Ka drivers would give a wave. Within 18 months the roads were flooded with them.

 

A tragedy that the lack of rustproofing ruined them.

 

 

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#12 OFFLINE   Faker

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 01:10 PM

Mrs DC is most definitely a superior being!
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#13 OFFLINE   HillmanImp

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 01:31 PM

I know a girl whose dad designed the dashboard. His name is Keith Ashton and they named the car after him. Well that's what he told his kids, it's obviously just a coincidence. 


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#14 OFFLINE   Simon M

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 01:42 PM

You could try asking Richard Marson - he's a former editor of Blue Peter and has written several books about the show, and knows more about it than most.  I think he may well have been working on Blue Peter around that time too.

 

He's on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/richardmarson2


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#15 OFFLINE   andy18s

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 02:05 PM

I've got a book on Ka history at home that might shed some light.
I'm drinking in a field right now though.


And you don't have it to hand?
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#16 ONLINE   PhilA

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 02:13 PM

All I remember is the launch advert for it, with the phrase "Get into the Ka", with it pronounced "Kah", and lots of the things, rear view, flying around the screen like bees.

It was a strange advert. Possibly the concept for it came from Blue Peter, rather than that of the vehicle itself?

Phil
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#17 OFFLINE   PiperCub

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 03:17 PM

It's a remarkable design and the tiny number of survivors will be very sought after once rust has done for the rest.  In the early days when I had a press demo car from Ford, oncoming Ka drivers would give a wave. Within 18 months the roads were flooded with them.

 

A tragedy that the lack of rustproofing ruined them.

 

That's exactly my thoughts too (think I've posted as much in the past). In a few years time, they will end up being sought after by those for whom a Ka was their proverbial 'First car' in the same way people around my age look so fondly on Mini's (proper ones please) and will pay handsomely for the ability to own one again. 

 

If I find an early example in good condition (not much hope but you never know) for sensible money, I will probably be buying it. (Odd considering I hated them when they came out). 

 

As RBJ says, the lack of any kind of rustproofing is rather criminal. 


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#18 OFFLINE   PiperCub

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 03:20 PM

Haha five virtual pounds to the first person to harass Anthea Turner over a 3 minute segment on BP 20 years ago. TELL ME WHAT YOU KNOW ANTHEA.

 

TELL ME WHAT YOU KNOW ANTHEA

 

That'd be a brief conversation according to my colleagues who are ex-BBC TV. 


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#19 OFFLINE   Dick Longbridge

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 03:43 PM

I know nothing of the origins of these ugly little bastards.
However, a quick search of the pretend world threw up this weird looking thing. It’s of no help whatsoever, but I thought them worthy of this thread. It does, however, look like it was designed by a child.

2E029E1B-355A-44F3-8658-3017CC4CF2D5.jpeg

F96F76FD-75A1-4CB7-8F29-EE272801673C.jpeg
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#20 OFFLINE   Datsuncog

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 03:58 PM

Blue Peter archives somehow??

 

Write to blue peter, they'll probably send you a badge too!

 

Sounds perfectly reasonable, and embarrassingly I never even thought of that.

 

I always wanted a Blue Peter badge, too - tried several times but FAIL.

 

Worth trying! Around this time of year there's probably tons of students in doing work experience who could be mugged off to go and search the archive for such a thing...

 

Who was presenting Blue Peter at around that time? They're probably on Twitter.

 

Having had a bit of a head-scratch, it seems the presenter for that segment cannot be recalled. The mid-90s was a weird period for BP if I recall - a very high turnover of presenters, some only there for a matter of weeks, it seemed. But still, worth a hit!

 

There was a piece on the ITV lunchtime news at launch, but I’m fairly confident that it was defined by university students.

 

 Ah, cool - so there was some sort of student involvement, then - wonder if it might have referred to Chris Svensson (who seemingly landed a job with Ford on the basis of his Ka design from his graduation show). Excellent, thanks!

 

I know Sam knows somethink about this I am sure she knows somebody who has a link to it? Ill ask her later ;)

Incidentally I remember it being on Blue Peter so your not imagining it ;)

 

***WHOOP WHOOP!!*** Right, someone else who remembers this at all is the key here to Mrs DC retaining her sanity - thank you!!! It's been really annoying her for years that there seemed to be no record of this anywhere, so that's brilliant!

 

Sam is under the impression that it was a competition sent out to schools and that the winner was from the Oxfordshire Area and a relation to somebody who she hasnt seen for many years :(

So not much help there,Sowee :(

 

No, that's a great help - really! Thank you (and Sam too)!

 

Mrs DC is most definitely a superior being!

 

She doesn't respond well to flattery, but I think she is secretly pleased to have a small fan club!

 

You could try asking Richard Marson - he's a former editor of Blue Peter and has written several books about the show, and knows more about it than most.  I think he may well have been working on Blue Peter around that time too.

 

He's on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/richardmarson2

 

That's a cracking lead - thanks for this! True that an editor is probably more likely to recall content than a presenter might, twenty-odd years later...


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#21 OFFLINE   vulgalour

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 04:10 PM

Everybody knows the Ka was discovered when a malicious designer pulled the wings off a Beetle.


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#22 OFFLINE   Timewaster

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 04:53 PM

Everybody knows the Ka was discovered when a malicious designer pulled the wings off a Beetle.


Wings? Must have been Paul then.
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#23 OFFLINE   vulgalour

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 05:02 PM

I'm only liking that because I got it and am ashamed of myself for having a tiny involuntary laugh.


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#24 OFFLINE   AlabamaShrimp

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 05:13 PM

I've heard the stir about it being a competition too and might have even seen the thing on Blue Peter.

Don't know own how that would relate to the person named as the designer though or the whole New Edge thing.

#25 OFFLINE   Dick Longbridge

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 05:17 PM

Don't know own how that would relate to the person named as the designer though or the whole New Edge thing.


I doubt The Edge would have been anything to do with it. Can’t see Bono would have given him the time off.
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#26 OFFLINE   vaughant

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 06:31 PM

Ford have always ruin an undergraduate training scheme.
The idea of the scheme is to give the students a practical understanding of the theory they are studying.

They generally only pick the best of the best from "engineering" universities, in fact to become any form of engineer in ford, you need a minimum of 2:1 honours.

My guess is Svennson would have been on such a scheme as part of their final assessment is that they produce some form of project and this was something he had got involved in.

Never heard of the schoolchild story and also three years from concept to build is a short time for ford, especially back then, but not impossible as mechanically is only a fiesta.

Did used to laugh at the students who came in, we were scummy apprentices and they got paid a salary and ate in a different canteen (as per all ford "staff") yet used to hit in screws with hammers and blow up transformers etc with their superior knowledge*.

Still, most of them are either still with ford or got a really good job afterwards as they all pretty much came good by the end.

One bad Apple though was an afro-Caribbean girl who came to work* there. She did nothing, contributed to nothing yet got an exceptionally good job at the end of it, could this be why?

https://www.google.e...320079.html?amp

Pst it is why!!!!

Allegedly of COURSE.

#27 OFFLINE   sierraman

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 06:34 PM

I read somewhere that, concerned with the number of unemployed welders in the UK and the falling profits at Hadrian Panels, Ford took out the arch liners and omitted the underseal in a philanthropic effort to improve employability at MOT centres for skilled welders. Fact.
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#28 OFFLINE   vaughant

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 06:40 PM

Plus I love the Ka and think they're a total design classic plus a really good car to boot. The rust is a pity, getting a nice one and locking it away somewhere dry and warm could make a good investment. Certainly a sport Ka model.

#29 OFFLINE   sierraman

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 06:47 PM

It would still rust. Immerse it in a 8ft deep tank of linseed oil. Then light it.
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#30 OFFLINE   Mr Laurence

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 07:01 PM

I remember hearing a similar story a while back, so you're definitely not imagining it - I briefly looked into it, but I don't think I could find anything. I'll have another look around though, see if I can find anything interesting
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