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Design Of The Ford Ka - Legends of the SMOL


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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.


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);




    ^^^ 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;

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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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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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?



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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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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.





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On 6/10/2018 at 12:13 PM, purplebargeken said:

Blue Peter archives somehow??


On 6/10/2018 at 12:20 PM, barefoot said:

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...


On 6/10/2018 at 12:33 PM, Slartibartfast said:

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!


On 6/10/2018 at 1:10 PM, BorniteIdentity said:

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!


On 6/10/2018 at 1:12 PM, Joloke said:

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!


On 6/10/2018 at 1:35 PM, Joloke said:

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)!


On 6/10/2018 at 2:10 PM, Faker said:

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!


On 6/10/2018 at 2:42 PM, Simon M said:

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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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?




Pst it is why!!!!


Allegedly of COURSE.

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