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Ford Motor Co. vehicle interiors (North America, c. 1979–2000s)

Contributed by Jay Handley on Dec 22nd, 2021. Artwork published in
circa 1992
.
    A typical electronic control panel used on several vehicles, including the popular Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, c. 1997–2003. A similar panel, with slightly different button labels, was used on vehicles such as the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Town Car. [Click to zoom]
    License: All Rights Reserved.

    A typical electronic control panel used on several vehicles, including the popular Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, c. 1997–2003. A similar panel, with slightly different button labels, was used on vehicles such as the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Town Car. [Click to zoom]

    A stunningly comprehensive use of Franz Heigemeir’s Modula (VGC) was as the main typeface for the interiors of millions of Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln vehicles in North America from the late 1970s to about 2004.

    This period coincided with the Jack Telnack led era of Ford design. As vice-president of design for Ford from 1980 to 1997, Telnack moved Ford design from the angular, crisp looks of the 1970s through the aerodynamic period of the 1980s and 1990s, particularly on the revolutionary Ford Taurus (1985). Millions of vehicles were designed by his team, including perennials including the F-series pickup and Mustang.

    Interior instrumentation, controls and buttons during the period would typically use Modula – notable especially for the unusual shape of its distinctive R and K – exclusively, or occasionally with a display type (for example, large speedometer or clock numerals).

    As the various vehicles designed during this era were replaced by new models designed by Telnack’s successor, J Mays, Ford gradually shifted away from the use of this type –- particularly toward Helvetica, which had long been used by Ford of Europe.

    Typical Ford heater & air conditioning control panel, used on the best-selling Ford F-series pickup truck, as well as similar Ford Expedition models, from 1997–2004. Notice the ampersand.
    License: All Rights Reserved.

    Typical Ford heater & air conditioning control panel, used on the best-selling Ford F-series pickup truck, as well as similar Ford Expedition models, from 1997–2004. Notice the ampersand.

    This control panel provided audio and headphone controls for second-row passengers in a Ford Aerostar van, 1989–1995. Note the distinctive K shape. The Ford part number E99Z-19A164-A dates this part to 1989.
    License: All Rights Reserved.

    This control panel provided audio and headphone controls for second-row passengers in a Ford Aerostar van, 1989–1995. Note the distinctive K shape. The Ford part number E99Z-19A164-A dates this part to 1989.

    Parking brake release handle on a 1997–2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck. The lettering is applied using “pad printing” to the plastic substrate. The distinctive, groovy K is unmistakable.
    Photo: Jay Handley. License: Public Domain.

    Parking brake release handle on a 1997–2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck. The lettering is applied using “pad printing” to the plastic substrate. The distinctive, groovy K is unmistakable.

    Passenger airbag deactivation switch, and indicator lamp, Ford F-150 pickup truck, 1997–2004. Pad printing over textured ABS plastic. The same part was used on the similar Ford Expedition, 1997–2003.
    Photo: Jay Handley. License: Public Domain.

    Passenger airbag deactivation switch, and indicator lamp, Ford F-150 pickup truck, 1997–2004. Pad printing over textured ABS plastic. The same part was used on the similar Ford Expedition, 1997–2003.

    Even the shifter knob of the Ford pickup (1997–2004) gets in on the use of the groovy, 1970s Modula font. 2003 model shown.
    Photo: Jay Handley. License: Public Domain.

    Even the shifter knob of the Ford pickup (1997–2004) gets in on the use of the groovy, 1970s Modula font. 2003 model shown.

    Although designed in the 1990s, the Ford pickup’s relatively smooth shapes work well with the unique Modula lettering. Note the use of the groovy and distinctive letter K. The ‘surround’ shape of the radio’s main panel uses '“pad printing” for the lettering. The buttons are molded in white with black paint; the lettering is etched or laser-cut out of the paint.
    Photo: Jay Handley. License: Public Domain.

    Although designed in the 1990s, the Ford pickup’s relatively smooth shapes work well with the unique Modula lettering. Note the use of the groovy and distinctive letter K. The ‘surround’ shape of the radio’s main panel uses '“pad printing” for the lettering. The buttons are molded in white with black paint; the lettering is etched or laser-cut out of the paint.

    Modula imprinted on simulated woodgrain trim, 1987 Lincoln Town Car.
    Hemmings. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Modula imprinted on simulated woodgrain trim, 1987 Lincoln Town Car.

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