JIM SMITHBAUER: DESIGN MANAGER ALWAYS ON THE GO, JUST LIKE THE 2011 LINCOLN MKX LUXURY CROSSOVER
Jim Smithbauer, design manager, 2011 Lincoln MKX
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Jim Smithbauer’s role as design manager for the 2011 Lincoln MKX fits him well. Like the popular, midsize luxury crossover, the Detroit native is seemingly always on the go.
“My friends refer to me as the ‘cruise director’ because I’m always arranging get-togethers,” said Smithbauer, who also occasionally sings a mean rendition of The Clash’s iconic “Rock the Casbah” with a friend’s band.
In keeping with the on-the-move theme, Smithbauer’s favorite auto-related movie is “Bullitt,” primarily because of the legendary car-chase scene involving Steve McQueen’s Highland Green 1968 Mustang fastback. In those days before movies used digital images for special effects, actual, real cars (and real people) created the action. “Best car chase ever,” Smithbauer enthused.
Incidentally, Smithbauer’s son is named Chase; he hasn’t inherited his dad’s love of cars … yet.
Designing – or at least drawing – cars at an early age
For the elder Smithbauer, that indoctrination started early. “My first word was ‘car,’ ” Smithbauer said. “I was always drawing cars as a kid, so car design was just a natural progression.”
Smithbauer earned a bachelor’s degree in transportation design from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. He interned at Ford’s design center in the summer of 1991 and has essentially been with the company ever since. Smithbauer is responsible for the complete interior appearance of various car and crossover vehicle lines.
“My favorite part of the job is when I first get to drive a vehicle I’ve helped design and show it off to friends and family,” Smithbauer said. “It was particularly exciting this time with the MKX because the styling and the advanced technology like MyLincoln Touch™ is so well integrated.”
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
- Smithbauer has a soft spot for 1970s-era “land yachts” like the Lincoln Mark V Bill Blass Designer’s Series and Country Squire station wagons
- Smithbauer’s favorite car is a tie between the 1967 Mustang (“best embodies the spirit of Mustang in its appearance”) and the 1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible (“I love its combination of being a cleanly styled four-door convertible with suicide doors”)
- He has two Mustang convertibles – a ’73 model with a 351 Cleveland V8 and 43,000 original miles and a new 2011 GT
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 159,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.