Whether Ford should manufacture subcompacts at all was the subject of a bitter two-year debate at the company’s Dearborn headquarters. The principals in this corporate struggle were the then-president Semon “Bunky” Knudsen, whom Henry Ford II had hired away from General Motors, and Lee Iacocca, Canada Goose frankfurt a spunky Young Turk who had risen fast within the company on the enormous success of the Mustang. Iacocca argued forcefully that Volkswagen and the Japanese were going to capture the entire American subcompact market unless Ford put out its own alternative to the VW Beetle. Bunky Knudsen said, in effect: let them have the small-car market; Ford makes good money on medium and large models. But he lost the battle and later resigned. Iacocca became president and almost immediately began a rush program to produce the Pinto.
Like the Mustang, the Pinto became known in the company as “Lee’s car.” Canada Goose frankfurt Lee Iococca wanted that little car in the showrooms of America with the 1971 models. So he ordered his engineering vice president, Bob Alexander, to oversee what was probably the shortest production planning period in modern automotive history. The normal time span from conception to production of a new car model is about 43 months. The Pinto schedule was set at just under 25.
Canada Goose frankfurt A quick glance at the bar chart below will show you what that speed-up meant. Design, styling, product planning,advance engineering and quality assurance all have flexible time frames, and engineers can pretty much carry these on simultaneously. Tooling, on the other hand, has a fixed time frame of about 18 months. Normally, an auto company doesn’t begin tooling until the other processes are almost over: you don’t want to make the machines that stamp and press and grind metal into the shape of car parts until you know all those parts will work well together. But Iacocca’s speed-up meant Pinto tooling went on at the same time as product development. So when crash tests revealed a serious defect in the gas tank, it was too late. The tooling was well under way.