By on September 6, 2009

Last week, our man Thor translated a Q & A with Peter Horbury in Ford’s former global design director was recently demoted to his roots: head of Volvo design. Sadly, Automotorsport failed to discuss Horbury’s career reversal. Equally unfortunate: I had to inform Mr. Johnsen that we can’t lift entire articles. ( denied our request to republish the piece.) We can, of course, publish excerpts. And Horbury is, like all car designers, a veritable fount of designer-speak. Or not. You’ll see what I mean. Meanwhile, here’s the warm-up for the money shot: “Horbury always missed the sea and the forests surrounding Gothenburg.I like the Bohuslän nature with its clean lines, exactly as I believe car design should be.’ He pauses, thinking. But soon enough he makes a metaphor between U.S. and European design, and how Yanks often exaggerates certain design elements while the European design tradition is more stylish, simpler. . .”

Like a Volvo: you don’t have to bring design elements on each free surface of the bodywork, you should even enjoy the clean, open spaces. As in the coastal landscape here in Bohuslän. Look at Japanese cars, they rarely have any clean surface. As soon as there are, they design a decal, a line or a fold on it. Scandinavian design is cleaner without ornamentation everywhere.

On Lincoln: “The war with GM’s Cadillac is on again. And as before, Cadillac stands for the cheeky, challenging and more spectacular. Lincoln is more prudent in its lines, thrifty with the ornamentation. Discreet luxury.”

Discreet? How discreet can you get?

And now our quote of the day: “Range Rover is nice, Jaguar has through new forms found its soul again, Alfa Romeo looks like Alfa again and Kia Soul looks dashing. In fact, I even like the Renault Megane, that rear is nice.”


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14 Comments on “Quote of the Day: Peter Horbury Edition...”

  • avatar

    Lincoln is more prudent in its lines, thrifty with the ornamentation. Discreet luxury.”

    Yeah…so discreet it’s not even there.

  • avatar

    Ford needs to get rid of J. Mays as well. Some of the ugliest designs in recent history have been released and flopped under his tenure. The five hundred would be but one shining example and the new Lincoln sedan another.

    Hard to understand why he heads their design dept. with the trash he’s released and its flops in the marketplace.

  • avatar

    Lincoln is more prudent in its lines, thrifty with the ornamentation. Discreet luxury.”

    OK…I guess I understand…but what were you thinking when you allowed an orthodontist to design the grill of your car?

  • avatar



    LOOKOUT! LOOKOUT! LOOKout… Lookout….


  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I must have blinked and missed something. Why was Horbury dumped?

  • avatar

    Hey Horbury got an extra pair of rose colored glasses? I’m having a hard time seeing.

  • avatar

    I met Peter Horbury at a dealer function in Gothenburg, shortly after he became head of design at Volvo (the first time). At that time he was working on his first full design for Volvo–the C70 coupe and convertible. Later the same day we spent an enjoyable evening roaming around the Liseburg amusement park, discussing car design and the future direction of Volvo. It was funny to read that he “missed” Gothenburg, because for a long time he worked there from Monday to Friday, but commuted home to London on the weekends. Seems he found Sweden’s number two city a bit of a letdown in the nightlife department.

  • avatar

    A demotion doesn’t sound too bad when two others involved in the shake-up left “to pursue other opportunities.” Chicks dig steady paychecks.

  • avatar

    That thing behind him is his idea of discreet right?

  • avatar

    “Lincoln is more prudent in its lines, thrifty with the ornamentation. Discreet luxury.”

    I know Horbury gets paid to say this, but did he do it with a straight face? The designerese certainly makes sense if he made the 2002 Continental Concept and pushed it into production.

  • avatar

    Ford finally figured out that ‘Kinetic Design’ wiped the floor with ‘Red White and Bold’.

  • avatar

    @Lorenzo: Chicks dig steady paychecks.

    What?! You mean I’ve been wasting all this time building a giant robot for nothing?

  • avatar


    Depends what that giant robot does…

  • avatar

    I agree with the comments about J Mays. The Thunderbird? The 500 (or ’95 Passat clone)? The Freestyle (a bloated Allroad)? He’s had lots of opportunity to shine but it’s been a long, long time now.

    For Lincoln to be taken seriously they need their own rear drive or 4×4 platforms.

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