Jack Telnack was the former global Vice President of Design of the Ford Motor Company from 1980 to 1997. After his training at the Art Center College of Design, Telnack began working as a designer for Ford in 1958, and became the head stylist of the Lincoln-Mercury Division in 1965. In 1966, he became the chief designer of Ford’s Australian branch and served as the Vice President of Design for Ford of Europe in 1974. Telnack retired from his post at the end of 1997, and was replaced by J Mays.
Impact on the Mustang
The third major transformation in the history of the Ford Mustang came in 1979, when Ford introduced a sleek, European-inspired pony car. The all-new vehicle shared its Fox platform with the Ford Fairmont and the Mercury Zephyr, and it was totally different from everything else on the road.
“We wanted to make a fresh statement for Mustang,” recalls Jack Telnack, chief designer of the 1979 Mustang. “We were very strongly influenced by European design, and we knew that we had an opportunity to make a contribution to the fuel economy of the car by more efficiently bending the sheet metal, giving the car a more aerodynamic wedge shape.”
Unlike its predecessors, the 1979 Mustang featured a slant-back front end. It was four inches longer in body length and wheelbase than the Mustang II. And though it was a bigger car with a more spacious interior, it was 200 pounds lighter than the previous Mustang, due to advanced body engineering and the increased use of lightweight materials.
“We actually wanted people to be uncomfortable with the car when they first saw it because if they weren’t uncomfortable with it, that would mean they had seen it before,” said Telnack. “It took people a little while to get used to the new look, but once they did, they understood the design, and they appreciated that it was a Mustang.”
It didn’t take long for people to fall in love with the new Mustang. Ford sold 370,000 cars in the vehicle’s first year.