The tech world is collectively freaking out about Apple hiring superstar designer Marc Newson as its senior veep of design. He's done some truly phenomenal stuff, but my favorite is the Ford 021C from the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show.
At the time, the 021C didn't go over well. Ford's creative head J Mays was criticized for tapping an outsider – a guy known for furniture, appliances, and cameras – to create a concept that was the complete antithesis of the Biggie-sized SUVs and crossovers of the time. But that was the point. It was a way to show Ford's diversity with a small, compact, fuel-efficient runabout targeted at 20-somethings. Sure, it was toy-like, but it also thoroughly modern, and it aged with grace over the last 15 years.
The 021C packed a 1.6-liter four-pot, with a push-button four-speed transmission (on the wheel!), a MacPherson front suspension and a double-wishbone rear, the latter of which had horizontally mounted springs and struts.
The interior was unmistakably Newson (he basically copied his iconic chairs and threw them inside), with a single-spoke steering wheel and instruments inspired by his own Ikepod watches. And then there was the pull-out trunk that basically made a drawer out of the boot.
It was a classic three-box design, with shades of Datsun 510 and Trabant thrown in and smoothed out into a shape that made it both clean and approachable, without erring too far on the side of cute.
Since its debut, the 012C swapped its orange paint for neon green, and has made the rounds at a few different art exhibits, including stints at the London Design Museum and New York's Gagosian Gallery. And it wouldn't look out of place in the lobby at 1 Infinite Loop.