Designed to Be Different

Ford's J Mays heads a list of auto stylists who can now make what they want--or maybe what we want

Once upon a time we really cared about our cars, and why not? Draped in chrome, sleek Lincolns and Cadillacs boasted bulbous front bumpers and mammoth tail fins that just screamed power. Smooth street rockets like the Chrysler 300 were breathtakers, although they could seem insignificant next to the glamorous elegance of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche designs. Sex was styled into every curve in those days. Under the hoods growled throaty tigers that guzzled gas, although everyone knew cars really ran on testosterone.

Then came a couple of oil crises and an army of wickedly shrewd engineers from a country called Japan,...

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