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by Austin C. Craig  More from Author

Ford’s Jim Farley Knows What Blue Oval Fans Want

Photography Courtesy of Ford


Ever since Alan Mulally became President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ford Motor Company, good things started to happen in Dearborn. After rebuilding the Boeing Company from an also ran to an industry leader, Mulally knew he needed good people on the marketing and engineering side of the company to help Ford Motor Company regain market share and its rightful place as a leader in the automotive industry. One of the first people he went after was Jim Farley, a car guy and enthusiast who had a stellar career at Toyota in this country and abroad. As Group Vice President and General Manager of Lexus, Farley was responsible for all sales, marketing and customer satisfaction activities for Toyota’s luxury brand. Farley’s marketing talent was evident as he led the Lexus Brand to number one in luxury brand sales.

One of Jim Farley’s noted accomplishments is his responsibility for the successful launch of the Toyota Scion Brand. As corporate manager, Farley focused on product development, sales planning. He was later promoted to Vice President of Scion and was responsible for all Scion activities.

So what does Farley’s success have to do with being a true enthusiast and car guy? Everything! I had the opportunity to work on Ford business for 21 years during my career at J. Walter Thompson, Ford Division’s communication and advertising agency. During that time I met many Ford senior executives, many were talented administrators, none had the fire, passion and excitement and marketing knowledge for the industry that Jim Farley has. None were car guys like Jim!

Since he joined Ford Motor Company in November of 2007, Farley’s many talents have been evident. He recently was promoted to Group Vice President of Global Marketing and Canada, Mexico and South America Operations for Ford Motor Company. Farley is now Ford Motor Company’s most senior marketing leader, reporting directly to Alan Mulally. Since September 1, he also reports directly to Mark Fields, Ford’s President, The Americas for the Canada, Mexico and South America responsibilities. Farley earned these new responsibilities, he did not get them just because he owns a 1964 289 Cobra!

Last August during the Woodward Dream Cruise I had the opportunity to talk with Jim Farley about a variety of subjects. From the moment he drove up in his 2010 Grabber Blue Mustang GT, I knew he is the real deal. He is enthusiastic, extremely knowledgeable on all segments of the automotive market and loves to talk about performance cars and trucks. Jim Farley is an expert marketer and a car guy–an extremely rare combination in Detroit!

Living in South Florida we see every day the evidence of Farley’s talents as the roads are populated by large numbers of Lexus and Scion vehicles. With such a stellar career at Toyota, I asked Jim why he wanted to come to work for the Ford Motor Company. Jim replied, “My connection with Ford goes back to my first car, a 1966 Mustang. I bought the car when I was 15, restored it and then drove it from California to Michigan. When the Ford family reached out to me, I was interested and humbled, but wanted to make sure the company and the people were the type I could not only work with, but were wanting to grow the business as much as I did.”

After meeting Alan Mulally, Jim was excited about the future of Ford and its new direction. “I felt good about the company and felt I could be a contributor,” Farley told me. A key factor in Farley’s decision to move to Dearborn was the relationship he needed to have with the engineering and product development groups. His meeting with Derrick Kuzak, Group Vice President, Global Product Development went extremely well. “Derrick told me he needed a marketing partner, he could build the world’s best $80,000 car, but he needed a partner who was product knowledgeable and could market vehicles to be best in class and also priced for the each market. I really liked and related to Derrick” Farley stated.

Knowing that the “bean counters” can and have cut the heart out of vehicle programs, Jim Farley was excited to meet Lewis Booth, the company’s new Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Booth has world wide experience and is another talented person Alan Mulally brought to Dearborn to rebuild the Ford Motor Company. Lewis Booth, born in Liverpool, England, the son of a Ford, Austin and Morris dealer, has the car business in his blood and makes no apologies for his passion for cars and the auto business. Just the kind of person Ford needed in a most important position.

After learning the time and the environment within Ford Motor Company was right, Jim Farley joined the company in November of 2007. Enthusiasts all over the country can be very glad he did.

When he hired in, Jim Farley need a new car. Some people offered Volvos and Jaguars, cars that people in his position prior to Farley’s arrival drove. Jim stated he wanted a Mustang GT! Someone said it was November in Michigan and nobody wanted a Mustang for the Michigan winter. Farley stated he wasn’t “nobody” and told them to find him a Mustang GT. One was obtained from the press fleet and Jim was set to go. For 20 years, ever since he owned his first new Mustang, a 1985 Mustang GT, Farley had always wanted to do a burnout heading out of the Ford Executive Garage! He did not waste any time as the first time he left the garage he popped the clutch and created a huge burnout with smoke permeating the garage and surrounding area. Upon his return some security person told him that burnouts were not common practice in the executive garage. Farley replied, “How about that!” I was not there, but I bet Jim had a big smile on his face!

There is no question that Jim Farley is an enthusiast. One look at his 2010 Mustang tells you all you want to know. Here is a listing of some of the modifications he has made.

  • GT500 cold air and performance calibration
  • GT500 KR exhaust
  • Shelby GT500 wheels, 19x9.5 with P255/45R18 Z-rated fronts and P285/35R19 Z-rated rears
  • Brembo 14-inch vented front rotors and 4-piston calipers, 11.8-inch vented rear rotors with 2-piston calipers.
  • GT500 front and rear sway bars
  • Ford Racing Strut tower brace
  • Ford Racing springs, struts and shocks
  • Ford Racing short shifter

Jim told me he wanted to build a Mustang GT similar to one any enthusiast could build for themselves. The Mustang GT is Farley’s daily driver.

During his time in California Jim Farley became good friends with Carroll Shelby. Always a Shelby enthusiast, Farley owns a 1964 289 Cobra automatic. “The 289 Cobra with a C4 automatic was one of Carroll’s favorite Cobras, they built around 25 of them during the last run of 289 Cobra production and Shelby told me he thought the C4 was ideally suited for the 289 Hi-Po engine, it is a great cruiser that responds well when you put the hammer down.” Jim related. “The Cobra is a clean driver with wire wheels. It had the pin drive Halibrands when I bought the car, but I like the painted wire wheels so I converted the Cobra. It is a special car that I love to drive and I stay in contact with the gentleman I bought the Cobra from, we have become good friends.” Farley concluded.

In addition to his 289 Cobra, Farley owns a 1966 GT350 and 1934 Ford five-window coupe, similar to John Milner’s Ford in the George Lucas’ classic movie, American Graffiti. Milner had the “fastest car in the valley” and I would not doubt Farley’s ’34 is also a runner. I have seen a lot of auto executives buy classic cars, never drive them and have them towed around to shows. Jim Farley is not your typical auto executive; he drives his cars and really enjoys the car hobby.

Not only does he enjoy the hobby, Farley enjoys the car business and is making a huge difference in the Ford Motor Company vehicle lineup. In less than two years on the job, Farley has in the words of Alan Mulally, “Jim has made great progress connecting with our customers, focusing on building the Ford Brand around the world. He is working closely with our product development organization on strategy and planning.” This high praise translates to the marketplace as Ford introduces new and exciting vehicles customers are proud to drive.

While an avid performance enthusiast, Jim Farley knows that vehicle performance is not limited to fast 0-60 times and slalom numbers, it also includes fuel efficiency. Jim told me his goal is to have Ford products be the fuel economy leader in every segment in which the company competes. Proof of this is the new F-150 had increased power and segment leading fuel economy of 21 mpg. An amazing accomplishment for a 4,500 pound, full size, pickup truck.

In recent road test articles in the enthusiast publications, the 2010 Mustang GT outperformed both Camaro and Challenger by over 3 miles per gallon. During the test driving the Mustang achieved 23.4 mpg versus 20.8 for the competition. This is very impressive since you know the editors always have the hammer down.

Speaking of the 2010 Mustang, last year the car was revealed during a special event at the Barker Hanger at the Santa Monica airport. It was simulcast at the same time to Mustang Club of America and other Mustangs enthusiasts in key markets across the country, then broadcast on a delay basis on SPEED Channel. The 2010 Mustang Reveal was a huge undertaking, I was involved in a number of the Mustang launches and while effective they did not match the scope, magnitude and coverage of the 2010 Reveal. I also know an undertaking of this magnitude could not and would not have taken place if Jim Farley was still at Scion. Instead of believing Mustang enthusiasts should be left out in the cold because “they will buy the car anyway” Farley knows that this owner body is important to Mustang and the entire Ford product lineup. He embraces the enthusiasts and lets talented people like Robert Parker, Director of Product Communications, Steve Ling, Ford Car Marketing Manager, Allison Revier, Mustang Marketing Manager and Fritz Wilke, Enthusiast Marketing Manager, do an outstanding job with both the Mustang and events like the 2010 Mustang Reveal. All these people work closely with the Mustang Club of America and appreciate their input on a variety of subjects and ideas.

During our conversation, Jim Farley emphasized that he wants all Ford products to have balanced performance that is important to customers in each market segment. Once again Farley is practicing what he preaches as evidenced by the new 2010 Fusion Sport, 2010 Mustang, Taurus/Taurus SHO. From what I have learned the new Fiesta recently introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show is more proof positive.


The 2010 Mustang GT equipped with the Track Pack is the ultimate option. Developed by enthusiasts for enthusiasts the Track Pack includes; a 3.73 rear gear, upgraded bars struts and shocks as well 19-inch wheels and summer performance tires. All this enables the Mustang to be ideal for open track and the every day commute.


The Mustang’s new glass roof option features high-performance safety glass that helps keep the cabin cool and deflects ultraviolet radiation. This feature includes a manual retractable built-in shade. A transparent acoustic layer helps reduce noise, vibration and harshness.


New Mustang Track Pack

This year marked the first year since 2002 that the Mustang had any real competition in the marketplace as both Camaro and Challenger returned. Both Camaro and Challenger performance models would have more horsepower than Mustang GT and the Jim Farley and the Mustang Team knew the media would make light of this. So with that in mind they went to work, making the lighter Mustang a better handling car that would be easier to drive on a daily basis. With Farley’s encouragement Team Mustang engineers came up with the sensational Mustang Track Pack.

Led by Vehicle Dynamics Engineering Supervisor Brent Clark, his team engineered a suspension system that makes a good handling Mustang GT a great handling car that is fun to drive every day.

The road tests proved that the team had a winner as the Mustang GT equipped with the Track Pack out-handled and out-braked both competitors by a wide margin. I have driven the Mustang equipped with a Track Pack, it is the perfect Mustang for daily use or open track and autocross events.



The new 2010 Taurus, pictured here outside the Chicago assembly plant where it is built, is one example of the great new products coming to market since Jim Farley became Ford Motor Company’s marketing chief.


2010 Taurus

Back in 1985 Ford introduced the Taurus and immediately dethroned General Motors has the midsized segment leader for the first time. The 1985 Taurus and subsequent models were winners in the marketplace. Today Ford has introduced a new Taurus that is every much a winner as the 1985 car.

In developing the Taurus, Chief Nameplate Engineer Pete Reyes and the Taurus team knew they had to overcome a lackluster image of the previous Ford segment entry. Their mandate from senior management was twofold; reinvigorate the Taurus to reclaim its place as America’s preeminent full-sized sedan and cut a full year from its development time! They did both! The new Taurus is a stylish and all new sedan. In developing the Taurus interior they all knew it had to be segment leading and when a problem arose with the center stack, they put more money in the stack and as Lon Zaback told Automotive News, all agreed to spend the extra money to make it not only right but to improve the center stack and make it more people friendly. Again without Jim Farley’s buy in this would not have happened. I recently was a passenger in a new Taurus SEL and I can tell you the whole interior of the Taurus is outstanding as is the rest of the car. Farley told me he is dedicated to getting the product right, the first time. His words ring true with the new Taurus.

When the Taurus SHO was introduced in the late ’80s it became an instant hit with enthusiasts. Today the SHO Club is one of the most energetic Ford marque clubs in existence. Good news–the new Taurus SHO is another winner. I was able to drive the All-Wheel Drive, equipped with 365 horsepower 3.5L EcoBoost twin-turbo Taurus SHO on the Dearborn test track. The SHO is very fast, but is equipped with brakes and suspension to match the power of the EcoBoost engine.

The electric power steering provides instant turn in without the dead center feel of yesterday. The SHO is an enthusiast car from bumper to bumper.



The all new 2010 Taurus SHO performance sedan returns as the flagship of the Taurus line. Powered by the new 3.5L EcoBoast V6 365 horsepower, the All-Wheel drive has suspension and brakes to match its impressive power.


The interior of the new Taurus is outstanding, the center stack shown here, features state-of-the-art technology.


SHO Performance Package

For those of us who want even more performance for open track events or just carving corners, the new SHO Performance Package is the way to go.

Jim Farley related to me the story of how the Performance Package came about. He and Derrick Kusak were discussing the SHO and came up with the idea for the Performance Package. Being car guys they knew that a number of enthusiasts would want a performance package. Without wasting any time Kuzak’s engineers developed the new SHO Performance Package in only three months, a very short development time period, especially with an all-new product. The package includes performance brake pads, sport tuned performance steering, AdvanceTrac Sport Mode, 3.16:1 final drive ratio, 20-inch Premium Painted Luster Nickel Aluminum wheels with summer performance tires and a tire mobility kit. As good as the standard AWD SHO rides and handles, the SHO Performance Package will make the SHO into a very special performance car.



The 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor is another example of a performance vehicle brought to market with Jim Farley at the marketing helm. The Raptor is versatile enough to take on the Baja as well as the everyday commute.


2010 SVT Raptor

On the truck side of the business the new 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor received a warm welcome from the automotive press and enthusiasts. It is the first and only truck on the market equipped with FOX Racing Shox system. The Raptor is a purpose built, high performance 4WD off-road truck versatile enough to take on the most challenging desert trips as well as your everyday commute. Once again the interior matches the truck image and execution.



FORD’S NEW 2011 Mustang 3.7L V6

The latest in Mustang balanced performance was unveiled at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show when Ford introduced the all new 2011 3.7L V6 Mustang. The new engine is the latest exciting news for Mustang enthusiasts and intenders. Jim Farley surprised and delighted the engineers with his frequent visits to the dyno room during the engine’s development. They had never seen a marketing person in a dyno room!

The all new 3.7L V6 offers increased performance and improved fuel economy with a number of new features:

  • 300 hp – up from 210 in 2010
  • 276 lb-ft torque – up from 240 in 2010
  • Cold air induction
  • Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions
  • Dual exhaust
  • Tachometer increase from 7,000 to 8,000 rpm
  • Die cast aluminum deep sump oil pan for 10,000 mile oil changes
  • Optional 3.31 axle-2.73 standard


V6 Improved fuel economy

  • The first Mustang to get 30 hwy mpg
  • Automatic gets 19 city/30 hwy, up from 16/24 in 2010
  • Manual gets 18city/29 hwy, up from 18/26 in 2010


How did Ford accomplish all this?

  • Twin independent variable cam timing–optimizes combustion with improved power and low speed torque, also provides optimized cold start operation with improved exhaust emissions
  • Electronic power assist steering
  • 6-speed transmissions
  • Aero actions that include:

Tire spats on rear wheels

Modified under body shields

Taller air dam

Added rear deck lid seal


Driving dynamics of the new 2011 Mustang V6 include electronic power assist steering with driver choices of comfort, normal and sport. For 2011 limited slip differential is standard, the V6 Mustang comes with the 2010 GT brakes as well as new spring rates, new sway bar diameters and new strut and shock tuning.

The 2011 Mustang V6 can be ordered after January 1 with Mustangs arriving in dealer showrooms in early April.

The new Mustang V6 is just one of the innovative Ford products coming to market in 2011. Thanks to Jim Farley, a true car guy and enthusiast, new and very desirable products will continued to be introduced by the Ford Motor Company. Stay tuned, it will be an exciting year ahead.


Jim Farley, Vice President of Global Marketing and a true car guy and enthusiast stands by his 2010 Mustang GT in Mustang Alley during this year’s Woodward Dream Cruise.


Jim Farley, second from left, takes time out with Mustang Club of America Board of Directors, left to right, Austin Craig, Rick Umberger, Ed Hockaday and MCA President, Steven McCarley. Jim enjoys working with the Mustang Club of America.


Ford recently introduced the all new Ford Fiesta at the Los Angeles Auto Show. A sales success in Europe, the Fiesta will be available this spring, another winning addition to the Ford car lineup.


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