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First Black Ford Automobile Designer

If you’ve ever heard of Ford cars then you’re aware of the many beautiful designs they have but have you heard about their first black designer?

Did you know, Mckinley Thompson Jr helped create some of those designs an was infact the first black man to do so?

McKinley Thompson Jr., a Ford designer who helped pen the first-generation Bronco.

Mr. Thompson was the first African American designer hired at Ford Motor Company in 1956.

He was a designer on the first generation Ford Bronco , the first generation mustang ,the Thunderbird and the Ford GT40 race car.

History Of McKinley Thompson Jr.

Thompson was born in Queens, New York. As a child, he showed great interest in cars. He attended Murray Hill High School in New York City, where he graduated in 1940. Thompson joined the U.S. Army in 1941 and served during WWII as an engineering design layout coordinator for the Army Signal Corps. After the war, Thompson worked in the Signal Corps until 1953.

In 1953, he applied to a scholarship competition called From Dream to Drawing Board to? for the Art Center College of Design that was hosted by Motor Trend magazine.

He won first place in the competition and became the first African American to attend the school. Thompson graduated in 1956 and subsequently began working at the Ford Motor Company, hired by Alex Tremulis.

Fun Facts

  • Upon graduation in 1956, he interviewed for a design position with Ford and was hired immediately, breaking the color barrier at another automotive institution.
  • Thompson’s early design work were for a light cab-forward truck.
  •  he also contributed sketches for the Mustang, GT40, and futuristic Gyron concept car.
  • Thompson broke through the color barrier in automotive design, and his work helped inspire some of the most recognizable cars ever made.

With all the talk about cars don’t forget to celebrate back history month by booking your next travel.

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