McKinley Thompson Jr., Ford’s First African American Designer Followed His Dreams, Made History Helping Pen Original 1966 Bronco
DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 24, 2020 – Bronco is the product of legendary talent, from the teams who won the Baja 1000 to the collectors who restore them today. But there’s one legend in the story of the Bronco who not only helped create the first Ford 4x4 sports-utility vehicle design, he made history, becoming one of the first African American designers in the industry.
McKinley Thompson Jr., a Ford designer who helped pen the first-generation Bronco, was the first African American designer hired at Ford Motor Company after graduating from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California with a degree in transportation design in 1956.
His first assignment was at Ford’s advanced design studio in Dearborn, working under George Walker, vice president of Ford design. “McKinley was a man who followed his dreams and wound up making history,” said Ford Bronco interior designer Christopher Young. He not only broke through the color barrier in the world of automotive design, he helped create some of the most iconic consumer products ever – from the Ford Mustang, Thunderbird and Bronco – designs that are not only timeless but have been studied by generations of designers.
One of his designs, titled “Package Proposal #5 for Bronco,” rendered July 24, 1963, influenced the design language that would become iconic attributes of the first-generation Bronco.
Feb 25, 2020 at 20:10