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A Ford product mind is drawn to water, again

News that Ford's chief engineer for the 2011 Focus, Jens Ludmann, is quitting to run sailing and motor yacht maker Bavaria Yachtbau brings to mind a story from Ford lore. Water has been a lure to creators of Ford products before.

Early in his career, after the tailfin era had passed, Jack Telnack was one frustrated designer. He found so little opportunity to express his creativity on the job that he kept himself sane by designing powerboats after hours.

Eventually, Telnack's bosses would invite him to shape a car that he would be proud to have on his driveway. That car turned out to be the Taurus. It made Ford a symbol of corporate comebacks in the 1980s and lifted Telnack's name beyond the business pages.

One line from a 1987 New York Times Magazine profile focused on his 41-foot sailboat: "On his days off, he takes Mirage out to race. He loves its lines, he says; they were the work of a nautical designer and an industrial designer working together."

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