120 Years of Ford, AI, Eloise and Sheds
This blog is about Ford and my first memories of the Ford Cortina, but before I share this with you, I want you to know the process I went through to create this blog.
Eloise (I know) is worried that I am bored, so she keeps asking me to do ‘everything’ !
The email she sent me in late April informed me that Ford was nearing its 120th anniversary. Not the 100th or 125th, but the 120th , which is a bit of an odd one, but there you go, who I am to ask questions. So I sat and thought through what I would cover in this latest post.
I am sure like me you have been reading about the fears of the new AI programmes running amok and creating chaos and misinformation. I have always been a geek, I still love computer coding, this goes back to my Sinclair ZX80 of the early 1980s when I read a book called something like “What you can do with 1k of RAM’. I won’t bore you any further about that, but it was fascinating reading!
I thought if I feed into an AI programme ‘Ford history….etc etc..’ I could then generate a blog in seconds, pass it back to Eloise and pretend that I had spent days creating it, losing sleep under the pressure of creating it. Not that simple though, as the first article generated was about Ford and America. We all know Ford is one of the great American companies, but my memories of Ford are about Capris, Escorts and Cortinas and these were not mentioned at all. I refined the search to talk about Europe and I got a result, still not good enough, but I rewrote it as follows:
After a bit of toing and froing I decided that this wasn't very interesting; most of you know about the history of Ford anyway, so presenting the above was just a waste of time. My head began spinning as I used this new AI technology, but in the end I decided that I would have to put in some effort and write the blog myself, which was a bit annoying as I wanted to spend time designing a new shed for the garden.
My second idea was to generate all the images into a table with links to the website. I got to 4 vehicles as shown below.
|N105001||Maroon/Cream Anglia In Stock||1962 Ford Anglia||1:148|
|N105002||Maroon/Grey Ford Anglia||1962 Ford Anglia||1:148|
|N105003||Police Panda Ford Anglia In Stock||1962 Ford Anglia||1:148|
|N105004||Grey/WhiteFord Anglia||1962 Ford Anglia||1:148|
As part of the blog I could also impress you with my raw HTML coding, a sample of which is as follows:
<table width="100%"><tbody><tr><td>Product</td><td>Description</td><td>Bodyshape</td><td>Scale</td><td>Picture</td></tr><tr><td><a href="https://www.oxforddiecast.co.uk/products/ford-anglia-car-maroon-cream-n105001" title="N105001 Maroon/Cream Anglia">N105001</td><td>Maroon/Cream Anglia In Stock</td><td>1962 Ford Anglia</td><td>1:148</td><td><img src="https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0488/9369/0011/files/N105001-1_120x120.jpg?v=1684505953" alt="N105001" /></td></tr></tbody></table>
I played around with it, but after creating the text felt this was plain boring – something you would scan through, find dull and press the delete key.
My third idea was to discuss the Oxford Model T, (when writing this blog I released that this September we celebrate 30 years since the introduction of the first Bullnose, so I am awaiting an email from Eloise. “Daaaad can you write a blog on the Bullnose……”).
The 3rd attempt read as follows:
Model T hand made samples from early 1995
I reached this far before I realised that it was becoming far too emotional, I needed to move on.
So I stopped for a few days and spent time designing my shed and thinking, whilst doing this I thought about the Monty Python sketch called Arthur 'Two Sheds' Jackson, which always makes me laugh, if you haven't seen it then here's the link (was told off by Eloise as she says "I should keep people on this page and not send them elsewhere", but there you go...)
I have more time on my hands now, so I have started walking; places far more interesting than the train stations and airports of the world. Tiring of just wandering through the local parks I have looked for other places, which led me to the paths that run alongside the River Tawe which flows through the centre of Swansea; 100 years ago it was the biggest docks in world. Hidden memories are still visible in the ruins of the old factory foundations that can still be seen there. Back then 60% of the worlds copper flowed through Swansea, locally the town was nicknamed Copperopolis.
On my walks I have seen dried up canals and blocked underground tunnels. Whilst on one of these walks I reflected on my times as a 10 to 15 year old. I have started teaching (once a month) design in Townhill School to year six pupils - the school I attended in Swansea. I need some different content for next term (more of that in another blog). In the first lessons I gave them all Ford Mustang Quickbuilds- around 100 so far (thank you to the Airfix team at Hornby for your help with this).
I wondered what would happen if I asked them about Ford, would they even know the name, what would it mean to them. They may turn to an AI programme for an answer, at their age I would have been thinking about my life’s experiences. So finally we are going to get to the bit about Ford and my first recollection and also to meet the brief given to me by Eloise.
I have written many times over the years about my collection of car brochures, my memory has faded a bit, but I started collecting car brochures when I was around nine years old. To get this timing correct I hunted through the garage and found the first brochure that started of my hobby (or maybe a better word is obsesssion), it was this one from 1969.
My first car brochure - the Cortina MKII
We did not have a car back then, so I was living the dream thinking about the vehicle I would choose (I did have toy cars though, and would line up Corgi Land Rovers – Longleat, Chipperfield, Military etc).
One day I walked into CEM Days which had a garage on St Helens Road in Swansea, it was the Ford dealership, I entered the showroom and was very nervous. Fortunately a friendly salesperson found it quite funny that I had appeared there alone at such a young age, he asked me what car I would be buying and was I paying cash. He gave me the Ford Cortina brochure above, it has all those Cortinas on the front and each had a name on the number plate. I can barely read them now, either the brochure has faded or my eyesight is deteriorating.
- DE LUXE
- DE LUXE
I spent days reading that brochure (we did not have a TV), what intrigued me most is why some had the same name, until I realised the duplicates were estates versions. The 1600E saloon was the easiest to identify as it had that stripe on the side along with the Lotus badge, but they were few and far between.
Over the years that same salesman would always hand me the latest brochures when I visited the showroom. It was a MK3 Cortina brochure that brought back fond memories, I can already hear you thinking ‘Never realised; Taff hasn’t just lost it, he’s never had it….'
The Ford Cortina brochure circa 1970/71
The Ford Cortina brochure circa 1970/71 page 10 and 11 were my favourites as they showed the side images and the information on each style.
The Line drawings which led to the Design Cells.
That brochure helped me learn something about myself.
I could read and understand, but to fully understand I was better rewriting what I had read. So that is what I started doing, writing book after book recreating my versions of the car brochures and magazines that I had read. I didn't think any had survived until my brother found one recently in the basement of the old family house where we grew up, he presented it to me on my 60th birthday, with that look only an 'older' brother could give you....
One of my books from 1975 shows the prices back then.
Having created these books covering the catalogues or magazine articles, I would never forget the details. I would even create drawings copying the outlines of the cars.
Another page this time the Chrysler Alpine - I must have been bored !!!
My paper round was my main source of funds back then, one morning as I walked up the hill towards Glanmor Post Office at around 6:30am, there it was.
A Ford Cortina MK3 looking straight at me parked on the side of the road. Straightaway I knew it was either a Cortina/Cortina L or XL as it had single front headlights. As I got closer I identified it as the Cortina XL because it had rubber strips in the bumper. The thrill I felt as I passed it and saw that XL badge on the rear still brings a tingle to my spine today. Over the next year, two more Cortinas appeared on my paper round, and much to my delight, one was a GXL.
I recalled this car brochure in the 1990s whilst getting upset when one of the Oxford vehicles was painted in the wrong pink colour (BULL004). In future I declared ‘No Oxford product would be produced without a Design Cell’, I photocopied the specification page of the Cortina brochure, gave it to the model maker and told him that I wanted one of these for every product we produced. All you needed was an PC and Corel Draw I told him, so from BULL006 onwards we had Design Cells. It was many years later that other companies adopted this same format.
Bull006 - first Oxford Design Cell.
76COR3009 - a Design Cell from the last few years - note the line drawings - a throwback!
So what does it all mean. I read that AI will continually learn and improve, but the question I ask is how will it have ‘lifes experiences’. What do I mean by that?
Well Eloise asked me for an article about Ford – she got something about Ford but with my lifes experiences. If you were writing about Ford, it would bring back different results depending on your memories:
- Your first car
- Your first date
- Your first breakdown
- Your first car that was stolen
- The Ford strikes in the 1970's
- Etc etc
So I think the answer to the fears of AI, is that we should all to have our own AI capturing our thoughts and memories, a tape recording of our lives. Your own AI being added to by opening the 'taps' to other people experiences and other trusted resources. I am sceptical of those who speak out about AI, I think many are doing so with the long term objectives of financial gain, whilst other are just 'hangers on' who think they know everything, but actually know nothing. The biggest challenge is the rise of bias and discrimination and that will not be easy to contole.
I have used some AI to create the following images. I used the creative terms shown with each image that gave me the following results!
|A Cortina Mark 3 and Ford Capri MK1||Boy in car showroom (those are my eyes !)|
|Boy spots car he likes on street||A Cortina Mk3 Rally Car|
|A Fork Lift Cortina Mk3||A Cortina Mk 3 rocket flying to the moon|
At this point I submitted my blog to Eloise for approval.
My words "Hi Eloise, can you let me know if this is OK. I can add some more if you want ?"
Eloise Response: "I think we'll leave it there Dad, do you think you should take some time off and have a rest ?
You can't win can you, just another one of my lifes experiences!!!
There is a Ford Bundle - so for anyone interested follow this link FORD BUNDLE
I do look at all comments, but I am unable to answer, so don't feel I am ignoring you.
Until next time
PS: If you haven’t seen that Monty Python sketch, you should, as I am expecting plenty of comments about my shed and nothing about Ford 😊
Me just being creative - can you spot the shed !