The Bronco Sport wasn't in the original plan at Ford.
It started out as a boxy, bland, nondescript, unmemorable small SUV — definitely not part of a legendary Bronco family.
And the Mustang Mach-E SUV was initially going to be a cautious toe in the water for an automaker debuting its first all-electric vehicle.
Now each SUV has a waiting list.
Owners of the 2021 Bronco Sport report being treated like Hollywood royalty. And the impressive off-road driving features have been designed to challenge Jeep and live up to the qualities that make the Bronco one of the most valuable collector cars in history.
As far as the Mach-E, a dealer in California reported 40 orders in a single night.
The dramatic change in direction began 3½ years ago with no public discussion.
Jim Hackett, named CEO in May 2017, decided to bring Jim Farley back from Europe and appoint him president of Ford global markets.
Behind the scenes, Hackett and Farley divvied up new product programs into three categories: so far down the pipeline that there couldn't be substantial and meaningful change, pretty far along but not so far that changes couldn't be made and just the beginning with a lot of flexibility.
Bronco Sport and Mach-E fell into the middle category; it wasn't too late to revise.
Jim Baumbick, senior product-development executive on both projects, said Tuesday while all vehicles have a natural evolution, these were unique in that they were connected to two iconic brands. Farley, in his global-markets role, "was a big part of the inspiration."
The man who put his fingerprints on the design and pushed the designers to get out of their comfort zone was Farley, said Mark Truby, chief communications officer. But it was Hackett who urged the team to re-examine the product line.
Hackett and Farley had to say to Bill Ford, "We're thinking of doing something." And Ford, executive chairman of the company and a longtime fan of the classic Mustang, said, "You're not messing with the Mustang are you?"
Ford has admitted his first reaction was, well, no way. But they continued to meet.
In early 2019, the three executives were joined by Hau Thai-Tang, longtime chief of product development, on the 12th Floor of Ford world headquarters.
The team went through step by step with Bill Ford, helping him get comfortable with the idea. He asked tough questions.
Farley acknowledged the discomfort, and Ford indicated he was warming to the idea but wanted to drive the vehicle and see it in the flesh.
"The designers were unleashed," Truby recalled. "We had a lot of debate about the Mach-E with Mustang cues or so far as putting the pony on the badge and calling it a Mustang."
At this point, Farley said new Ford products simply had to have a strong identity. He wanted sharper design and new technology. If a Ford didn't have a Blue Oval, he wanted consumers to recognize it anyway.
The Mach-E debuted in November 2019 at the L.A. Auto Show.
Then, when Farley turned to the upcoming midsize SUV in the pipeline, he led a team of executives who came up with the idea of making Bronco a family instead of just the traditional 2-door and 4-door Bronco. So Bronco Sport was redesigned to mirror the rugged classic Bronco.
Hackett put Joe Hinrichs in charge of manufacturing operations and Farley in charge of "autos 2.0" and the future in April 2019. The move "accelerates progress" on global business redesign and product resurgence, the company said in a news release.
No one really knew what that meant at the time.
Farley went from sharing the No. 2 lieutenant spot under Hackett to becoming chief operating officer in February 2020 and then CEO in October 2020.
Now Farley is leading the launches for products he helped bring to life.