WATCH | 1994's Mustang interior had a helping hand from Ford's first black female designer

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You've probably never heard of Emeline King unless you're a mega Mustang fan, or perhaps you came across her book in late 2021, What Do You Mean A Black Girl Can't Design Cars? She Did It!.

King is just one great female pioneer we can celebrate in the automotive industry. She was the first black female transport designer at Ford, and she is most known for designing the interior of the new-for-1994 SN95 Ford Mustang.

King followed in her father's footsteps; he was a plastic model specialist at the Blue Oval brand. According to Ford Performance's website, King fell in love with the Ford Mustang as a child. She later studied transportation design before joining Ford Motor Company in 1983. 

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Yet, King also contributed to the design of the 1990 Ford Probe, among other vehicles. She patented a 15-inch wheel cover for the 1989 Thunderbird. King's other contributions include the 1989 Thunderbird interior components, the 1989 Corporate Steering Wheel, the 1989 Thunderbird Wheel/Wheel cover design programme, the 1990 Thunderbird Super Coupe, the 1993 Mach III, the 1994 Mustang, the 1994 Mustang Official Pace Car Roll Bar/Graphics, the 2000 Two-Seater Thunderbird, and the 2004 Lincoln Aviator Interior Door Scuff Panel and Interior components, just to name a few.

When she was only nine years old, and other little girls were playing with dolls, she was playing with toy cars.

Emeline King with some of her first car drawings a
Emeline King with some of her first car drawings at age 9.

According to King, Ford products were always in her family. They owned Mustangs, Mavericks, a Capri, Thunderbirds and Lincolns.

Her father played a massive role in her career, and after she had learned about the role of a transportation designer, her mind was set. Young men tried to discourage King and told her "Girls can't draw cars! You should use your little hands to become a nurse, librarian or choose a domestic career that is more female-oriented."

But that just fueled her motivation. She then made a three-fold promise to herself: 1) One day, she was going to become a transportation designer; 2) She was going to work at Ford Motor Company; and 3) She was going to design cars, with her No. 1 mentor being her father.

King retired from Ford in 2008 and is now a freelance artist and author.

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