Designers and Engineers


Alphonse (Al) Esper (1899-1985)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1917-1964
Major roles: Head of Wind Tunnel and Test Track, Executive Engineer Dearborn Proving Grounds
(image: p.833.89675 Acc. 1660 box 139)

Al Esper joined Ford Motor Company in 1917 working in the magneto department at the Tractor Plant in Dearborn. He eventually moved into the electrical department and then on to the powerhouse at the Rouge. In 1925, he was asked to work on the speedboat project in Dearborn as an electrician and worked there until the program shut down. He then moved onto the aircraft department working on engine development, and experimental work. In 1936, he was put in charge of the Wind Tunnel and Dynamometers and in 1939 was made foreman of the Test Track, Wind Tunnel, and Cold Room. He continued to rise through the ranks in this department, becoming a Senior Project Engineer in 1944 and Supervisor A in 1947. Esper later became the Executive Engineer at the Dearborn Proving Grounds and retired in 1964.

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Eugene Farkas (1881-1963)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1907, 1908, 1913-1947
Major roles: Head of Experimental Drafting Room, Chief Engineer Fordson Tractor, Experimental Engineer
(image: THF138753)

Eugene Farkas was hired into Ford Motor Company in 1907 to draw Model R and S production drawings, Farkas left the company soon after being hired because he wanted to work on experimental drawings. In 1908, he was rehired by Joseph Galamb, and worked on designing tools and fixtures for the Model T, but soon left the company again. Farkas was hired a third time, again by Galamb, in 1913 as the Head of the Experimental Drafting Room. One of his early projects was to design the chassis of the Edison-Ford electric car. In 1915, Farkas moved to the Ford tractor plant as Chief Engineer for the new tractor. During WWI, he designed a two cylinder engine to be used in a robotic bomb, and Ford’s three man 6 ton tank. In 1920, Farkas was charged with the design of Henry Ford’s pet project, the X engine, which he worked on for a number of years but it never developed into a useable engine. Farkas also worked out of his office in the Dearborn Engineering Laboratory on production methods for welding wire wheels, the four wheel brakes on the Model A, as well as a smaller 60HP V8 engine in 1936. During WWII, Farkas worked on updates to the B-24 bomber, designed a tank engine, and designed a 12 cylinder radial aircraft engine (which never went into production). Outside of auto design, Farkas often played his flute or piccolo for Ford’s public radio broadcasts and frequently participated in Ford’s old fashioned dances. Farkas retired in 1947.

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Joseph Galamb (1881-1955)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1905-1944
Major roles: Experimental Designer, Head of Engineering Department Highland Park, Automotive Designer
(image: THF143937)

Joseph Galamb began his career at Ford Motor Company at the Ford Piquette plant designing parts for the Model N. Henry Ford soon put him to work on experimental work in a private drafting room where Galamb worked on the Model T design. In 1914, he was put in charge of the Engineering Department at Highland Park and was responsible for any changes to the Model T (with Ford’s approval). During WWI, he was in charge of building submarine detectors for the Eagle Boats and designed a two man tank. Galamb also split his time between Highland Park and the new tractor plant, working on Fordson tractor development. After 1923, he had an office in the Dearborn Engineering Lab and throughout the 1930s had automotive body and frame design responsibilities. Galamb retired in 1944 due to poor health.

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Eugene Gregorie (1908-2002) 

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1931-1947 (with some time away from the company in the years after 1943)
Major roles: Head of Ford Design Department
(image: THF139387)

E.T. Gregorie was hired by Edsel Ford in 1932 and initially worked under Lincoln’s Chief Body Engineer, Henry Crecelius, at the Dearborn Engineering Laboratory designing Lincoln cars and custom bodies. In 1935, Gregorie was appointed head of the company’s new Design Department. Gregorie worked closely with Edsel Ford on vehicle design, with his most noted cars being the 1936 Lincoln Zephyr and 1939 Lincoln Continental. Gregorie built up the Design Department and introduced a number of innovations to vehicle design including the styling bridge for creating patterns from models. In addition to company cars, Gregorie designed a few personal cars for Edsel Ford including a 1932 boat tail speedster, as well as Henry Ford II’s beach wagon. Gregorie continued to work with Edsel Ford throughout WWII working on some war work but also beginning post war styling designs. After Edsel Ford passed away, Gregorie left the company, but returned for a few years during which time he designed the 1949 Mercury. Gregorie left Ford Motor Company in 1947.

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Harold Hicks (1894-1953)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1919-1932, 1946-1953

Major roles: Head of Speedboat Engineering, Chief Airplane Engineer, Supervising Engineer Body and Structures Laboratory

(image: THF138048) (Hicks is wearing a dark suit and glasses standing second in on the right side)

Harold Hicks joined the company in 1919 working on the Gas Engine Powered Street Car at the experimental laboratory at Fair Lane. When Edsel Ford started the speedboat program, Hicks moved to that department working on boat design and stayed there until the program was ended. In 1925, he started working in the Aircraft Division as head of engine overhaul and was soon the Chief Airplane Engineer. Under Hicks, the department expanded from 8 employees to 45 over the next 10 years as they developed and built various tri-motor airplanes, including the specially modified Floyd Bennett trimotor which Admiral Byrd flew over the South Pole. During his time in the airplane division, Hicks also worked on developing the new engine for the Model A. After the Airplane Division closed in 1932, Hicks moved to engine design under Larry Sheldrick for a while before leaving the company that same year. In 1946, Hicks returned to Ford as Supervising Engineer of the Body and Structures Laboratory running structural testing. Hicks passed away in 1953.

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Edward “Spider” Huff (1879-1933)
Man with mustache in front of large machinery

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1908/09-1912, 1925-1932
Major roles: Developer Flywheel Magneto, Experimental Electrician
Image: THF97968

Ed Huff’s association with Ford dates back possibly to the Quadricycle days, but certainly as an employee of the Detroit Automobile Company. Huff continued to work with Ford after the company dissolved, contributing to his racers and participating in races with Ford. When Ford Motor Company was established in 1903, Huff was involved as an independent supplier rather than an employee, working on magnetos, ignition coils, and other components. In 1907, Huff was asked by Ford to develop a flywheel magneto for the soon to be Model T, which he did and patented, assigning the rights to Ford. In 1908/1909, Huff joined the company as the Magneto Department Foreman. Huff continued with the company for a few years before leaving to join the Flanders Electric Company where he worked on developing electrical apparatus and was awarded several more patents. In 1917, he struck out on his own again, establishing Huff Laboratories Inc. and soon moved to Miami. Between 1919-1924 Huff sought royalties from Henry Ford for his magneto design, eventually suing and losing to Ford. By 1924, Huff Laboratories was bankrupt and Huff rejoined Ford Motor Company in 1925 after giving up all claims to royalties. Ford set him up in the Electrical Experimental Department at the Dearborn Engineering Laboratory where Huff had his own office and special privileges including chewing tobacco and a rocking chair. Huff worked on a number of projects for Ford including a radio for the Lincoln and a six pole generator for the Model A. Huff left the company due to ill health in 1932 and passed away the following year.

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R.H. (Hud) McCarroll (1890-1948)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1915-1948
Major roles: Chief Chemist, Director of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and Research
(image: P.189.10980 Acc.1660 box 136)

Hud McCarroll started working for Ford Motor Company at the Highland Park plant in 1915 as a Chemical Engineer on problems relating to car finishes, abrasives, and lubricants. He transferred to the Rouge around 1920, with his work there involving the blast furnaces, coke ovens, and foundry operations. McCarroll developed methods to use the by-products from Ford Motor Company operations in the coke ovens resulting in products including ammonium sulphate and benzol which Ford eventually sold through dealers. By 1925, he was Ford’s Chief Chemist in charge of all chemical and metallurgical research with a laboratory at Gate 4 at the Rouge and was also responsible for all Ford testing laboratories. McCarroll and his assistants developed special alloys of steel and iron and he became a well-known metallurgist. In 1928, Ford sent McCarroll to Sumatra to investigate rubber production. He was also involved in the development of industrial use for farm crops, representing Ford Motor Company at the first Dearborn Conference of the National Farm Chemurgic Conference in 1935. During WWII, he worked with the Pratt-Whitney engine contract taking responsibility for all lab tests required by the contract. In 1947, he was appointed Director of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and Research. McCarroll died in 1948.

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William B. Mayo (1866-1944)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1913/14-1932
Major roles: Chief Power Engineer, Chief Aircraft Engineer, Head of Aircraft Division
(image: THF140671)

William B. Mayo was hired into Ford Motor Company around 1913-1914 as Chief Power Engineer. He first worked on the installation of the nine gas-steam units at the Highland Park plant. In 1917, Mayo was given charge of planning and construction of the Rouge. Mayo also worked on several confidential projects with Henry Ford including assessing areas of the Upper Peninsula for lumber opportunities in 1920, and handling negotiations on Muscle Shoals. In 1922, Mayo was one of the chief negotiators in the purchasing of the Lincoln Motor Company. When Edsel Ford became president in 1919, Mayo became Edsel’s chief consultant. Mayo was named Chief Aircraft Engineer in 1919 and eventually headed the Aircraft Division. Under his direction, the company developed and built the trimotor, opened an airport, started a radio beacon, established regularly scheduled mail flights, passenger and freight service, an airport hotel, and built a mooring mast. Mayo retired from Ford in 1932.

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Laurence Sheldrick (1892-1981)
Man at desk in front of microphones

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1922-1943
Major roles: Chief Engineer
Image: THF138045

Larry Sheldrick started working as a layout man in the Lincoln Engineering Department just after Ford bought the company in 1922. In his early days at the company, he was often called upon to work with Gene Farkas on Henry Ford’s pet projects including a Fordson truck made of tractor parts and the X-8 engine. He shifted to production engineering working on aircraft engines, the lower horsepower English Ford, and was integral in the four-cylinder Model A engine. By 1932, he was functioning as chief engineer and had set up a test team and testing procedures for new engineering developments. Sheldrick oversaw many of the V-8 developments and worked on developing the Mercury, as well as tractor engineering in the late 1930s. During World War II, he worked on the Jeep, Amphibian Jeep, Light and Medium Armored trucks, and the M4 tank engine. He left the company in 1943.

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William B. Stout (1880-1956)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1925-1930
Major roles: Consultant, Stout Metal Airplane Division

(image: THF130311)

William Stout formed the Stout Metal Airplane Company in Detroit, MI in 1922, designing and building airplanes including the Air Sedan and 2-AT. In 1925, Stout was in need of an airplane factory and airport to expand operations, and convinced his stockholders to sell to Ford and Stout Metal Airplane became a division within the company. Stout thought of himself as an “Imagineer” and created many aircraft designs and innovations, some of which were successful, others not. In 1925, the company inaugurated Stout Air Services. With flights between Dearborn and Grand Rapids, it was the first regularly scheduled passenger airline in the U.S. The service, which operated with Ford-Stout Trimotor aircraft, later added routes to Chicago and Cleveland. Trimotors were quite popular with other airlines across the U.S. at the time, however during the Great Depression, trimotor sales dropped, and Stout left Ford in 1930.

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Childe Harold Wills (1878-1940)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1903-1919
Major roles: Chief Designer, Engineer, and Metallurgist
(image: THF109468 )

C. Harold Wills worked for Henry Ford before he started Ford Motor Company. In 1899 he worked as Ford’s assistant, and later as a draftsman for the Detroit Automobile Company. Wills helped Ford build the 999 and Arrow race cars as Ford was gearing up to start his new auto company. When Ford Motor Company was established, Wills continued working with Ford at the Mack Ave plant as Chief Designer, Engineer, and Metallurgist. Wills designed the Ford script for the logo as well. When the Ford Manufacturing Company was formed in 1905, Wills served as Secretary. During WWI, Wills had charge of the Liberty Engine production effort overseeing the building of 3940 engines. Wills resigned from the company in 1919.
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  • Last Updated Mar 27, 2024
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