1973 marked a major turning point in the auto industry. It was a year marred by an unprecedented oil crisis that forced Americans to rethink their definition of a car. Automakers were implementing drastic changes as executives worried about the cost of meeting rumored fuel economy standards that were to be enforced nationally. Fuel prices were going up, shortages were increasingly common, and motorists were flocking to smaller vehicles. It’s in this grim context that Ford started developing the Fox platform.
The events of 1973 didn’t fully take Ford by surprise. Documents published internally in 1977 explain its executives noticed “spot shortages of gasoline,” both by oil company and by area, as early as 1972. It made two significant decisions that year: It formed a small, management-level committee to discuss what a worldwide fuel shortage would mean for its business, and it created its Product Planning and Research (PPR) division, which was tasked with mapping out Ford’s long-term global product range.