The 1989-1994 Mercury Capri was produced by Ford in Australia. While the Capri was known for several annoying defects, much of its underlying design, based on the Mazda 323, was very durable. Despite the defects, many owners felt they had a good car.
Bad luck, bad decisions by Ford and an aging fleet made Capri ownership more difficult. A fire at the plant in Australia destroyed some of the tooling used to produce the vehicle, reducing the supply of replacement parts. Ford made the shortage worse by abandoning support for the Capri, ending the supply of Ford-made parts for the car and ending shipments of parts from Australia to Ford’s dealers in the USA. The Capris on the road today are declining in value, which reduces what owners will pay to repair them. Finally, the declining number of cars on the road made the investment in molds and tooling that would take years to pay off uneconomical, reducing the number of firms willing to create parts for the Capri.
The one of the most common problems encountered by Capri owners is a broken glove box handle. Our customer approached us knowing they wanted a glove box handle but having no idea how to get one. With Ford out of the market and the original tooling destroyed, there was simply no supplier for replacement glove box handles. There were some retrofit options on the market but none of them were simple, appealing or durable.
With no drawings or specifications coming from Ford, we set about to reverse engineer the glove box handle. We examined the handle and the way it interfaced with the latch. Our review led us to two conclusions: the resin used to mold the handle was not very strong, and the thickness of the section of the part that failed was completely inadequate.
Since the customer faced a limited budget and a declining number of cars on the road, simply using a stronger resin, thickening the easily broken section of the handle and building a standard injection mold was not the best solution. Knowing that the mold would not be used for many lengthy production runs, we manufactured a mold from aluminum, significantly reducing the time and cost needed to create the mold. Aluminum molds wear out much more quickly than steel molds, but the customer’s anticipated quantities were low enough that the mold would still produce enough parts to meet their needs. In the end the customer was able with only a modest investment to provide an excellent solution to Capri owners. The customer was able to re-coup their initial investment in tooling after 3 months of sales.
Listening helped us understand the customer’s unique needs, and by paying attention to details we created a part that worked well in the car and required an investment that made sense for the customer. Whatever your situation, we’re confident we can find the right solution for you.