Greg Ferguson worked for Chris Humberstone Design (CHD) in Woking at the time he was designing the Forte. CHD became Rapport following the takeover by Ian Leaf. This was Greg Ferguson’s first job after graduating from Lanchester Polytechnic’s Industrial Design (Transportation) course in Coventry.
Undertaking detail styling and additionally developing the Forte logo he had moved on by the time of the Forte launch.
Greg states that “Chris wanted his car (the Forte) to have genuine performance and to be a genuine drophead. The only platform that offered both the performance and the chassis stiffness for a workable drophead was the two-door XJ coupe (Actually XJ12L Series 1 from 1973), so he bought a secondhand one, stripped the bodywork off it and then got a brilliant craftsman named Tony England to hand-build a new aluminium body for it. If you look, the floor pan, sills and suspension are standard Jaguar, as are the engine, transmission, rear axle and wheelbase.”
“The folding roof was Chris’s idea, based on some 1950s designs that he loved and wanted to re-imagine – he and I argued over it at some length as I favoured a targa-style removal roof panel with C-pillars that folded inwards. I had designed just such an arrangement on a re-working of the Panther Lima for my Honours project at Lanchester Polytechnic and considered it more flexible and less demanding of volume. The combination of aesthetics and geometry defined the roofline and the position of the hinge points, which is why the rear seats were almost leaning forward – the XJ wasn’t packaged with such a roof in mind. If you look, you’ll see the rear overhang of the Forte is rather less than that of the XJ, and the rear window is much further forward than on the original Jaguar.”
“I did the original calculations for the hydraulically powered roof mechanism and couldn’t believe the figures. I can’t remember now what they were but they seemed so high I was convinced that I was wrong. It turned I wasn’t – from what I recall, the Forte needed every pound of effort from the hydraulic rams to move the roof. It wasn’t an elegant set-up – we were hand-building a prototype and not certain how it would turn out and we were very happy with the final result, faults and all. I had left by the time Chris had sourced a suitable ram so wasn’t part of the final development process.”
However, Greg did attend the Park Lane and British Grand Prix launches of the Forte.
Sadly, all Greg’s sketches, drawings and renderings were, as commissioned by Chris Humberstone, returned to Chris and their fate is unknown.