By Steve Woodhouse Editor
The Journal Express
---- — The dream of driving a car with 662 horsepower, capable of reaching speeds of over 200 miles per hour is a reality, thanks in part to Attica native Bryan Hoy.
Hoy is a 1987 Twin Cedars High School alumnus. While back in town for a class reunion, Hoy, a Product Development Engineer for the Ford Motor Company’s Powertrain Special Vehicle Team, entertained a group of nearly 30 Mustang enthusiasts in Pella, sharing stories of the great things the 2013 Shelby is capable of.
“I’ve always been a car guy,” Hoy said. He grew upon a farm, one in which equipment would occasionally require some engine work, which he would perform himself. As he grew up, Hoy began working on other vehicles, including a race car he once drove at the Knoxville Raceway.
Hoy attended Iowa State University, along with his high school sweetheart, Sherri (daughter of Roger Westra of Pella). The two were married in Ames and now have three children.
He first went to work for Ford in 2000 in the engine manufacturing department. In 2007, he moved into product development, before being laid off in 2008. His layoff, which he learned about shortly after the tornado hit his family’s farm in Attica, lasted for 18 months. In that time, he performed some freelance work. Overall, he and Sherri got by on savings and her pay as a Microsoft employee. The conservative upbringing he received in Marion County helped them out financially.
While he was unemployed, he heard about an opening on the Special Vehicle Team at Ford. He called a friend to see about applying for the job, only to find out his friend was the one who would be replaced.
“He said, ‘I know all about it, because that’s my job,’” Hoy recalls. He was brought in on a contract, then rehired to full-time status after six months.
Hoy takes pride in working for Ford, the only Detroit-based American auto manufacturer that did not accept a federal bailout. Hoy says this has also given the company a competitive advantage, as the federal government placed some restrictions on the kinds of vehicles the other two of the big three — General Motors and Chrysler – can develop.
“(Ford) has done pretty well as far as managing,” Hoy said. “Ford probably came back sooner because they had more products in the pipeline.” The company may be hiring between 2,000-3,000 more employees soon. One of the Ford vehicles that could have been jeopardized by a bailout is also one of its most successful, the F-150 truck. Though Ford continues to produce this truck, Hoy says the company offers many other vehicles with a high fuel economy.
Each vehicle is considered for its potential to sell, including the Shelby, which Hoy and his team have developed. As a group, they looked at the value and performance, with an understanding that there are, and will always be, Mustang lovers.
“We have to make it sell as a market equation,” Hoy said. The days are gone in which a car company can produce program vehicles without ensuring there would be a market for them.
Hoy said the Shelby’s target market is wide, including those who are financially set, die-hard racers and guys who just want to show off their cars. All 2013 Shelby owners will be able to tell people they own the world’s most powerful V-8 engine — with a warranty.
One of the benefits of his job is that he gets to test drive these vehicles. The Shelby has been taken to numerous tracks around the country, and the world, to see how it handles and what it can do.
The final product delivered to dealership rarely, if ever, completely matches the original concept design. Every piece of the vehicle, according to Hoy, will be tweaked and improved before the car is taken to the assembly line.
Cooperation and teamwork are necessary when developing a new vehicle. Hoy says he can serve as a sounding board, or intermediary, between different departments during the process. Like any job, Hoy said this occupation can have its challenges and can get frustrating.
Inspiration for entering this line of work can be traced back to TCHS. Hoy remembers shop teacher Jim Severe was a Mustang enthusiast. He also credits inspiration from all science, shop and ag teachers at TCHS.
Hoy calls himself a “truck guy,” and remembers having three in his lifetime. The 2013 Shelby Mustang is about as close to Hoy’s dream car as he can imagine.
“It would be cool to have one of the Shelbys,” Hoy said. For those thinking about buying one, he said the car will never be cheaper than what it is priced at when brand new.
When not working, Hoy enjoys camping with his family. The drive from their home in South Lyon, Mich., to Attica, takes about 10 hours. He still tries to get back four to five times each year.
Hoy is living his dream, doing what he has always loved to do. He does not take the credit for his success.
“God gave me the desire to work on cars,” Hoy said. He added that God’s grace and plan are the only ways he has been able to achieve what he has. Developing cars for Ford, he adds, is a total team effort, and he is one piece of a large puzzle that makes new vehicles a reality.