|Holly Clark Interview
This is an interview we did with Holly Clark, the daughter of one of the original designers for the Mustang I Prototype and was the main who designed the galloping horse logo we have come to know. We already have posted The Phil Clark Story which she wrote in remembrance for her father. We suggest you read that story before reading through this interview for some background information on this interesting story.
HOLLY CLARK INTERVIEW
Birthplace: Billericky Essex, England
Birthdate: December. 15, 1965
First Car: 1976 Buick Regal
Phillip Thomas Clark
Birthdate: October. 27, 1935
First Car: 1957 Studebaker
MuscularMustangs.com: When and how did you first realize that your father was a part of the Mustang design team?
Holly Clark: When I found a letter in my grandmother's attic (mother's mother) that said so. It was written by John Breeden of Ford. It was confirmation for my father to 'put him back in his Swiss Friend's good graces'. (Seems people didn't believe him either..even then). This was somewhere around 1985
MM.com What was your childlife like (without your father)?
Holly Clark: Whoa...this cuts deep. (The rest of these will too, I imagine.) I think the question would be, "What would life have been WITH my father," a question I continually ask myself. I lived with mom and Grandma (her mother) & Grandad Underhill until mother remarried my step-dad. (He was her VW mechanic and a race car driver on the weekends.) We then rented from the Underhills about 2 blocks away and I still stayed with them most of the time..not with mom and my stepdad. My Real dad's (I affectionately refer to him as DaddyPhillip) mother would come and get me on the weekends--Grandmother Clark.
I spent almost every weekend with them (Grandmother & Granddaddy Clark & Uncle David)...and they helped drive me places to help Grandma Underhill and mom out...and to have influence on me. In 1976 my mother and step father moved me out in the country and away from the influence of either of my grandparents. There is lots to tell here...but by the time I was a pre-teen I was living with my Grandma Underhill.
Grandmother Clark would come and drive me home from school and Grandma Underhill would take me. (They were in their 70's raising a teenager..together). When that got to be too much...I was returned briefly to my mother who gave up her parental rights to me and DaddyPhillip's sister took over guardianship of me. This was an alternative to the Foster Home that was choosen for me. The Clark's would not have that.
MM.com How come none of your other family members brought attention to the fact that Phil Clark was a large part of the original Mustang I Prototype Design Team?
Holly Clark: Mother couldn't bare to talk of my father at all. Much of her anger towards me was because I look so much like him, but he wasn't around...just me...a reminder of what she had lost. Occasionally when she was drinking she would speak of my father and how much she was in love with him...and would always love him. She could hardly bare life without him. There were no photo's of him on the walls. I don't believe I ever saw a photo of him. Actually, Grandmother Underhill mentioned dad and that he was amazing. She had a drawing of his over her bed. I didn't know until she left it to me, that he had drawn it! It was always there...ever since I can remember.
Grandmother Clark made it impossible to talk about dad. It was like he died yesterday and to bring his name up would depress her for weeks. When I found the information in the attic, I was scared to tell anyone..because everyone made it clear we weren't to talk about my father. The whole family was so grieved just to mention his name. When I finally spoke to my aunt (Barb) about the Mustang...she said, "Oh I knew, I just didn't think it was a big deal, and I don't think anyone else will either." At that point I felt like Cinderella of the Auto world! I had discovered who I really was..and began to meet my dad through the journey.
MM.com What thoughts go through your head when you look through old photos of your dad?
Holly Clark: I hear his words from his diaries, his letters, his poems and his songs. His whole life had purpose. I feel pain, almost agony over the loss of him. I wish I could remember the touch that I can almost feel when he holds me in photos. I want him to be proud of me, like I am of him. Most of all, I have stared into his eyes, to find the man I never knew, and to find myself in the process. I see me in his eyes.
MM.com Has anybody in your family told you what your dad was like and how he acted?
Holly Clark: Yes. Just recently I began to interview them. Even mother speaks more of him. I was not able to talk to Grandmother Clark about him, other than to tell her I was going to work on what she wanted...to have him remembered, and to have the Clark name remembered. She just smiled...she didn't think I could do it.
Most of my interviews were from his colleges, however. To sum dad up would be impossible, but he was a REAL prankster. The stories and jokes are endless. He was a great story-teller. 40 years later, people STILL have his letters. They are like mini-books, and they are captivating! He would send letters to Ford Detroit, while in England. Everyone would gather around at lunch to listen to his collegues read the letter! He wrote songs..and tried to get them published. He was a AWESOME piano player...won awards and played for large audiences. I have his Harpsicord. His last purchase from Harrods. He also played guitar, and recorder. (I have the recorder also). He was into science fiction movies..and did a GREAT Hoax in Nashville Tennessee with photos, drawings and camera angles.
Had everyone believing he actually SAW aliens! Grandmother found out, and was livid! Made him call the papers and tell them it was untrue! (After it was published!) He was into Aerodynamics and scientific studies. Man..I can't believe all he could do! You name it, he did it! He was trying to get a book published upon his death, and was hired by Milton Canniff to do cartoons...and was also being sought after by Chrysler for his vehicles!....but he had a dark side...he was deep in his thoughts. He was very sick, and didn't want people to see him that was, so he would confine himself when the outside world got to be too much. Mom said he would work all week and then crash for about 3 days...not able to get out of bed. AND he had the Clark temper....(we all have that I think!)
MM.com Do you know what your dad's first car was or at least something that he drove at some point?
Holly Clark: 57 Studebaker....then when he was hired with GM a Corvair...he drove that while with Ford, and in England purchased an MG, which mom sold after he died. I remember the MG fondly.
MM.com What do you think of your dad's drawings and the final design of that prototype?
Holly Clark: Amazing! I can't believe that he did these designs in the late 50's early 60's. I think they are really awesome! I would LOVE to have a Mustang Prototype to drive! and this is 2005! He was so far ahead of his time! I didn't know how much the drawings resembled the final version until the 40th anniversary. It was like dad's baby came to life..there is no denying it! The drawings were dated early May 1962..and here was the car..out in October 62. Unbelievable!
MM.com Have you ever found the original emblem made out of cardboard that you mentioned in the story?
Holly Clark: No. We believe ihe turned it into Ford...after further research. There is video of someone holding up a cardboard horse to the clay model... My family figures that must be the one he made to turn in...and Ford kept everything and destroyed it...is my understanding. We did, however find the first cast horse, and a piece of the Mustang's interior.
MM.com If your father was alive today, do you think that he would take pride in the fact that his original work led to the making of one of America's favorite automobiles?
Holly Clark: Oh yes! That is exactly what he wanted. You would be surprised how much of his influence is on other automobiles! We found evidence of his work on The Mark IV...the Lincoln, the Thunderbird, Vacationer, Ford Trucks...and much more...not to mention his design for the 'flip up headlights' on the Prototype...originally turned in to GM before...hmmm wonder what they were on... Dad was one of a VERY FEW designers in the World...and ran with the like of the Father of Lamborgini and many others. He was working to launch Britain in the right direction too...when he was taken from us so quickly.
MM.com Are you a Mustang fan of any sort?
Holly Clark: Oh Yes! DieHARD!!!!! I have Stang stuff EVERYWHERE..and most of my wardrobe has stangs on them!
MM.com Which design do you find the most appealing and what do you think of the new 2005 model?
Holly Clark: I love the fastback. It looks like dad's design he called the Mustang Coupe. I LOVE and always wanted a Mach I!!! (69!) (My first boyfriend's brother had one, and I LOVED to ride in it! and that was BEFORE I knew about dad and the Mustang...) BUT I am about to die for a new 2005 convertible! I really like it! I just went to the Ford House and sat in one. I think dad would be very proud of it..it looks like him..and being in one, makes me feel closer to him.
MM.com Also, do you think you would be a fan if it wasn't for this discovery?
Holly Clark: Yes...I loved the Mach I before I ever knew about dad!!! I think it is in the Blood...really! I was born a car fanatic, but...I like to be different than everyone else. I don't want something that EVERYONE has! So, no matter what I have, I want to make it specific to me... I haven't been able to afford the stang yet..but I had to have a truck for the farm. My F-250 has a Mustang on the Front Billik Grill...and a sticker on the window..with the original stang...says, "Cause dad did it, That's Why!"
MM.com What was your reaction when J Mays wrote you the letter telling you that the "big man" [Bill Ford] at the Ford Motor Company had research done on your father?
Holly Clark: Relief! Finally someone took my findings seriously. Finally my family could get some justice for their loss...as his name would be honored..and finally I would not be the laughing stock of my friends. I had always been proud of dad..but people would just give me the knowing smile and talk behind my back. I was TOLD I was crazy...(and imagine what THAT meant in my circles when I was claiming that dad designed the Mustang???) Vindication...I cried and then I went out to share the story to anyone who would listen...where as before I had learned to keep my knowledge to myself. My son has been laughed at so much, he still doesn't tell anyone who his grandfather is...but he quietly said, "When I get a Mustang, I will put a metal plate in the step of the door..and it will say, "Body By Clark"....
MM.com I believe you are trying to get a carshow started in honor of your father. Can you give us some information on where and when you are planning to have this take place (And whatever else you'd like to add)
Holly Clark: The Show is going to be in Rusk Texas..about 1 1/2 hours from Houston and Dallas and Shreveport La.... It is scheduled for the July 4th weekend...July 2, and 3. The show will be Saturday morning in the Square, after the parade. Registration is 8am..or be pre-registered...and the parade is at 10am...Show following immediately after. We are not charging for the show..and are looking for sponsors for trophies in all the classes...the names of the sponsors will be on the trophies. We will have to charge for individual things...like T-shirts...etc..since there is no charge for the show.
After the Show, everyone is invited to Cherokee County Motorosports Park-Dragstrip...
for Racing, Fireworks, and Jet Cars! Sunday at 12:30, I will be having a BBQ..probably on my farm...for anyone who wishes to visit with my family and talk to me about my father. I wanted to give all the people I have met along the way, an opportunity to come visit...and this seemed to be a good way to do it. I have someone from the NorthEast Texas Mustang Club, putting together the sign up sheets. Also, I would like to thank Russ Kintz. I mean, without him, I wouldn't be doing the show.
MM.com Now, going somewhat shamefully off topic, what do you think of our site?
Holly Clark: I really love it! It is very imformative..and the photo's are awesome. The people who are on the message boards etc..seem like family! Thank you for the honor of being a part of such a wonderful and informative Mustang site! It is great that you are not scared to go beyond the norm...You reach out to keep things exciting! Great job!
MM.com I'm sure there are people who've made this journey even more special. So, who would you like to thank?
Holly Clark: Not to sound like I am recieving an award..but honestly...without God..none of this would be possible. He has directed me more than I probably even know. The people I have met..well it's been a dominoe effect! But besides God:
First: My grandparents...and Barb....and the rest of my family, including my husband.
Also: Jack Telnack...a good friend of dads from Ford...who was willing to share my dad's life with me as busy as he was.
Carroll Shelby, for treating my like his own daughter when I first dared to speak to him! I imagine dad to be very much like Mr. Shelby is with his notarity...still very Real..and caring.
John Force, for making me feel honored to be Phil's daughter, and he too is honored to drive a racecar and STILL keep the Stang on the front bumper to continue to run the race ahead of the very best! (Dad's horse crosses the finish line even before Mr. Force!) Racing a stang..that is what is was all about!
Bill Ford...for having the guts to have the research done about dad..even though it would change the history books...and J.Mays for sending me the confirmation letter.
Chris Miller and Paul Tasteos....wonderful men that went to art school and worked with dad.
John Thrower & Ogden...friends of dad's since elementary school.
The guys..including the clay modelers...and Joe Oros, Donald Frey and many others..I can't remember all their names..that worked side by side with dad..and told me their stories!
Randy Leffingweld..for having the GUTS to include dad in the history...despite what everyone else said, and published his name!...and for Negstad for telling him the truth behind the horse.
Ford Motor Company...for giving a young man of 27 a job that would change America!
- Holly Clark is a writer and a journalist and is planning on releasing a book that will include old photos of her father and also his drawings.
- Holly is a very nice person and we'd like to thank her for being amazingly cooperative with us.
- Holly works at the Cherokee County Motorsports Park dragstrip, which happens to be where Ashley Force, daughter of the famous John Force, won her first race.