Vale Brian Inglis
Brian Inglis, a fighter pilot in World War II before heading Ford Australia, has died at the age of 90. Inglis was the first Australian to take the top job at Broadmeadows and his time at Ford Australia from 1970 to 1981 was one of the golden eras for the company in terms of taking ground off market leader GM-H. Working alongside livewire sales chief, Max Gransden, Inglis helped take the company to the top.
One of his less conventional roles was to mentor Edsel Ford II, son of Henry II, during his time as deputy managing director.
Brian Inglis was born in Adelaide, but became a Geelong boy when his father, Scott, joined Ford. His brother Malcolm was also a senior executive at the company.
He studied at Geelong Grammar school before enlisting with the RAAF in 1941 and flying Spitfires in Europe, returning to Melbourne University before joining Ford as a graduate trainee. He became director of industrial engineering and led preparations for the first locally-made Falcon, before rising to managing director’s role when he was in his mid-forties.
He became Sir Brian when he was knighted for services to industry in 1977, an honour that was followed by a companion of the Order of Australia in 1998.
He left Ford Australia in 1981 but continued his working career as vicepresident of Ford Asia-Pacific, and in retirement he assisted a range of companies including Optus Communications, as well as being awarded an honorary law doctorate from Monash University.
Not all ‘blue bloods’ remember his time at the helm fondly, as it was on Inglis’s watch that Ford killed off the legendary Falcon GT and moved away from the motor racing-based performance initiatives established by his predecessor Bill Bourke.