DOUG SPARKS: DELIVERING ON FORD'S COMMITMENT TO ADVANCED POWERTRAINS
Doug Sparks, North American Powertrain Integration Manager
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- Doug Sparks, Ford North American powertrain integration manager, brings together the engine, transmission, driveline and other powertrain components to create a powertrain package that meets the needs of Ford and its customers
- Sparks is an instrumental member of the team responsible for the new all-aluminum TiVCT V-6 and six-speed transmissions powering the exciting new 2011 Mustang
- A car guy to the core, Sparks still owns his first Mustang, purchased on his first day with Ford in 1990
When questions regarding motive force arise for any of Ford’s North American cars, including the iconic Mustang, the company looks to 19-year powertrain veteran Doug Sparks to help put the pieces together.
Sparks is Ford’s powertrain integration manager for North American vehicles. He oversees decisions about engines, transmissions and drivelines and helps define how all those disparate elements should come together to provide the performance owners expect along with the fuel economy today’s buyers demand.
“The key part – and best part – of my job is bringing all the different powertrain components together to create the ideal ‘total powertrain’ package for our vehicles and customers. I truly enjoy being part of the process that determines what the powertrain content will be for our vehicles and then delivering it to our customers.”
An enthusiast since day one
Sparks has been passionate about cars since his earliest days as a child in Grand Rapids, Mich., and he gravitated toward the mechanical aspects from the very beginning.
“As early as I can remember, I’ve had a passion for cars,” said Sparks. “My parents tell me ‘car’ was my first word. I have always been fascinated by engines and transmissions and knew from a very young age that I wanted to be an automotive engineer.”
Sparks attended the University of Detroit where he received a degree in mechanical engineering, followed by an MBA. He joined Ford in 1990 as a manufacturing engineer with the company’s transmission division. He credits his first assignment with giving him a unique perspective that’s helped with subsequent engineering projects.
“Starting my Ford career in manufacturing was a great experience for me,” said Sparks. “Having manufacturing experience helped me during the design and release phase of my career, where it was a real advantage knowing firsthand how the components would be machined and assembled.”
Staying true to his calling
Though the competing pressures of life preclude hard-core involvement in his favorite automotive hobbies, Sparks still relishes the opportunity to break away from his daily meetings to check out the latest projects in Ford’s experimental garage and advanced engineering center. He finds that maintaining an active interest in racing also benefits his professional life.
“I love working on cars and racing, even though I do not have the time to do it anymore,” he said. “I really enjoy keeping up on the technology developments in racing because it always leads to better products for our customers.”
As for his personal car, Sparks has a soft spot for the Mustang – and a parking spot for one particularly special Mustang in his garage.
“I purchased my first Mustang on the day I joined Ford in 1990. I still love the look of the Fox-platform Mustangs. Mine is a 5.0-liter LX that in its prime was used as an autocross and open-track car. I still have that Mustang, and plan to give it new life with my boys and take it to the track again.”
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
- Doug Sparks has been married to Margaret for 18 years. They have three boys, Patrick, 13; Shane, 10; and Kyle, 7
- Sparks is an avid boater and particularly enjoys waterskiing
- Sparks’ favorite Ford vehicle is the Shelby Cobra 427
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 200,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.