A new sign to identify Ford dealerships is being tested at a store down the street from Ford Motor Co. headquarters in Dearborn, MI.

By 2003, Ford Division hopes signs just like it will be completely installed at its 4,200 dealerships across the nation.

The first, at Village Ford, is undergoing tests for durability and readability.

The sign features the familiar blue Ford oval atop a pedestal.

"The blue Ford oval is the second most recognizable icon in the world," says Ford Division President James O'Connor.

Ironically, word is that the blue oval may be eliminated from the Ford world headquarters.

Ford has no official comment on that. However one of several clues is that the company's 1999 Christmas card featured a drawing of the headquarters building - minus the blue oval that's there now in reality.

Ford will roll out the new dealership sign program at a dealer meeting in Las Vegas next month. The Ford Dealership Council has endorsed the new sign.