FORD DREAM CARS HISTORY
review on Ford
Perhaps it was Henry Ford's prosaic image as a provider
of popular ears that delayed Ford's entry into the dream-car arena. Whatever
the reason, Ford lagged behind Chrysler and General Motors in the razzmatazz
world of futuristic ideas.
Ford's first dream car
Probably the first true Ford dream car was theX-100 of 1953, which anticipated
the torpedo styling themes of later Fords like the 1961 Thunderbird. Another
indication of lord's new directions from the same year was the Mexico
— only a scale model, but the result of wind-tunnel testing and
an important pointer to future trends. Ford claimed 50 engineering firsts
for this car, including a moisture-sensitive cell on the roof, which automatically
closed the plastic sliding roof panel.
More extreme was the 1956 Mystere, at once the most amazing and most
repulsive of dream cars. Its excessive chrome work, double headlamps and
heavy body accents appeared in production Fords in years to come, but
mercifully tile lifting bubble canopy, swinging steering wheel and gas
turbine power did not.
One of the most famous of all 1950s dream cars was the Lincoln Futura
of 1955, if only because it was later modified to become the Bat mobile
in the popular TV series of the 60s. When the double-bubble canopy housed
the caped crusaders, its kicked-up tail fins evoked just the right bat-like
Ford suffers hangover
Ford worked its way through many contorted schools of styling such as
the Z-back roof (in the 1957 La Galaxie). It went on to become increasingly
unhinged as it proposed a nuclear- powered dream car called the Nucleon
in 1958, a gyroscopically controlled two-wheeled car called the Gyron
in 1961, a three-wheeled flying car called the Volante the same --ear
and a vast six- wheeler called the Seattle-ite in 1962.
It should not be surprising that, after that lot. Ford's design team and
the pubic had something of a dream-car hangover, and Dearborn's output
of show specials petered out in the 1960s.
It took Ford's purchase of the Italian Ghia styling house to kick-start
its dream-car programmed again in the 1970s, Cilia's creations for Ford
(such as the Coins, Megasiar and Action) are described in the pages devoted
to Ghia. Ford's domestic US styling studios took longer to return to the
Meanwhile, Ford's European subsidiary started a trend of
creating show cars that anticipated future production models with the
Probe III in1981. It was all but identical to die Ford Sierra, only the
aerodynamic appendages being really different.
Probe and Splash
Future Ford Probe show cars were far more adventurous. The 1983 Probe
IV was an amazingly aerodynamic yet practical hatchback. Its Cd figure
of 0.15 was spectacular, achieved by wheels covered by urethane "membranes",
meticulous airflow management and a spoiler at the base of the windscreen.
The ultimate Probe V of a few years later extended the aerodynamic theme
Uniting sports car and pick-up truck themes was the purpose of the 1988
Splash. Looking like a space-age beach buggy, tins sinking two-seater
had removable windows, root and rear hatch. Its four-wheel drive, adjustable
rides eight and retractable mud flaps boosted its chunky off-road flavor
and the colorful weatherproof interior looked trendy enough for its intended
The Contour, shown at the 1991 Detroit Show, was revolutionary in so many
respects. Its engine was the first straight-eight since Pontiac's in 1954
and was mounted transversely to save space. The shape of the car was dramatic
with steeply raked screens and a long cabin dominating. It was mounted
on an aluminum chassis entirely bonded together. The headlamps were 1
in- (2.5cm-) high arc discharge rods and there were two floating rear
To describe its fresh way of thinking in design terms, Ford coined the
term "edge design". Before production cars like the Ka and Puma
took to the streets, Ford displayed numerous concept cars at motor shows
around the world, which dramatically demonstrated its new philosophy,
Edge design burst on to the scene with the revolutionary GT90 in 1995.
The name hinted at the inspiration for the car, Ford's highly successful
GT40 road/race car of the 1960s. In format, there were similarities: this
was a very low, mid- engine two-seater with fantastic performance potential,
but in truth the cars were very divergent.
The GT90 resembled a Stealth bomber in the way that its
triangular flat surfaces intersected one another. Under the skin, its
technology was bang up-to- date racing-car: a honeycomb aluminum chassis,
carbon fiber body and space-shuttle-type ceramic exhaust. Powered by a
quad-turbo 720blip V- twelve engine, it was intended to be launched in
a limited series of 100 cars, but the plan never materialized. Much more
significant was the GT90's effect on the future of Ford design.
It was not just the name of the IndiGo that was clever (playing on its
association with IndyCar racing). Tins were no mere show car but a concept
designed from the outset to lie feasibly manufactured at some point. Even
though most people who worked in the trade accepted that tills were too
radical to be offered for sale, it was a drivable car.
Ford said that the IndiGo "captures the essence of the race-track
and transforms it into a realistic design for the street". The styling
was strongly race car in feel, from the bespoilered, narrow nose to the
blacked-out wings, while its construction (carbonfibre, aluminum and glassfibre)
also mimicked competition use.
A 441bhp 6.0-litre V-twelve engine -formed by mating two V-six units together
— was estimated to give a top speed of 170mph (273kph) and a 0-60mpll
(0-96kph) time of under four seconds. The six-speed sequential gearbox
was derived from race cars, and changes were made by pressing buttons
on the steering wheel. Even the instrument panel on the dashboard was
Formula 1 inspired.
Lincoln, meanwhile, forged ahead with its own L2K concept (in 1995), a
possible future competition for the Mercedes-Benz SLK. Its blade-like
shape (created by an affiliated design house called Concept Car Company)
hid a 250 bhp 3.4 liter V-eight engine. The following year came the Sentinel,
a startling expression of Ford’s edge design ethos: a high waistline,
wonderfully sculpted lighting, ultra-clean, flat shapes and elegant proportions.
It was a huge car, but felt right, and was even made into a runner on
a lengthened Jaguar platform.
The Synergy 2010 was Ford's idea of in 1996. As such, it featured two
power sources — a 1.0-litre direct-injection extremely lightweight
materials (it weighed just one tonne (ton)), "air fences", which
dictated the car's advanced, aerodynamic styling and computer-animated
instruments. You could even call up the phone book by issuing a simple
Just as the Ghia Saetta broke die path for the radical new Ka, so the
1996 Lynx forthcoming Fiesta based Puma coupe. One element that was lost
in production also formed tile side window frames and guides for a fold-away
Mercury's 1997 MC4 extended edge design to a mid-market four-seater, ft
rear doors and a gullwing boot (trunk). More exciting still was the MC2
concept car shown at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show, in essence a new Ford
Cougar lean profile.