When you’ve been manufacturing vehicles for more than 100 years, you’re bound to create a few memorable concept cars.
Like all other automakers worldwide, Ford has used concept cars to preview future technology or gauge interest on a particular design ethos. Other concept cars have been created to give a glimpse at a future model, using the public and media’s reception to make changes prior to heading to production.
And then there are concept cars that never see the light of day and Ford has also had plenty of those. But here are the top 5 most memorable Ford concepts from its rich history.
Debuting at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show, the Ford Airstream Concept was designed to show off a futuristic crossover model that was inspired by the classic Airstream recreational vehicle trailers that have been manufactured since the 1930s. With the Airstream Concept, the American automaker also used it as an opportunity to preview a plug-in hybrid hydrogen fuel-cell system that it called HySeries Drive.
Nearly 10 years later, Ford still doesn’t have a hydrogen fuel cell car on the market, but certain elements of the Airstream have lived on to production models. The Ford Flex, for example, was introduced as a 2009 model year car and carries a similar overall boxy shape like the Airstream Concept.
Mighty Tonka Concept
Ford wanted to get bold for the 2002 Detroit Auto Show, and it did so in a big way. Many of us can remember growing up playing with Tonka trucks that had an iconic yellow finish, and Ford played off that with its Mighty F-350 Tonka Concept, a vibrant yellow and chrome pickup sporting an advanced (at the time) new powertrain.
Previewing what would come in terms of Heavy Duty pickup truck offerings from Ford, the Mighty Tonka featured styling and design elements still found in today’s Ford trucks. To put things into perspective, the Mighty Tonka Concept marked the debut of using LEDs in headlights, which has become extremely common in today’s automobiles.
Giugiaro Mustang Concept
It wasn’t that long ago that the Ford Mustang wasn’t sold worldwide, so you might be surprised to hear that at the 2006 L.A. Auto Show, Italian design firm Giugiaro had penned its own version of the American pony car. Designed by Italdesign Giugiaro under Fabrizio Giugiaro, Giorgetto Giugiaro’s son, the concept was a European-inspired interpretation of the 2005 model year Mustang.
The Ford Giugiaro Mustang Concept may not have come straight from the American automaker itself, but the Italian design firm did work closely with Ford to make it a reality. In fact, it all began in early 2005 when Giugiaro pitched the idea to J Mays, then Ford Motor Company’s group vice president of design and chief creative officer.
Many think the Ford GT90 Concept was one of the best concept cars ever created. It was first unveiled at the 1995 Detroit Auto Show with Ford boasting that it was “the world’s mightiest supercar.” It was a mid-engine concept meant to be a spiritual successor to the Ford GT40 and actually shared components with the Jaguar XJ220, since at the time, Jaguar was owned by Ford.
Powering the GT90 concept was a 6.0-liter V12 engine with up to 720 horsepower thanks to a quad-turbo setup from Garrett. Unlike other concept cars that sometimes fade into obscurity, the Ford GT90 continued to show up in modern video games many years later. It’s a shame it never headed to production.
You just can’t have a list of memorable Ford concepts without making mention of what is arguably Ford’s best concept in recent years, if not its storied history altogether. The new Ford GT is absolutely stunning from bumper to bumper, with styling that rivals some of Italy’s best supercars. In fact, Ford did a marketing gimmick and dropped the Ford GT Concept in London and asked passers-by what kind of car they thought it was. Many of them thought it was a McLaren or Lamborghini.
It’s also more notable because it’s actually heading to production and it’s sporting a hefty price tag with plenty of exclusivity to go along with it. The American automaker intends to produce only 250 units per year and it’s actually having prospective owners fill out an application, so not just anyone can have one. The best thing about the concept is that the production version looks just like it.
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