Name That FoMoCo Concept: Round Four

If you fancy yourself a Ford fan, you’ve likely noticed that a handful of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury concepts are destined for the auction block in a few weeks’ time. But how well versed in the company’s show-car past are you?
We’ve picked a few of our favorite show cars from the past few decades, and zeroed in on a few distinctive details. Think you know what you’re looking at? Send us your best guess in the comments section below.

Did You ID Yesterday’s Dream Car…er, Truck?

We were more than a little surprised to find a photo of the 1964 Ford Gas Turbine Truck concept lurking within Ford’s digital media archives, but the big red beast was too good for us not to share in yesterday’s contest.

Ford had been playing with gas turbine powerplants since the early 1950s. A small, 150-hp turbine was installed in a 1954 Ford, but much like GM, the scientists within the R&D lab soon concluded the engine was best suited for trucks, buses, and heavy equipment.

Ford’s first attempt at playing with a turbine-powered truck came in 1964, when this fantastic beast was unwrapped at the New York World’s Fair. Although it was never officially named, literature referred to it as the Truck of Tomorrow, although most who saw it — even Ford officials — quickly dubbed it “Big Red” for obvious reasons. It did, after all, stand nearly thirteen feet tall.

According to period propaganda, the ToT was designed to meet the needs of transport professionals in the 1970s, and needed to keep pace with passenger cars on the ever-expanding network of superhighways. As a result, the truck needed to pull two 40-foot trailers (custom built by Fruehauf) at 70 mph for long distances.

Achieving that speed was achieved in part with some aerodynamic trickery (the cab was flush with the trailers’ roofs, and the entrance ladder was completely retractable), but we can’t slight the power offered by Ford’s Model 705 gas turbine. Engineers rated the powerplant at 600 horsepower, although its torque was what truly mattered. At engine speeds approaching stall, the turbine could throw down a whopping 1620 pound-feet of torque. The engine was mated to a five-speed automatic sourced from GM’s Allison division, which, ironically, was also charged with developing gas turbines for commercial vehicles.

Rumor has it Big Red was eventually passed off to well-connected Ford dealer Holman-Moody, although its history and whereabouts are currently unknown. The truck itself never reached mass production, although Ford did place a number of test engines in interstate coaches and semi tractors in the years to follow. The company optimistically opened a plant in Toledo, Ohio, to build gas turbines for truck, bus, and industrial uses, but ultimately closed the operations in 1973. Ironically, the gas turbine’s thirst wasn’t a match for the rising oil prices of the 1970s.


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