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Ford Built a Crib, But Here are Some Cooler Blue Oval Inventions

[Inmage: Ford Motor Company]

By now, you’ve probably read that Ford Motor Company has developed a crib that mimics a late-night car ride. You know, those journeys to nowhere fueled by nothing other than a desperate desire to shut your kid up for a few hours?

Yes, with Ford’s prototype crib, your bundle of joy will be rocked and jostled to sleep while you grab some much-needed shuteye. Your car never needs to leave the garage. Had my parents owned such a thing, it would have curtailed many nocturnal forays in a Lean Burn-equipped Plymouth Volaré that stalled when it reached a stop sign — at least, until the engine temperature rose.

There’s no need for compromised Slant Six engines when Mark Fields is doing the babysitting. You see, Ford’s Max Motor Dreams cot will record the vehicle movements and sounds of your go-to driving route and reproduce them in the comfort of your home. The company even claims that the German-designed cot might see production.

That’s great, but a crib isn’t a vehicle.

So, in light of this static, motorized cot (why didn’t Ford shape it like a Fox-body Mustang?), here are some neat Blue Oval products from yesteryear: one of which will kill you, another that killed one of its two operators, and a final product that could kill your entire neighborhood.


Ford 3-Ton M1918

Following the United States’ 1917 entry into the mud and trenches of World War One, American forces needed a small, nimble tank to break through German lines. The powers that be in Washington quickly got Henry Ford on the line. Build us something, and quick, they said.

Ford’s answer was a two-man tank (tankette, really) powered by two Model T engines. While 45 horsepower in a three-ton vehicle doesn’t sound like the makings of an exhilarating ride, speed was not a big consideration in the grim stalemate of WWI. The M1918 could do 8 miles per hour and possessed a range of 34 miles.

More important than power was the vehicle’s armor and .30-06 machine gun. Though 15,000 were ordered, the subsequent Armistice meant that only 15 of these all-terrain, war-utility vehicles ever rolled off the line.


Ford Flivver

Hailed by Henry Ford as the “Model T of the air,” the company’s attempt to build a one-seat aircraft for the working man met a sudden and violent end.

Produced in 1927, the Flivver was built at the request of Mr. Ford himself. Ol’ Henry wanted it to be small enough to fit in his office and, presumably, cheap enough for middle class men to add to their list of recreational toys. While the Stout Metal Airplane Division of the Ford Motor Company had enjoyed instant success with its three-engined Trimotor airliner, top brass were not impressed by this collection of steel tubing, wood and fabric.

At Ford’s urging, development went ahead.

The company patriarch convinced Charles Lindbergh to take one of the three prototypes for a spin in 1927, and he reportedly hated the thing. Not dissuaded by that thumbs-down review, Ford, with the help of test pilot Harry Brooks, attempted to set a PR-friendly long-distance record for light aircraft.

Brooks, a friend of Ford, went down in the Ford Flivver off the coast of Melbourne, Florida on February 25, 1928, after suffering engine failure. His body was never found, and Ford scrapped the concept of an everyman’s airplane.


1958 Ford Nucleon

Man, the 1950s must have been a gas, gas, gas. Technological advancements aimed at making postwar American life even easier seemed to burst from the country’s scientific and manufacturing sectors like dandelions.

Compression ratios  — and displacements — were on the rise in Detroit, but Ford was thinking about a new type of engine. One that was inspired by a new form of power plant, powered by the same fuel found in Little Boy. Uranium!

Yes, the Ford Nucleon, which appeared only as a scale prototype, was Ford’s vision of a future in which everyone’s car was powered by a small nuclear reactor stored behind the passenger compartment. You’ll never have to buy gas again! (You will, however, have to dispose of that radioactive fuel every 5,000 miles.) The company envisioned the powerplant creating torque-producing steam in the same manner as a boiling water reactor.

Just imagine your car’s engine melting through the pavement on its way to China after suffering a water pump failure. Naturally, this concept went nowhere, saving the country from having herds of Chernobyls and Fukushimas coasting through rush hour traffic.

[Images: Ford Motor Company; Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0)]

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