15 Secret Projects Ford Worked On…And Then Abandoned

The Ford Motor Company is one of the largest companies in the world, having transformed from the pipedreams of a repeatedly failing businessman named Henry Ford into the multinational conglomerate that it is today. So ubiquitous is Ford that many people even mistakenly believe that Henry Ford invented the automobile, though that honor goes to Karl Benz of Germany.

Ford brought the automobile to the masses by using assembly line manufacturing techniques that brought down costs and increased production figures. In more than a century since the first Model A left the factory in 1903, Ford has tried to continually advance the automotive industry. The company's efforts have resulted in plenty of successes but keep scrolling for 15 of Ford's secret projects that were eventually abandoned.

15 X-8 Engine

via The Automobile and American Life

The X-8 engine is exactly what it sounds like. Rather than cylinders in a line or offset in a V shape, the X-8 had four banks of two cylinders each in the shape of an X. Henry Ford thought the design could prove incredibly powerful but as cool as it looked and may have seemed, he had to ditch the concept—though it remains a part of automotive history.

14 Detroit Automobile Company

via Just A Car Guy

The Detroit Automobile Company was the first car company founded in Detroit and Henry Ford would rather its entire existence was kept a secret. He pulled in the equivalent of over $2 million in today's dollars but only twenty vehicles, losing all the money. Though he would go on to turn his eponymous company into a century-old success, there were hiccups along the way.

13 Piquette Project

via Torc Robotics

The Model T transformed not just the automotive industry but the entire future of the human race. Assembly line production made cheaper cars buildable, which allowed the middle class to get in on the fun. These days, every automaker would love to revolutionize their industry again, and Ford's attempt is known as the Piquette Project, a secret plan to use biodegradable and recyclables to build cars.

12 Henry Ford Company

via Wikipedia

After the Detroit Automobile Company, Henry Ford started the Henry Ford Company—but this little-known startup wouldn't become the Ford we know and love today. Instead, he would end up leaving and there's a good chance Henry Ford himself wouldn't want anyone to know that the company that once bore his name would eventually turn into Cadillac.

11 Project Silver

via Ford NXT

The Ford GT, from its earliest incarnations to the modern example, has always been a stunning supercar that's pushed the envelope in every direction. But the most modern version actually owes its existence to a shadowy Project Silver, which was an attempt to build a purebred racer based on the S550 Mustang for the GTE PRO class.

10 Soy-Based Polymers

via Successful Farming

One secret project that Ford has almost certainly abandoned is another attempt at biodegradable and recyclable automobile construction. In this case, Ford wanted to use the ubiquitous soy plant to build polymers, a category of molecular structure of which plastic is the most famous. But Ford certainly wouldn't want the press to know they realize the effect their products are having on the planet.

9 Everest Web Purchasing Project

via The Blockchain Land

In the early-2000s, Ford was farsighted enough to see that computers and the internet were going to revolutionize the world. The company teamed up with Oracle in an attempt to be an early company to adopt computerized procurement and purchasing systems that would do away with paper and increasing speed and efficiency. By 2004, the massive project had failed.

8 Waste Carbon-Dioxide Foam

via Wfpl

Even if prominent political figures and members of government refuse to acknowledge the science behind global warming, a company with far-reaching scope like Ford has to take science into account when formulating strategies for future growth. One attempt that Ford made to help the environment was to use waste carbon-dioxide foam while building their cars.

7 Ford-Shelby GR-1 Concept

via Motor1

The sleek silver coupe above may look more like a Naboo spacecraft from Stars Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace, but it's actually a concept car that Ford built while trying to get a new Shelby Mustang to the market. Known as the Ford-Shelby GR-1, it almost doesn't resemble the current Mustang at all.

6 Ford Tuareg

via Car Magazine

In the automotive world these days, the Touareg is a Volkswagen SUV that shares its platform with the Audi Q5 and the Porsche Cayenne. But many years ago, Ford created a Tuareg (with slightly different spelling) based on the entry-level Fiesta. Whether it could have ever become a legit rally car like the one pictured above is dubious, though.

5 Paternalism

via NPR

Paternalism was a concept that Henry Ford introduced to the corporate world in an attempt to keep his company running smoothly. And although it sounds great, the bottom line is that he did it to bolster his bottom line. These days, employees may expect to receive a little support from their employers, but even Ford has abandoned the paternalism experiment.

4 Sociological Department Investigators

via Factinate

One way that Henry Ford tried to keep his company running smoothly and efficiently was by hiring investigators for his Sociological Department. Essentially a secret police force that made sure employees were following all of Ford's strict rules, including moral requirements, the investigators would report on anything that seemed fishy.

3 Employees Had to Have Children To Buy Car

via PBS

Part of the paternalism project was designed to keep Ford employees on the straight and narrow, sticking to the tenets that Henry Ford believed made a man a good man. The practice went so far that Ford employees who wanted to buy a Ford car would have to prove that they were married, had children, and that all their debts were paid.

2 Fordlandia

via Wikipedia

One massive project that Ford built in semi-secrecy but then abandoned is the complex known as Fordlandia. The purpose of Fordlandia was multifold, somewhere between a tax haven, a commune, and an economized industrial city. But the craziest part is the Ford wanted to build this idealized city in the heart of Brazil!

1 Villa de Reyes Factory

via St. Luis Post-Dispatch

Every company has its times of expansion and contraction, so businesspeople have to scan their future plans with an eye for the economy's wellbeing and potential changes to the political climate. Ford ran into a serious roadblock and had to abandon the building of a massive factory in Villa de Reyes, Mexico. Perhaps they should have visited a fortune teller rather than listening to their consultants.

Sources: Huffpost, ADT Mag, and Wikipedia.

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