Could Ford have been the first carmaker (okay, truck maker) to mass produce gas turbines for the road? – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings
The Seventies were supposed to be the decade for gas turbines – touted for decades as the engines of the future – to finally take to the roads en masse. And while each of the Big Three had its own gas-turbine programs, industry observers expected Ford to become the first to market such an engine. Yet, as it turned out, the dawn of the Seventies proved the end of Ford’s gas-turbine ambitions entirely.
As noted previously here, Ford’s turbine program dated back to the early to mid-1950s, a time of grand conjecture of the future of transportation. Ford’s concept cars “featured” gas turbines, even if the concepts never actually had one installed, and Ford designers smitten with the idea (or trying to impress managers who were smitten with the idea) worked mentions of turbines into their renderings and clay models. Ford even toyed with a turbine-powered tractor and a Thunderbird or two.
Ford’s primary interest in turbines, however, focused on using them to power semi trucks. As noted in a May 1967 Car Life survey of the state of automotive turbine technology, each of the Big Three had varying ideas about the best application for turbines. Chrysler engineers preferred that the engines power passenger cars. GM believed turbines made the most sense in transcontinental coaches and construction equipment. Ford, “which in many respects appears the most advanced in the field, has consistently worked toward development of turbine power for long cross-country heavy-duty highway trucks.”