Friday, 9 April 2010

Mercury D-528

The D-528 was a Ford design study in the mid-fifties, so named as it was the company's 528th design project. Badged as a Mercury, Ford's entry-level brand in the US, it differed from other concept cars in that it was never intended to be put on show; its function was to test innovative design ideas to see what could feasibly work on future models.

Amongst its development prototypes were a semi-pillarless roof (which infuriated the engineers by constantly cracking the windscreen or popping it out altogether when the car was moved, leading them to install regular A-pillars), electrically-operated lift-up panels in the roof to allow easier access to the cabin and a reverse-rake wind-down rear window. The tail fins, which eschewed the contemporary fashion of jutting pointedly and spaceship-like by being rounded and bulbous, were ingeniously functional - one housed the spare wheel, while the fuel tank resided in the other. This was to maximise load space in the boot, as aircon condensors of the time were enormous, and Ford correctly anticipated aircon becoming a must-have for American consumers. (Although they didn't anticipate the condensors shrinking quite so much that they could be accommodated under the bonnet!)
The roof pillars at the rear were hollow, and allowed cool air to travel from the rear-mounted aircon system into the cabin, dissipating via holes in the headlining.

One of the D-528's more unusual features was the construct of the chassis at the front end: the design study pre-empted a broad growth in safety concerns by experimenting with advanced crash absorption structures - the concept, described as 'not particularly attractive' by its chief engineer, Gil Spear, was more about function than form. The fact that its fibreglass body is a thing of beauty is merely a by-product.

You can learn more about this unique car's history here.

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