Top 10 Ford Concept Cars Ever Created
Discover the most innovative and visionary Ford concept cars in history. These are designs that pushed boundaries and inspired future vehicles.
The Ford Motor Company is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year. In 1903, the Blue Oval not only put together one of the world's best-selling and most important cars, the Model T, but they also invented the assembly line. Pretty soon, the entire industry would adopt the assembly line method, and change for the better in the process.
Over the past 120 years, we've seen some truly great Ford models, and some not so good ones, and they continue to offer a vehicle for just about any type of buyer. Unfortunately, some Fords did not see the light of day, but they remain, and are remembered by many, as some epic concept cars.
In 1996, Ford came out with the rather suave Indigo concept car. This concept was also known by the name Lynx, and it was meant to showcase Ford's IndyCar technology at that year's major motor shows all over the world. The incredible sci-fi exterior featured an open-wheel design and an open top, as well as scissor doors.
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Unfortunately, due to it being a technology showcase more than anything, the Indigo never made it to production. The dummy prototype was envisioned with a V12 engine developed in collaboration with Cosworth, with some pretty impressive power figures. The running prototype, meanwhile, used a V8.
Before the legendary Ford GT and its tribute band styling, Ford put together a very different supercar concept that, before anything else, was meant to showcase future technology that we could expect from the brand. This concept is the GT90, which made its debut in 1995.
As well as the alien, decidedly not-retro styling, the GT90 was packing a punch in terms of horsepower. Slung out in the back was a 6.0-liter V12, with a couple of turbochargers for good measure. Total output was a healthy 720 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque. These numbers are pretty standard for just about anything coming out of Italy or the UK these days, but in 1995, these numbers were truly massive. Ford also claimed the GT90 could do 253 mph. Unfortunately, it never saw the light of day, but HotCars imagined what a modernized version would look like.
Imagine if Ford came out with their own take on the Ariel Nomad back in the 2000s. That's pretty much what the EX is. First introduced at the 2001 NAIAS, it was a perfect showcase of Ford's engineers having a little fun. The EX was a proper off-road buggy, with no doors or roof, big all-terrain tires, and a full roll bar.
Power comes from a supercharged 4.0-liter V6 from the unreliable third gen Explorer family, with a pretty healthy 375 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. That power went to all four wheels through a five-speed manual transmission and permanent 4WD with a transfer case. The interior was also ready to handle all kinds of dirt and grime, and it even had drain plugs so you could hose it out, an idea that has now been adopted by the Bronco. It's really a shame that we never got to see a production off-road buggy from Ford.
The Capri is one of the best sports cars to come out of the Blue Oval, and a lot of people consider it Europe's Mustang, before the Mustang was officially available in that part of the world. While we mourn over the news that Ford is bringing back the Capri as (surprise!) an electric crossover, the Visos concept reminds us what could have been.
This gorgeous compact hatchback made its debut at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show. The exterior takes obvious inspiration from the legendary Capri, with the shape of the glasshouse and the vents mounted on the rear fender being the main points. The Visos also featured active aerodynamics, and there was also an option to download and upload different "tunes," by connecting a computer to the car and dialing in settings like damping and the rev limiter, much like Forza. To sweeten the deal further, the Visos was powered by a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine putting out 350 hp.
In the same way that we've seen dozens of Ford concept cars over the years, we've seen almost as many Ford concepts. There was the time when the Mustang almost became a FWD car, and of course, the Italian-influenced Milano and the mid-engine Mach 2 concept. However, one Mustang concept that no one seems to mention is the Mach III.
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This unique concept car first appeared in 1992, and it showed the world what they could expect from the fourth generation Ford Mustang, at least from a design perspective. The low-raked windshield and speedster body sadly didn't make production, but the influence is very noticeable. The Mustang Mach III is the Y2K aesthetic embodied into an automobile, and we love it for that. It also used a supercharged V8 with 450 hp, so that's a nice bonus.
The mid-2000s signalled the arrival of Ford's Kinetic Design era. At the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show, Ford brought along a concept car that would showcase what the world could expect of future Ford models with said Kinetic Design. That concept was the Iosis, which would eventually be the major inspiration for the fourth generation Mondeo.
In itself, the Iosis was a gorgeous sedan concept with butterfly doors, a low-slung roofline and massive chrome wheels. While the excellent Mondeo does look very similar to the Iosis, we can all admit that it didn't look anywhere near as cool. It also had a solid aluminum steering wheel, and an interior that looks like something straight out of a Cyberpunk 2077 prequel. In a good way.
As we all know, a lot of enthusiasts would much rather Ford didn't revive the Thunderbird in 2002 as a retro-styled convertible. The final generation of the iconic T-Bird was plagued with a variety of issues, from poor build quality to forgettable styling. Everyone was left wishing that Ford had just put the Fortynine concept into production instead.
Showcased at the 2001 NAIAS, the Fortynine concept was penned by Chip Foose of custom classic car fame, and it used the same 3.9-liter Jaguar V8 as the production Thunderbird. As the name implies, this car was a tribute to the 1949 Ford, rather than the Thunderbird. Still, it looked fabulous, and it was a showcase of what almost would have happened with the Thunderbird.
First debuting in 2006, the Reflex concept was a complete antidote to just about every other Ford concept car. It was designed to demonstrate that smaller cars are the future for the North American car market, and the focus should go more on smaller, more efficient cars instead of big gas guzzlers. However, as the photo demonstrates, the styling didn't have to suffer in the process.
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The story under the hood was also very different. Instead of a six-cylinder or even a V8, the Reflex used a very uncommon powertrain: a diesel-electric hybrid. It also featured backwards butterfly doors, big concept car wheels and a long hood with a short tail, combined with a fun-looking short wheelbase. While the Reflex concept never materialized, Ford did eventually start bringing their smaller cars, like the Fiesta, which recently went out of production, to North America.
So many concept cars claim to predict and/or showcase the future, but this boxy Ford concept car was actually surprisingly accurate at predicting it. Launched at the 2000 NAIAS, the 24.7 Concept actually came in three different flavors. There was the SUV version (pictured), a pick-up version, and a coupe. It was designed to cater to just about any need a customer might have.
The most accurate depiction of the future in the 24.7 Concept, other than its claim to perfectly marry the benefits of a station wagon and an SUV (sound familiar?), was the built-in technology. Ford collaborated with technology company Visteon, and they included a very advanced voice command system that could understand multiple languages and adjust vehicle settings to your preference, and a digital gauge cluster that was fully configurable, also through voice commands. Nearly 25 years ago, this was a huge deal.
There is always a concept car that makes it very clear the automaker was having some fun, allowing full creative freedom to their designers and a chance to let their hair down. That's exactly the case with the SYNus concept, which was showcased at the 2005 NAIAS. The working name was Armadillo, as the SYNus was envisioned with a tough exterior and a soft interior.
Indeed, the exterior was very tough. The design inspiration obviously comes from bank vaults, a very common inspiration source for automotive design. The windows are designed to withstand bullets, and all the bodywork is very robust. The interior featured a LAN hub and swiveling seats, which allowed you to be in your own little bubble and shut out the outside world.
Marko has been part of the HotCars team since July 2020. He started out writing for various sites on a variety of topics. He prefers weird, unusual cars to luxobarges and sports cars.Ford