It was in the 50s and the world was obsessed with it Nuclear energy. This technology was intended to replace oil and coal in various fields. One of them was mobility, and since Ford didn’t want to be left behind, it brought it to the world Ford Nucleon.
Can you imagine driving a nuclear reactor behind your back? Now it may seem like a crazy idea, but when atomic energy was in its infancy it moved around the city with a uranium fission reaction.
The official presentation of the Ford Nucleon took place in 1957, almost towards the end of the atomic age. It was one of the highest expressions of nuclear optimism of those years. It was presented as a completely silent vehicle can drive almost 8,000 kilometers before the reactor had to be replaced.
Interestingly, he envisioned a future beyond oil, in nuclear energy it would be safe and clean enough to reach the crowds. Since vehicles no longer have to refuel, gas stations would become full reactor exchange centers, according to Ford.
Ford Nucleon, the atomic age at its finest
A member of the Ford design team puts the finishing touches to the Nucleon model
In the 1950s, the Ford Motor Company design studio was headed by George Walker. This man was known for motivating his team to come up with futuristic concepts. So it was the designer Jim Powers, inspired by the rise of nuclear energy, let his imagination run wild.
The design of the Ford Nucleon was based on the idea that one day Nuclear reactors would be so small that they could be in a car. The oval model would have a radioactive core at the back.
However, the details of the Ford Nucleon powertrain are unclear. It is supposed that, Fissioning uranium would generate the heat necessary to convert the water into steam and move a number of turbines. One would provide the torque while the other would drive an electrical generator. The steam would then be condensed back into water in a cooling circuit and sent back to the steam generator for reuse.
We cannot deny that the vehicle lines appear to have originated on another planet. The driver’s cab was as far away from the “nuclear trunk” as possible.. The windshield and the rear window were characterized by their enormous size. One of the more advanced designs features distinctive fins on the rear, a feature of the aerospace industry that was very popular on cars of the time.
A dream that never went beyond a model
Unfortunately – or fortunately – the Ford Nucleon was never more than a concept. Nuclear reactors were never small enough to be mounted on a vehicle. Armor systems are also not light enough to protect the DNA of the driver and his passengers from radioactive isotopes.
For better or for worse, because that dream did not come true, we no longer have to worry today that thousands – or millions – of cars are driving at “nuclear speed” on freeways and motorways. The 3/8 scale model, which gave a glimpse into a future with nuclear power at its core, is on view at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.