Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ford Motor Company Full-Size Show Cars 1961-64
by David W. Temple
The 1961 Mercury Palomar ( named after Mt. Palomar where the largest telescope in the world at the time was located) was Ford Motor Company's first station wagon concept car. The silver-blue fiberglass prototype had a some very atypical features; it was a four-door hardtop on the driver's side only with "suicide" type doors, had a so-called flying bridge third passenger seat inspired by boats, and a sliding roof section. This design was proposed as a possible 1966 Mercury, but unfortunately the design got no further than this singular concept car. In fact, it was never seriously considered for production. The Palomar was on display inside Ford's Rotunda building for some months and is believed to have been destroyed when a fire engulfed the building on November 9, 1962.

The Palomar was shown at the Chicago Auto Show where this photo was likely taken.

In 1963 model car manufacturer AMT, customizer George Barris, and Ford Motor Company joined to produce several custom cars to be shown around the country. Ford executives believed this program which came to be known as the “Custom Car Caravan” would bring even more attention to the company’s cars. Others soon joined the effort – Bill Cushenberry, Gene Winfield, as well as Vince Gardener of Dearborn Steel Tubing. Four Ford customs were built for 1963 and 1964 – two of which were based on Galaxie 500s. The 1963 Astro featured a landau half-top covered with white vinyl. A filler panel could be put in place to create a full hardtop or the entire top could be removed to have a convertible. Stacked Lucas headlights set within round pods and a blacked-out grille with a horizontal divider dramatically altered the look of the frontal view. The looping side molding was deleted, rear wheel wells were radiused, and a custom rocker panel molding was applied. Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels were reportedly installed at one time, but in the photo above the Astro is clearly not equipped with them. In back, tunneled taillights similar in style to the frontal lighting replaced the stock units. The body was first painted Aqua Pearl with shading applied to the sheet metal creases, but later it was repainted Sea Blue Metallic. This custom’s interior with four bucket seats was upholstered in white Naugahyde. (Click here for another view of the Astro...

The Alexander Brothers created the Alexa; it was built from a 427-powered Galaxie 500/XL. Custom features of the Alexa included an extended front end with rectangular headlights mounted behind frosted glass and a custom-built grille. The extended rear end was rounded with no rear bumper. A rich, candy red paint was applied to the body. Inside were four bucket seats and a full-length console upholstered in pleated white Naugahyde.

1 comment:

  1. Too bad the Ford Motor Company never got to bring to the market their 1961 Mercury Palomar. Looks like a beautiful car and a luxurious one. I even think that the cars they came up with later are less great looking than the Mercury Paloma. But all the same, the others are also beautiful technically and outward. But i hope they will some day revive the Mercury Paloma.