The concept Ford Contour, which was presented at the 1991 Detroit Auto Show, vice president of Ford Design Studio Jay Mays described as one of the most significant and important for the company (even though the car was developed during the time of his predecessor, Jack Telnak). The car offered many original solutions that challenged traditional thinking, both in terms of design and engineering.
And it’s hard to argue with this – the originality of solutions can be seen in every millimeter. For example, the body, created from aluminum modules, which are joined chemically (innovative technology belongs to Ford and Reynolds Aluminum, this solution is patented). No less curious are the body panels, which form complex structures of polyurethane and plastic with a metal base. For this reason, the concept is called Contour – it looks like a design sketch without a single flat panel.
The sofas in the car interior play the role of the body’s stiffening element, so they are fixed firmly. The pedal assembly, dashboard and steering column are adjustable to make it comfortable for the driver of any height and build. But the most interesting things, as it often happens, are hidden from prying eyes.
The highlight of the Contour is an inline eight-cylinder engine, which is located under the hood transversely (the last time a similar engine was installed on the Pontiac in 1954). The gearbox is on the side of the cylinder block and the power take-off is through a mechanism near the center of the crankshaft, so the scheme invented by Donald Carir was called T-Drive (the installation resembles the letter T from above). The car is front-wheel drive, but, in theory, it can be made four-wheel drive.
The number of belts under the hood is reduced to a minimum. Except for wheels the engine by and large powers only a huge generator and it provides energy for work of all other systems. Even the cooling system pump is powered by electricity.
The Contour’s suspension is independent, and there is a transversal leaf spring in the rear. Elements of the front suspension, in turn, are located as high as possible in the high temperature zone. Such decision is caused by the necessity to place the engine as low as possible, so the wheel rims could chase away hot air from it. Yes, it is difficult to believe it, but the important role of cooling is entrusted precisely to the wheels – such a step allowed to reduce the radiator grille and, consequently, the disturbance of air flows.
For the maximum comfort of passengers, the doors have no central pillar (though they open traditionally – in fact it is a hardtop). However, all joys of Contour are mostly fiction. The concept car is not a running model. Yes, doors and a hood open, steering wheel works, and the interior is covered with high-quality leather. However, it is impossible to run the lauded T-Drive on the concept car. Plus, the tires are made of plastic.
In 2007, the car was auctioned off in Monterey by RM Sotheby’s. The minimum price was not fixed, but it was assumed that the concept will go for 80-100 thousand dollars. What was the general surprise, when the car was sold for …. Thirty-three thousand dollars. Nobody knows exactly where the Contour Concept is now. It is quite possible that the owner has “taught” it to drive, but it is only an assumption.