MotorCities National Heritage Area
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By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection, Robert Tate's Collection and Bill Cook's Collection 
Published 09.26.2018

1968 Ford Techna 1 National Automotive History Collection RESIZED

1968 Ford Techna Concept Vehicle (National Automotive History Collection)

 

Throughout its history, the Ford Motor Company design studios have always introduced great looking concept cars to the public. The prototype models were often on display during the most exciting events, like Auto Shows or new car announcements.

 

1968 Ford Techna concept 2 National Automotive History Collection RESIZED1968 Ford Techna Concept rear view (National Automotive History Collection)

 

One of my favorite concept models from the Ford Motor Company archives was the early design of the 1962 Mustang I. Although not shown, it was a great looking design concept that led the way for future Mustang production models for many years.

This is a story about a concept that you rarely hear about or see images of when it comes to Ford’s historic designs. The 1968 Ford Techna was a great looking concept model, offering many great engineering innovations and advanced body features. The concept was designed for Ford's engineering vice-president Harold C. McDonald, who is standing next to the car in the image below.

 

1968 Ford Techna concept 02 Tate Collection1968 Ford Techna with Harold C. McDonald (Robert Tate Collection) 

Some automotive historians have said that the 1968 Techna could be the first vehicle to describe the term “concept” published by an American automaker. A technical report paper for the SAE, the Society of Automotive Engineers also included the terms “Dream Car” or “Idea Car.” The Techna concept was created and designed to explore new approaches in engineering, including the areas of vehicle packaging and body construction. Ford Motor Company said, “The Techna is a functional engineering experimental car of the future, unveiled by Ford Motor Company. It features new ideals in safety, body and technology.”

 

1968 Ford Techna by Ghia 04 Tate Collection
1968 Ford Techna (Robert Tate Collection)

 

The model featured a revolutionary power-operated parallel-hinged door design which could open straight out from the body. Instead of lifting the entire hood when maintenance was needed, the consumer could lift the newly designed inspection hatch located on the hood to check the oil, coolant, transmission fluid or power steering. The entire front end-hood and fender design was all one unit. At the time, many consumers enjoyed the concept car’s styling, and the Techna became a big hit at the Detroit Auto Show.

 

1968 Ford Techna at Cobo Hall Detroit Auto Show Robert Tate Collection RESIZED1968 Ford Techna at the 1969 Detroit Auto Show at Cobo Hall (Bill Cook Photo)

 

Ford's Techna was a fully running concept vehicle used for the company's engineering and testing process. During the late 1960s, Ford engineers drove the model around the Dearborn area, testing it’s many new and innovative gadgets. The Techna offered an energy-absorbing plastic rear bumper along with a great looking hidden headlamp design which many consumers admired.  The front and rear suspension design was based on Ford's production Galaxie models.

Another feature that the Techna concept model offered was the design of the brake and turn signal lamps, which were located in the rear window area, almost like today's automobile designs that have this feature on the vehicle's rear end. 

 

Autolite Ford Techna magazine ad RESIZEDFord Autolite Techna magazine ad (Robert Tate Collection)

 

In conclusion, the Ford Techna concept model was featured in the August 1968 issue of Car Life magazine, and readers were invited to give their opinion on both the overall design and the advanced body features. Later, the model would be used in Ford's Autolite shock absorbers advertising campaign, featuring “When Ford built this car of tomorrow." Today, the model is a part of Ford's concept car history that will always be admired by automotive historians.

 

Bibliography

Janicki, Edward. “Cars Detroit Never Built 50 Years of American Experimental Cars.” Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., 1995.

Davis, Michael W.R. “Mustang and the Pony Car Revolution.” Arcadia Publishing, 2014.

Lamm, Michael & Holls, Dave. “A Century of Automotive Style 100 Years of American Car Design.” 1996-97.