MotorCities National Heritage Area
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By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images Courtesy of Ford Motor Company Archives
Published 1.11.2023

The 1963 Ford Allegro on display at the Auto Show 7 

The Allegro was a concept model developed during the 1960s by Ford Motor Company’s design team. It was a practical design that offered sleekness and a timeless look that was well-received by the public at auto shows around the country (above). However, the Allegro concept is often forgotten in automotive history.

Eugene Bordinat became VP of Ford Styling in 1962 Ford Motor Company Archives RESIZED 1Eugene Bordinat became VP of Ford Styling in 1962 (Ford Motor Company Archives)

The Allegro concept was created under the direction of Gene Bordinat, the successor to George Walker, and his team of talented Ford designers. McKinley Thompson Jr., Ford’s first African American designer, was part of the team.

McKinley Thompson the first African American Ford designer RESIZED 2McKinley Thompson, the first African American Ford designer

From a design standpoint, the Allegro was distinguished by its long hood, compact passenger compartment and fastback roofline styling. The dramatic but functional interior offered contoured seats that were an integral part of the design structure, along with a cantilever-arm movable steering wheel with an electronic memory unit and adjustable pedals. Some of the features included in the Allegro design, like the roofline, became a part of the Mustang fastback styling introduced in 1964 for the 1965 model year.

Early advertising material for the 1963 Allegro concept model RESIZED 4Early advertising material for the 1963 Allegro concept model

The Allegro concept was the first to be looked upon as a second-generation X-car which had started in late 1962. Some automotive historians have said that the development of the Allegro also contributed to the development of the Mustang project, as well as other Ford concepts later in the 1960s.

Front end design for the 1963 Ford Allegro concept 5Front end design for the 1963 Ford Allegro concept

The Allegro was a two-seater concept built on a Ford Falcon unibody that could be converted into carrying two additional passengers when traveling. It was powered by a V-4 engine made and manufactured by Ford of Germany.

The Allegro concept was on display at the New York World’s Fair to test consumer reaction to its styling and other innovations for future Ford products.

Sideview design for the 1963 Ford Allegro concept CROPPED AND RESIZED 6Sideview design for the 1963 Ford Allegro concept

Before McKinley Thompson had passed away, he told me about the great and exciting times when he helped design the 1963 Allegro concept in the studio with Gene Bordinat. He had fond memories of creating a wonderful design concept that many automotive enthusiasts remember to this day.

An illustration of the Allegro concept was used in a Ford advertisement on 12/4/1963 that said “Assignment: design a car for tomorrow that could be built today!” The Allegro also introduced a Cobra-esque front end design, which most consumers liked when it was on display at the New York World’s Fair. The name “Allegro” indicated a brisk and lively performance.

The 1963 Ford Allegro concept interior RESIZED 8The 1963 Ford Allegro concept interior

There were two Allegro models built: a red-painted fiberglass model that appeared in a 1964 Mustang promotional film and a fully-functional experimental model. The Car Styling Blog said this about the Allegro concept: “From late 1961 to mid-1962, Ford designers experimented with a wide range of themes for a sporty coupe based on the platform of the new Falcon compact. Each design was given an internal name, but one fastback design actually had at least three names starting with Avventure before moving to Avanti and finally Allegro.”

In conclusion, over the years, some automotive historians did not like the styling of the Allegro concept. However, the model was influential on future designs of other Ford products, including the Ford Mustang, which made its own automotive history.

Bibliography

The Ford Book of Styling. “A History and Interpretation of Automotive Design.” Ford Motor Company Dearborn, Michigan, 1963.

Allegro Cougar II Mustang II Styling X cars experimental designs by Ford Motor Company, 1963. Advertising/Press materials.

Car Styling Blog. “1963 Ford Allegro.”