Ford’s X-100 (aka Continental 195X) – Dean’s Storage

Ford’s X-100 (aka Continental 195X)

By Jim and Cheryl Farrell

Bob Gregorie’s final day at Ford was December 15, 1946. As head of the Ford Design Division for the previous 11 years, he had been unable to persuade Henry Ford II or Ernie Breech, Ford’s new government vice chairman, that Ford designers ought to proceed designing autos based mostly on collaboration between Gregorie and anyone however Breech—and never underneath the GM committee system imposed by Breech.

When Breech employed Walker to design a proposal for the ‘49 Ford, he promised him a long-term consultancy at Ford if his proposal was chosen over Gregorie’s. After Walker’s proposal gained and Gregorie selected to retire, Breech modified his thoughts. He determined it was extra essential for Ford to rebuild its personal design division. Because of this, Walker, and his workers, together with Joe Oros and Elwood Engel, left.

Issues didn’t work out fairly like Breech had deliberate. Ford employed a bunch of latest designers, many from GM, by paying them more cash—generally twice their current salaries, and with guarantees of fast promotions as Ford rebuilt its design division. Designers employed from GM included Gene Bordinat, Bob Maguire, Don DeLaRossa and Dave Ash, who all ultimately grew to become at the very least studio heads at Ford. One other designer employed from GM was George Snyder, who quickly grew to become chief designer at Ford. To make a protracted story brief, Snyder didn’t work out. He felt that Ford designers and clay modelers who had not beforehand labored at GM had been inferior and wanted to be weeded out. He removed many elderly Ford design workers. He was in the end advised to cease it, however didn’t, and that led to his personal termination. Dissension continued as a result of the design proposals from Ford’s new designers started to look an excessive amount of like they got here from GM. Breech’s resolution was to convey again Walker and his workers, particularly Oros and Engel, who had efficiently constructed the contemporary and distinctive trying full-sized ‘49 Ford clay mannequin.

By 1949, Walker, Oros and Engel had been again at Ford, however not as Ford workers. Walker drove a tough discount earlier than he agreed to return. He was permitted to keep up his personal design enterprise plus a facet enterprise run by his son that bought trim components to many vehicle firms. Walker additionally demanded and received management of all publicity about or from the Ford Design Division. As a guide, Walker labored part-time, and Oros and Engel continued to work for him, though they had been assigned to the Ford design division full-time. Engel was Walker’s assistant supervisor and was additionally assigned to the Lincoln-Mercury studio. Oros was assigned to the Ford studio, and if he (or Walker) didn’t just like the designs Ford designers had been proposing, he was approved to design and construct his personal proposals in competitors with these from Ford designers. As is likely to be imagined, this association didn’t make Walker, Oros or Engel many pals at Ford design, but it surely was not modified till 1955.

Oros quickly found that lots of the new designs coming from Ford designers regarded like they had been from GM. His resolution got here within the type of two suggestions he made to unravel the issue. His first suggestion was that the Mercury and Lincoln designed for 1952 needed to present a definite design similarity together with his design that had been chosen for the ‘52 Ford. (Oros’ ‘52 Ford design beat out one from Bob Maguire that did appear like it got here from GM.)

Oros’ second suggestion was to construct a brand new Ford idea automotive to match two idea vehicles then being designed and constructed at GM (Buick LeSabre and Buick XP-300). Oros meant his new idea automotive to seize options he thought had been essential for future Fords—like huge, spherical taillights. Walker received approval for Oros’ new idea automotive which was really designed and constructed within the Lincoln-Mercury studio beginning in late 1949. Oros’ idea automotive was based mostly on a number of of the three/8-sized mannequin idea vehicles designed in Gil Spear’s Ford Superior studio, however the X-100 was closely modified throughout the design course of. No scale drawings or clay fashions had been made earlier than the full-sized clay mannequin was designed and constructed. The massive spherical taillights on the X-100 had been really based mostly on one among Spear’s 3/8-sized fashions referred to as the Cutlass. Oros acknowledged that he, Engel and Spear collaborated usually on the design of the X-100, however in any other case he and clay modelers Charlie and Leonard Stobar had been largely liable for the outside design of the X-100. Maguire, Ted Hobbs and Herman Brunn designed the inside, John Najjar designed the instrument panel, and Dave Ash supervised the constructing of the full-sized clay mannequin.

Phrase of a implausible idea automotive being designed on the Ford Design Division quickly unfold leading to Ford executives dropping by to see the X-100. Quickly Henry Ford II additionally got here to see it, and he spent the higher a part of an hour inspecting it and asking questions of Oros. After that, HFII determined he had discovered his new Continental, and the identify of the automotive was modified from the X-100 to the 195X Continental.

In the meantime, in 1951, youthful brother Invoice Ford was given the job of manufacturing a brand new Continental, and by June 1952, research he had commissioned really useful the brand new Continental be a “fashionable formal” design—and nothing just like the 195X Continental. Thus the identify was modified again to the Ford X-100. Within the meantime, Ford‘s Experimental Engineering division was constructing the X-100 as an operable metal-bodied automotive with as many future options (together with a modified ‘52 Lincoln chassis, a five-carburetor Lincoln engine, a prototype ‘55 Lincoln automated transmission, and a de Dion rear finish) along with all of the devices engineers doubtlessly noticed in Ford’s future. In keeping with Ford engineers who labored on the X-100, the fee to construct it as an operable vehicle with all its devices was in extra of $200,000.

In January 1952, even whereas the operable X-100/Continental 195X was being constructed, a fiberglass and plaster full-sized mannequin of the Continental 195X was unveiled to the general public. On June 15, 1953 the operating X-100 (by then the identify had been modified) was re-introduced on a nationwide TV present celebrating Ford’s fiftieth anniversary. The X-100 was then pushed on the Ford check observe at speeds as much as 90 mph, and for a number of weeks HFII drove the X-100 to work and round Dearborn. Then, the X-100 was shipped to Europe, the place it was pushed and displayed from metropolis to metropolis. Again in the US, the X-100 was pushed to appearances all throughout the U.S. and Canada. It additionally starred in a serious Hollywood film referred to as “Girl’s World.” After that, the X-100 was pushed from Ford vendor to Ford vendor throughout the US the place it was displayed of their showrooms. Surprisingly, uncommon however mandatory repairs (blown condenser, physique harm, and many others.) had been often made whereas it was on the street at native Ford sellers.

Not one of many new Ford idea vehicles, by August 1958, the X-100, displaying an odometer studying of 33,192 miles, was given to the Henry Ford Museum, the place it’s now displayed when not on mortgage to occasions such because the Pebble Seashore or Meadow Brook Concours.

Design options on the X-100 have been included on extra Fords, Mercurys and Lincolns than from different idea vehicles. The X-100 is well Ford’s most essential idea automotive—and it was distinctly a Ford product.

Images: Ford Design