September 29, 2023

The Ford Mexico

By Jim and Cheryl Farrell

Most of us have seen the film “Ford Versus Ferrari.” That film might not be correct in all respects, however it does present Henry Ford II’s willingness to spend Ford cash to construct vehicles that gained races just like the 24 Hours of LeMans. Fords gained that race from 1966–69, however LeMans was not the primary nor will it’s the final time Ford went racing. In 1935, Ford-built race vehicles had been pushed in that 12 months’s Indianapolis 500—with not excellent outcomes. Though Ford’s participation within the Mexican Street Races 17 years later was initiated by Benson Ford, HFII was properly happy when Lincoln gained its class in that race in 1952, ’53 and ‘54.

Within the Nineteen Fifties, due to publicity about Corvette’s success through the Daytona Seaside Velocity Week, HFII determined to ship a properly ready 2-passenger Thunderbird to Daytona Seaside to compete. Throughout a velocity run, the Thunderbird hit a bump, took to the air at a reported 135 mph, went the other way up, after which slid down the seaside for about 1,500 ft. A lot to HFII’s embarrassment, the wreck was all captured on digital camera.

As a result of no person might inform HFII what went incorrect or the way to repair the issue with the brand new Thunderbird, he contacted Ford engineers and requested them. His engineers had no reply both, however they referred him to Ford’s resident aerodynamics professional, Alex Tremulis, on the Ford Styling Middle.

Tremulis, who was head of the Superior studio on the time, advised Mr. Ford that the issue was apparent—the Thunderbird developed an excessive amount of carry over the rear finish, and when it hit a bump it went airborne. HFII requested Tremulis the way to repair the issue. Tremulis advised him it couldn’t be fastened, and the following time the Thunderbird was going that quick it was possible the identical factor would occur if the automobile hit a bump. Tremulis then advised Mr. Ford he wanted a zero-lift automobile to repair the issue. Mr. Ford didn’t actually know what Tremulis was speaking about, however when Tremulis advised him he might design such a automobile, HFII advised him to please achieve this.

Administration on the Ford Styling Middle was skeptical, and Tremulis was given just one week to design his aerodynamic, zero-lift automobile. So inside the subsequent week, Tremulis, with help from designer Romeyn Hammond and clay modeler Larry Wilson, transformed another person’s already completed 3/8-sized mannequin right into a race automobile Tremulis named the Mexico after the Mexican Street Races.

After the Mexico was completed, Tremulis and Hammond put in a full stomach pan. Most designer and engineers snickered, however Tremulis took the completed 3/8 mannequin with stomach pan to the College of Maryland’s wind tunnel the place, to everybody shock, it was decided to have a drag coefficient of .22 with the stomach pan and double that with out. When Tremulis returned to Dearborn, he advised Mr Ford the end result, and that he calculated the Mexico must be going 400 mph earlier than it developed carry issues. In consequence, HFII requested Tremulis to design a full-sized operable Mexico. The operable Mexico Tremulis designed had a tubular body and weighed solely 2,500 lbs, together with a 400-hp Mercury Marauder engine. Tremulis advised HFII the Mexico, as he had designed it with the Marauder engine, had a calculated high velocity of 240 mph—quick sufficient to beat the world’s quickest sports activities vehicles.

Within the 1954 Mexican Street Race, Lincoln gained its class for the third 12 months in a row, and plans had been quickly underway getting ready for the 1955 race. The larger ‘56 Lincoln was alleged to be launched for the 1955 mannequin 12 months, however due to the necessity for up to date engineering, together with a much bigger engine and brakes, it needed to be delayed for one 12 months. In consequence, eight inches had been added to the size of the ‘54 Lincoln physique model, largely within the rear finish. With different modifications, that automobile change into the ‘55 Lincoln. The additional size could have helped it present continuity with the following (1956) Lincoln, however the further size, totally on the rear of the ‘55 Lincoln, created an excessive amount of carry, which successfully disqualified it from consideration for future Mexican highway races. That left Ford Motor Co. with two selections in the event that they needed to take part within the 1955 Mexican Street Race: 1) use Mercurys as a substitute of Lincolns; and/or 2) enter a number of special-build Ford Mexicos in a distinct class and attempt to blow the doorways off of each different automobile within the race!

The choice whether or not to arrange and enter Mercurys and/or to construct and enter the Mexico within the 1955 race didn’t have to be made as a result of future Mexican highway races had been cancelled after the 1954 race. (To many bystanders had been being killed or injured).

Many designers and engineers at Ford in that period believed that had there been a Mexican Street Race in 1955, Ford might have constructed Tremulis’ Mexico in time and it could have gained that race. Along with competing within the Mexican Street Races, Ford designers and engineers dreamed of different races (just like the 24 Hours of Le Mans); a 2,500 lb., 400-hp Ford Mexico might have been entered.

After it was determined to not construct the Mexico as an actual race automobile, Tremulis made a 3/8-sized driver to sit down within the Mexico’s drivers seat. The little man seemed identical to Tremulis with a racing helmet. Tremulis and Hammond additionally put in a platform beneath the Mexico with servos, battery and a radio-controlled electrical motor. Tremulis typically drove the Mexico inside and out of doors the Styling Middle, typically simply to see how distant it could possibly be managed. Each earlier than and after Tremulis involuntarily left Ford in 1963, the Mexico often sat on a raised bench close to the door to the Superior studio. Then at some point, it was gone. A good friend later advised Tremulis that after he left, about 20 of his fashions had been gathered up and moved to the Rouge, the place they had been put beneath a tarp—and years later had been destroyed.

Images: Ford Design