Ford Was Involved in the Space Race, Too (Kind of)

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The ’54 Ford FX got a little spacey

In the early 50s, the world was overtaken by a fascination with space and the moon and the solar system. It was all uncharted territory, and everyone wanted to be a part of the history. By the mid-50s, there was even a space race between the Soviet Union and the United States to see who could launch the first artificial satellite. In 1957, this race led to the introduction of Sputnik- the world’s first artificial satellite.

Back on earth, auto manufacturers sensed the fascination and started to craft concept vehicles that mirrored the space mentality. One of the first companies to hop on the bandwagon was Ford, who released the Ford FX-Atmos in 1954.

This vehicle- originally launched at the 1954 Chicago Auto Show- was designed to have two joy sticks that would sit on both sides of the driver and was envisioned to run from nuclear power!! Even stranger, though, was the vehicle’s body: it featured a glass dome roof, tail fins, and a rocket like exhaust. Basically, it was a car that would be seen on the Jetsons.

This car never made it to the road or serious production, but it did influence a slew of upcoming cars like the ’56 Mystere and the ’58 La Galaxie. But, none would become as popular as the car Ford put out in 1955.

The La Galaxie was one of the more popular concept vehicles that were showcased at the Chicago Auto Show.

The La Galaxie was one of the more popular concept vehicles that were showcased at the Chicago Auto Show.

Enter Stage Right- The Lincoln Futura

One year after the release of the Ford FX-Atmos, Ford’s Lincoln division was at it again, releasing the Lincoln Futura in 1955. Unlike the ’54 FX-Atmos, the Lincoln Futura was pushed into commercial production and even made it onto the road. The vehicle featured an opened variation of the previous year’s glass dome roof, making it more like a convertible. It also kept the tail fins and rocket style exhausts.

The Lincoln Futura became the most popular of the spacey 50s cars.

The Lincoln Futura became the most popular of the spacey 50s cars.

But the Lincoln Futura will forever be known for one thing: being the Batmobile on the Batman television series that starred mayor of Quahog Adam West. After a series of modifications that increased speed and gave the car more of a “bat like” look, the car stayed with the show for 3 seasons and one incredibly wacky movie (side note I loooooved this movie as a kid; I even had the movie’s pillowcase and sippy cup and poster). The Futuras run on the popular show cemented the legacy of the “spacey 50s car” in the American consciousness for all-time and helped Ford demonstrate how great and innovative they could be.

The infamous Batmobile.

The infamous Batmobile.