Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.
The "Soybean Car", a plastic-bodied car, was unveiled by Henry Ford at Dearborn Days, an annual community festival. The frame, made of tubular steel, had 14 plastic panels attached to it. The car weighed 2000 lbs, 1000 lbs. lighter than a steel car. The exact ingredients of the plastic panels are unknown because no record of the formula exists today. One source claimed the car panels were a complex blend of soybeans, wheat, hemp, flax and ramie, but those who worked on the project have stated that they were a blend of soybean fiber, phenolic resin and formaldehyde, which would make them similar in architecture (if not materials) to the Duroplast panels later used on the East German Trabant (composed of cotton fibers and phenol resin). It was designed to run on hemp fuel. The Henry Ford Museum gives three reasons for Ford's decision to make a plastic automobile, the plastic car made from soybeans - 1. Ford was looking to integrate industry with agriculture; 2. Ford claimed that his plastic made these cars safer than normal metal cars; 3. Ford wished to make his new plastic material a replacement for the metals used in normal cars. A side benefit would have been easing of the shortage of metal during World War II. Because of World War II all US automobile production was curtailed considerably, and the plastic car experiment basically came to a halt. By the end of the war the plastic car idea went into oblivion.
Soybean Car - 1941