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1993 Ford Synthesis 2010

The 1993 Ford Synthesis 2010 looks pretty conventional - not the exaggerated, niche-focused, radical creation that is expected from a "concept." It was designed for a tiny, by Sable standards, engine - initially a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder 2-stroke, later with a 1.8-liter 4-stroke Escort engine. Yet, Synthesis 2010 ranks among the most significant lots offered here. That is because Synthesis 2010 is aluminum and estimated at 98% recyclable. Its interior volume is the same as the contemporary Mercury Sable. Its curb weight is just 2,250 pounds, a 28% reduction in mass with no sacrifice in function. Less mass means comparable performance even with smaller engines. Smaller engines mean greater economy and lower emissions, and in theory, this concept would have used alternative fuel motors in the future.

Synthesis 2010 uses aluminum extensively in the drivetrain, brakes, and suspension arms and, most importantly, its complete lightweight aluminum unit body. The aluminum stampings are joined with an experimental "weld bonding" process which combines resistance spot welding with chemical bonding techniques for strength, longevity, and reduced noise, vibration, and harshness.

A project team of Tom Scott, Director of International Design, Bill Stuef, Manager of Advanced Vehicle Engineering, and Mark Conforzi, International Design Manager, managed the realization of Synthesis 2010. Stuef's work is the hardest to see, while Scott's and Conforzi's contributions are right out front. Synthesis 2010's appearance results from aluminum's reluctance to be stamped. It likes to spring back into its original shape and requires designers to work within new limitations, limitations which Synthesis 2010 embodies in its appearance. Synthesis 2010 is a four-door sedan, riding on 5-spoke 16" cast alloy wheels with P215/60R-16 Goodyear tires. Brakes are discs at all four corners. The leather-trimmed interior features front bucket seats with a console-mounted shifter for the automatic transmission and sound system controls mounted on a flexible stalk. The instrument cluster with blue-faced gauges is tightly packed directly in front of the driver's 4-spoke leather-trimmed steering wheel. Bright aluminum trim accents the dash, instruments, and console. The interior's present condition shows use. Other novel features include a blue-tinted windshield with a solar panel in the top (which in concept charged the battery and worked a fan), a chrome and cloth steering wheel, a keyless entry system, and a distinctive asymmetrical design to the trunk lid.

The exterior finish is called Ceramic Blue; a semi-transparent coating is applied over the polished aluminum panels and shifts from a light, almost ice blue, hue to nearly plain natural silver depending upon lighting and view angle. Like the interior, the exterior shows the use, some scratches, and other surface blemishes. There is also a broken quarter glass in the right rear. Small "Synthesis 2010" emblems are engraved on each side of the hood.

This Synthesis 2010 was an early example of the visions embodied by PNGV, Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles. This was a voluntary government-industry initiative founded in 1983 that included seven federal agencies, the U.S. DOE's national laboratories, universities, suppliers, and the U.S Council for Automotive Research (USCAR), a cooperative effort among Ford, Chrysler, and GM. On the anniversary of PNGV in October 1994, the Synergy 2010 appeared at the White House and was inspected by President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and Technology advisor Jack Gibbons. An important step on the road to recyclable, fuel-efficient, low emissions vehicles, Synthesis 2010 is a clear example of the essential interaction between engineering and styling in practical design.

Images: Ford

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