Nuclear-Powered Car Vision: Ford (1950s), Range 5,000 Miles

The Nucleon: Unfulfilled Promise of a 3/8 Scale Mockup

Ah, the 1950s. Automobile styling in the U.S.A. was heavily swayed by the jet age. People were wild about the trendsetting jets, however this was also a period wherein nuclear energy was making huge advances. How different would the automotive industry have been if it had experienced a similar impact due to nuclear power?

Ford recently added photos of the Nucleon concept and its original press release from 1958 to their Heritage Vault. As the press release explains, this concept was “merely a design study to see how future vehicles incorporating nuclear power might look”. The Nucleon featured a round power capsule in its “bed” which contained an atomic core. That is what Ford was exploring with this unique concept.

In addition, the stylish look features retractable bumpers for improved aerodynamic effectiveness. The passenger area provides electronic weather management systems. According to the statement, Ford anticipated a range of 5000 miles prior to needing its Nucleon to be recharged.

Certainly, all of this was simply supposition. This pattern never went ahead of a 3:8-proportion engineering trial, hence, at no point was there any notion driving through Detroit with an atomic generator in the rear. In case you’ve been to “the Motor City”, it’s recognizable that would have been preferable.

The press release revealed a vision of the future that proposed nuclear reactors small enough to fit in a vehicle. However, by 2023 these reactors remain large since they are essentially oversized steam engines. Seemingly, Ford speculated a prospect in which nuclear reactions could generate energy directly, yet we still puzzle over the issue of how to replenish an atom that is steadily decaying.

Ford’s foresight of the future wasn’t too far off, as per their press release mentioning the replacing of gasoline stations with charging docks. What they had in mind for the Nucleon was front and back electronic devices to alert riders of either approaching autos. These days, many modern cars have similar warning systems fitted, and often are included in the essential specs for specific models.

If you find that the concept of the Nucleon looks familiar, then it is quite likely that you are a devoted gamer. According to reports, the design of the cars powered by fusion in the Fallout video game series were inspired by the Nucleon idea. We made contact with Ford to determine if this was, in fact, the case, as there appear to be many parallels between the Nucleon and the cars from the post-apocalyptic world presented in the game. At this stage, we could not verify this data. Yet, should any additional data become available, we’ll update the post.

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