The 1953 Ford Vega

The 1953 Ford Vega

Alright Ryan, I’m piggy-backing off your great Ford Comete Monte Carlo post from yesterday. There was another European-inspired Ford prototype that came a mere two years after the ’51 Comete called the Ford Vega (Did Chevy steal the name?). The one and only prototype came up for sale at Barrett Jackson in 2006 (where it sold to Dallas area Ford dealer Sam Pack for $385,000), and here’s what their catalog scribed about the Weiand equipped, flathead-powered alloy roadster:

”This one off prototype was commissioned by Ford Motor Company and financed by Henry Ford II. Willys Wagner, stylist for the International Division of Ford Motor Company and the legendary Indy racecar designer Frank Kurtis awarded the project to automotive designer Vince Gardner. Vince’s resume included Studebaker, Ford, Budd car body manufacturer, and most notably, the Auburn Automobile Company design department under the direction of Gordon Buehrig, the design team responsible for the famed Cord 810. Vince’s influences from his days at Auburn are clearly evident in the Vega’s (Cord-like) disappearing headlights. Vince spent over 2 years building the lightweight aluminum-bodied roadster. Henry II would check on the progress and sometimes bring along his celebrity friends, Groucho Marx and Red Skelton. Howard Hughes also paid a visit at one point. Upon the roadster’s completion, Ford Motor Company summoned the “one off” Vega roadster back to Dearborn to celebrate the firms 50th anniversary in 1953. Ford displayed the Vega for several years at its Rotunda Exhibition Hall in Dearborn. Then it slipped into obscurity, however, not before a seed was planted. While strolling through the 1953 Paris Auto Show, Henry Ford II, first acknowledged interest in building his own two seat roadster, which would become the 55 Thunderbird.”

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