TIME CAPSULE:A WILD IDEA FROM DETROIT’S PAST: THE FIFTH WHEEL THUNDERBIRD

0
132
june retroaimgp1577-1

june retroaimgp1577-1A famous American automotive design firm named Marcks-Hazelquist-Powers was a significant player in the look of Detroit’s finest from the past. They were creative and definitely thought outside of the box when it came to innovation.

A 1968 Motor Trend article captured the spirit of this firm when they revealed a design concept that turned a Ford Thunderbird into a 5th wheel hauler.

In fact, their concept car/trailer package included a luxurious 33 ft trailer that contained all of the creature comforts of home, including 2 double beds, entertainment center, patio and bath.

oct11tbird4imgp0821-2 

They named it The American Road 1 and MT’s writer called it a “yacht you know-for the highway”.

The T-bird’s trunk lid was replaced with a 3- piece unit that allowed a hitch to be placed on a frame closer to the rear axels for a better weight distribution. The guidance rails in the trunk ensured that the trailer hitch found its way to the ball, regardless of the driver’s skill levels.

oct11tbirdimgp0821-1

It made sense in an era when cars pulled holiday trailers, but the T bird’s highway gears and the weight of the 33 ft trailer likely meant that the car would go through trannies like pints of oil through bad piston rings.

oct11tbird2imgp0821-1

However in 1968 the idea made sense in a general way. The car could haul more passengers in upscale Thunderbird style and comfort while the trailer would provide first class lodging. A stranded family with a burnt-out T-bird transmission would definitely make use of the trailer.

oct11tbird3imgp0821-1

These days even bigger holiday trailers are hauled by monster factory trucks with big torque diesels under the hood. A big trailer is a light workout for the big boy trucks and nobody bats an eye at the sight of this combo passing everybody on the road.

But the sight of a vintage Thunderbird doing time as a fifth wheel hauler would turn plenty of heads-then and now.

Jim Sutherland

More car stuff athttps://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/

- Sponsors -