Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) may be taking the retro concept to a new level if industry rumors are correct. Insiders say that Ford has plans to introduce a new line of cars going all the way back to the original vehicles produced by founder Henry Ford.
Retro has been a growing movement in the auto industry, with vehicles like Chrysler's Dodge Charger and PT Cruiser, Chevrolet's HHR pickup, and Ford's own Mustang. Now Ford's new CEO, Alan Mulally, is reportedly pushing to extend the retro concept.
First up will be the 2010 Ford Edsel. Widely considered a failure during its run in the late 1950s, many in the company think the time is right to try again. The 1958 Edsel was large for its time. Pricing ran from $2500 to $4000, weighed about 4000 pounds, had a V8 with over 300 horsepower and came standard with a 3-speed manual transmission. To maintain the spirit of the original, the 2010 model will have roughly similar specs, though for now drivers will have to make do with a 4-speed automatic transmission. The Edsel will have cost roughly ten times the 1958 price.
The bolder move will be the 2011 Model T. In an effort to be faithful to the original 1908 version, the new car will weigh about 1200 pounds, have a 4 cylinder engine with 20 horsepower and will be started with a hand crank. Some compromises will be made. The vehicle will have a 5-speed manual transmission instead of the 2-speed in the original, as there were concerns about driveability. With the modern transmission, top speed is raised to 60 mph from 45 in the 1908 version. Ford will make a 2-speed transmission available as a no-cost option.
One bit of evidence that supports the Model T story is Ford's recent hire of Gertrude Baines at their design center in Los Angeles. Born in 1894, Baines was known for spending a lot of time in the back seat of a Model T when she was a teen, which suggests she will be helpful on the interior design.
Ford declined comment on this story.