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In the 1950s and early 60s, the dawn of nuclear power was supposed to lead to a limitless consumer culture, a world of flying cars and autonomous kitchens all powered by clean energy. In Europe, it offered the then-limping continent a cheap, inexhaustible supply of power after years of rationing and infrastructure damage brought on by two World Wars.
The development of nuclear-powered submarines and ships during the 1940s and 50s led car designers to begin conceptualizing atomic vehicles. Fueled by a consistent reaction, these cars would theoretically produce no harmful byproducts and rarely need to refuel. Combining these vehicles with the new interstate system presented amazing potential for American mobility.
But the fantasy soon faded. There were just too many problems with the realities of nuclear power. For starters, the powerplant would be too small to attain a reaction unless the car contained weapons-grade atomic materials. Doing so would mean every fender-bender could result in a minor nuclear holocaust. Additionally, many of the designers assumed a lightweight shielding material or even forcefields would eventually be invented (they still haven't) to protect passengers from harmful radiation. Analyses of the atomic car concept at the time determined that a 50-ton lead barrier would be necessary to prevent exposure.
Cool comes in multiple flavors. One one hand, we have the sophisticated attraction of svelte design and the efficient use of power. Of course, on the other hand there is the allure of being the bad boy and going against the grain. That is part of the appeal of rat rods. Ideally, they are built without rules to an owner's specific tastes, and this widened and heavily modified 1947 Chevrolet pickup rod is a perfect example of that spirit.
Coming down the highway with a bent grille, rusted body and pouring smoke, it looks like the pickup from hell. It backs up the looks with some very impressive mechanicals too. Owner Troy Gubser says that the truck packs a Ford Power Stroke diesel with to 42 pounds of boost that runs out of 8-inch exhaust stacks at the back. He claims it managed 505 horsepower and 885 pound-feet of torque on the dyno. To harness all that power, this hot rod has a ZF five-speed manual gearbox with a ceramic clutch and short-throw shifter. Plus, it has cool little features like a doorbell on the tailgate that operates an air horn.
You might not expect a truck like this to actually be useful, but it has a fifth wheel coupling to haul an RV around drag races and car shows. The air suspension also probably keeps the ride fairly comfy when Gubser wants it to be. Scroll down to check out this beastly rat rod pickup and watch it engage in some diesel drag racing. Warning, there is some NSFW language.
According to Ford, the Chinese SUV segment grew by 49 percent in 2013, and the Blue Oval held a 4.5 percent market share. At the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, Ford is showing the Everest SUV that, while just a concept for now, will go into production in the near future.
The Everest is a big, brawny seven-seat SUV that mixes solid, chiseled styling and contemporary Ford design cues. Up front there is an angular version of the trapezoidal grille and sharp, wraparound headlights. The beltline rises in the rear to make the back appear higher than the front. The rear seems just as chiseled, with the taillights resting in jagged scallops. There is no doubt that this concept means to look rugged, and ready for rough roads - the whole thing looks pretty great.
The truck was penned by Ford's Asia Pacific design and engineering team in Australia, and it was first shown in Sydney last year. Ford's JMC joint venture will build the truck for the Chinese market, and it will be sold at Ford dealers there. The Blue Oval isn't hinting at what powers the production version yet, but it reportedly shares some components with the foreign-market Ranger.