Henry Ford filed a patent for a plastic car on January 13, 1942. At first glance, this fact struck me a curiosity — an interesting development that could’ve been. In truth, Ford had been working with the his plastic prototypes for at least a year before filing and the “plastic” aspect of the car was only half the story.
While the actual recipe for Ford’s plastic is lost to history, it’s likely that the main ingredients were soybeans and hemp — the vehicles are also said to have run on fuel made from the hemp plant. The car was incredibly light compared with steel, but, conversely, ten times as strong. Ford was definitely looking for a way to bypass steel shortages during the war, but he was also interested in combining manufacturing with agriculture stating:
“Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the fields?”
As we look to the future for solutions to sustainable transportation it often proves more wise to look to the past. Here’s a short video compilation that tells the story of Henry Ford’s Hempmobile…