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Technology Gone Wild: Whatever Happened To The Ford Nucleon?

In 1958, inspired by the rise of the 1950's nuclear age, Ford Motor Company built this mock-up model for an automobile powered by a small nuclear reactor, called the Ford Nucleon. Thankfully, no real working models of this nuclear reactor powered car were actually assembled and only this clay model exists of the worst alternative fuel powered car design ever proposed. Ford_Nucleon.jpg

Among some of the serious problems for nuclear powered automobiles would be small drawbacks such as dangerous reactor meltdowns, fuel leaks during accidents, which might render a street unsafe for 50 years while the worst of the radiation half-life passes by, or a serious problem with spent nuclear fuel disposal. Further, potential terrorists would have had a steady supply of dangerous materials to build dirty bombs from as well.

Of all the bad automobile technology designs, the Ford Nucleon probably ranks at the top of the list. For many reasons, it was probably the most dangerous automobile design ever proposed. This design actually makes the 1963 Chrysler jet turbine engined cars which engines spun around at 50,000rpm and produced terrible heat look quite tame by comparison of all the late 50's to early 60's bad automobile design experiments. R.I.P. Ford Nucleon.

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Rating: 2.3/5 (3 votes cast)

Comments (2)


someone should look for better things to write about. That's only an order of magnitude dumber than the Chrysler turbine.
Or, for that matter, that corn ethanol is a viable fuel.

Doubting Thomas:

As far as design goes (not even talking about the mini-reactor in the back) look at that wheelbase. Easy to see where the weight is, isn't it? Now - imagine hitting something at 70 MPH. Figure the sheilding on the reactor is so good it'll hold up to a 150 MPH impact. As you can see, the weight's in the rear, and there'd be a lot of it.

The occupants are gonna get smeared. And let's not even talk about the manuverability issues with this thing - unless the rear wheels castered, it'd have a hell of a turning radius...

Nope, not sorry to see this one never get out of the model stage at ALL!


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