Nobody ever said concept cars couldn't be fun, and no vehicle ever demonstrated that idea better than the 1988 Ford Splash concept car. Ford's free-spirited, youth-oriented Splash concept vehicle flaunted its pleasures brazenly, without a hint of shyness. The colorful four-seater -- the creation of a quartet of talented young design students -- owed its origin more to the Volkswagen Beetle-based dune buggies of California than to humdrum passenger cars, or even to conventional sports cars.
Company publicity, in fact, barely let on that the multipurpose Ford Splash concept car was created with motoring in mind. Instead, it was described as "the ultimate toy for those who like water sports."
Water, in fact, served as a basic theme. Splash was supposed to be a vehicle that served as transportation to the beach or the ocean, carrying scuba or surfing gear and as many as four revelers.
However, anyone older than 25 was sure to wonder just where those two in the back could possibly have squeezed in when the roof panel was in place. Cramped? Sardines would probably cry out for more elbow room.
If nothing else, the Ford Splash concept car was colorful. Flamboyantly so. Youthfully so. No dowdy grays or wilted browns here, to detract from the feeling of wild abandon.
Both the body and the interior were decked out in fluorescent blue with magenta accents, intended to deliver a never-ending aura of being out in the fresh, open air. The matching wheels were similarly colored. Upholstery wasn't tacky plastic or conventional fabric, but a rubberized material like that used in wet suits. Not much harm could be done if guests flopped down wearing their dripping swimwear.
Wedge-shaped profiles with low front ends and high decks had become standard fare on cars of every stripe, but nothing on the market displayed as steep a forward rake as the Ford Splash concept car.
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Much of it was illusion, though, as the car actually sat fairly level to the ground. A big bubble windshield matched the curved back window. And if you needed more than a breath of that sea air, you could remove the windows, roof panel, and hatch to let in all the air you could handle.
As the snow flew, however, windows and a roof would sound sensible indeed, and you may have wanted to tack them on as you packed skis into the Splash for a jaunt to the slopes. Yet summer or winter, safety was part of the Ford Splash concept car design concept, with its integral roll cage and four-point harness seatbelts for each occupant.
The 1988 Ford Splash concept car had more interesting design features that married style and safety. Go the next page to learn about them.