The Ford Splash concept car development process got down to business in September 1988, with construction of the prototype. This was a joint effort of Ford and the Autodynamics Corporation of America.
Autodynamics, a prototype engineering firm located in Detroit, had worked on other Ford concept vehicles. Also assisting in the development process were several regular suppliers to the Ford empire, including Goodyear and Kelsey-Hayes.
Although created with the expectation that it could become a fully operational vehicle with all-wheel drive, the Splash that toured the auto shows in 1989 carried no engine at all. Just a body on wheels, which had to be rolled into the display area.
The Ford Splash concept car was not the only concept vehicle on the auto show circuit without an engine. Concept cars tended to be just mock-ups of plastic, fiberglass, and other quickie materials, created to display a fresh form and little else.
One must realize that the purpose of the Splash was not to test hardware, but to test public reaction. If it happened to draw enough attention to warrant a drivable version -- well, that could always come later.
Which raised the question: Would the Splash or a near-clone emerge as a 1990s edition of the dune buggy that proliferated a decade or two earlier, especially in the western states? Probably not, most thought, at least for regular highway operation; but they hoped that the basic idea just might take hold. Ford wasn't the only automaker to come up with a "fun" car to delight auto-show audiences; the Plymouth Speedster and Pontiac Stinger were also on the show circuit.
With interest in off-roading climbing, a flashy little vehicle aimed at America's younger drivers could have conceivably caught on as a new status symbol. If not, it might have at least gotten some of those younger motorists thinking about just what it was that they wanted to see most in a personalized automobile.
Not many are likely to be taken as seriously as the four students at the Center for Creative Studies. But a look at what they accomplished in the Ford Splash concept car might inspire a few modern-day Giugiaros and Pininfarinas to take pen in hand to come up with some fresh creations for automotive fun.
For details on the specifications of the 1988 Ford Splash concept car, go to the next page.