Ford’s concept car department was doing some genuinely interesting stuff at the tail end of their first century. There was their Focus Ghia concept (1992), the wonderful Mark Newsom 021c concept in 1999, and the less-well-known 24-7 concept from 2000. Let’s talk about that one, because I love it.

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For something about to be old enough to get a driver’s license in my state (and married in some others) the 24-7 still looks fresh and modern today. The design of the 24-7 is also interesting because, aside from some shape motifs in the windows, it’s not a design style that really made it into any of Ford’s (or, really, anybody’s) production cars, and I think that’s a shame.

The 24-7 is interesting as a concept because of how overtly practical it is. It feels like an advanced design exercise, sure, but it’s one that you could actually use on a daily basis.

Fundamentally, it’s a re-working of the basic hatchback design, and in fundamental form it owes a lot to Giugiaro’s original Volkswagen Golf, or, if we want to keep things nice and Fordular, the first-gen Fiesta.

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The rear hatch setup strangely prefigures the Pontiac Aztek’s double-window tailgate setup, just much more successfully. Here, though the divide is much higher, with the upper sloping window forming part of the roof, leaving the nearly vertical rear window to act as the hatch.

The lighting is especially nice, and reflects another never-happened trend of the ‘90s and early ‘00s. At the front and rear are full-width diffuse-white semitransparent panels, with friendly round-ish headlights that appear when illuminated, and similar ovoid red taillights at the rear.

I especially like the turn indicator/marker light treatment, which is formed from the side cross-section of the bumper. It’s so clean and neat and nice I just want to do whatever plotzing entails.

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Look how appealing and useful this design could have been — huge windows for great visibility, what seems like a nice canvas opening roof, plenty (and flexible-looking) cargo room, all in a novel-looking, crisp little origami box.

The 24-7 seems to grab design cues from lots of cars I like, and mixes them up and modernizes the crap out of them: the LeCar’s fabric roof, the CRX’ rear hatch, the unashamed geometry of a Fiat Ritmo — it’s full of interesting cues, and it blends them so well.

Why didn’t this catch on more? Compared to a Yaris or a Mirage or even Ford’s own Fiesta, I can’t help but find this look more engaging than all those increasingly anonymous hatches, and it seems like a more space-efficient design as well. Maybe there were unsolvable aero issues?

I’m not sure what happened to the crisp techno-box look, but I wouldn’t mind if it got another go.

Whaddya say, Ford? Dust this guy off for the 2018 Fiesta?

Contact the author at jason@jalopnik.com.