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Ford Picks Winners Of 21st Century Model T Competition

Illustration for article titled Ford Picks Winners Of 21st Century Model T Competition

As part of the 100th anniversary of Ford's Model T — happening right no, this very year, the Dearborn automaker announced a design contest among university students to create a Model T for the new century. The mandate: Design a simple, lightweight, practical vehicle that would be priced under $7,000. Six universities were selected to participate, and the winners were Aachen University in Cologne, Germany and Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, each of whom receive $25,000 in scholarship money for their respective programs. More about the designs after the jump.

The Aachen University team entered their creatively named "2015 Model T" concept using a standardized chassis that, much like the original Tin Lizzie, could support a variety of body styles including a pickup, city car and sedan. The Model T2 from Deakin University seems to ignore the "simple" and "practical" elements of the competition, instead using a three-wheel layout powered by compressed air rotary hub motors. The contest results lead us to wonder why Ford expects us to embrace American designs when they're so clearly not prepared to do so themselves. After all, the four other participating schools were all US-based: the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, Calif.; Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Mich.; University of Michigan-Dearborn, and West Philadelphia High School, Philadelphia, Pa. Yet Ford is telling us that an air-powered Australian tripod car most clearly embraces the spirit of the Model T? We're crying foul. [Carscoop]

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DISCUSSION

That three-wheeler looks suspiciously like the VW Scooter concept from about 20 years ago.

I thought Ford's own Model U concept did a pretty good job of continuing the Model T's original philosophy, but frankly can't you get the same philosophy from a first-gen Scion xB? Basic transportation, no unnecessary frills, mechanical simplicity?

Too bad about the Model U - I liked it. It was a nice boxy sport-ute sort of deal with lots of recycled/recycleable parts and a clean, uncluttered design language. No Nagare foolishness in that thing, no sir. And the turbocharged hydrogen-fueled engine was considerably less vaporware than the compressed air hubmotor (there's some monster unsprung weight right there). I'm not saying compressed-air for your energy source is vaporware - there's a French company doing it and it seems to work okay. But as a hubmotor? I think it would die from Shaken Baby Syndrome pretty quickly.