Ford Synthesis 2010

"Oh, no, not another boring car."

Inspired by the Panhard-Levassor Dynavia, I figured it wouldn't have been fair to leave the impression that automakers have been messing around for decades on silly denim-themed trim packages and not bothering to make normal cars more efficient. The Synthesis 2010 morphed visually into the now-iconic "Jellybean" third-generation Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable.

As we say here in Canada, this story is a bit of a twofer.  Underneath this melted sedan is actually a very special car from Ford's kissing cousin, Mercury, who was ultimately the loser in all of this. After all, the company's success in rebranding its wares across two brands killed the messenger—it was no longer unique. (Was Mercury ever all that unique? No, the Capri doesn't count.)

The very special car was the Mercury Sable AIV, an aluminum-intensive second-generation Sable with the heart (in many examples) of the 220 horsepower Taurus SHO. Built in 1993, it would have been quite the Woodward Ave rival for, say, a Dodge Spirit R/T or Pontiac Grand Prix GTP. Yes, of course, I've included links to stories about the car below. In short: it would have been the best-performing second-generation sedan from FoMoCo—the aluminum structure alone saved 181 kg (400 lbs).

One of the AIVs rose, phoenix-like, from the (soon-to-be) ashes of its namesake and emerged as the Ford Synthesis 2010 concept. It's a little sad that the Ford grabbed more headlines, 'cause it relied on many of the AIV's advances…except in the engine department.

The SHO engine in a 1,020 kg (2,250 lb) family sedan would have been entertaining, to say the least: how does a Taurus-sized family sedan with 25 more horsepower and a curb weight of roughly 160 kg (350 lbs) less than the E30 BMW M3 sound? Yeah. 

Instead, it was first fitted with a 1.2-litre 3-cylinder 2-stroke engine, and then with a 1.8-litre 4-cylinder from the Ford Escort. Blech.

I don't have the mechanical ability to create an SHO-engined Synthesis 2010, but if you are and have roughly $18,000 U.S. lying around, that's what it sold for at Christie's in 2002. Interestingly, it was part of Ford's huge collector car auction that raised a few million bucks as part of a larger strategy to right-size before the recession that ultimately speared its Detroit rivals.