Ford’s long-lost turbine semi truck ‘Big Red’ found, in good shape

Mar 24, 2021

Back in the 1960s, turbine power was quite the fascination for car companies. Obviously there was the Chrysler Turbine car, but Ford was in the game, too. The difference was that they were considering turbine power for commercial trucks. While a wide array of prototypes were built, easily the most distinguished was the futuristic-looking “Big Red.” It featured a massive turbine engine, massive cab, and an array of features that wouldn’t be out of place in a modern truck, such as room for reclined seating, a TV and small oven (which today would probably be a microwave).

Somewhere along the line, Big Red disappeared from public view. But the truck has been rediscovered, thanks to the efforts of automotive publication The Drive. They tracked down the truck to its current home, and talked with the owner and other people associated with the truck to piece together what happened to it. It’s a fascinating story that you absolutely must read in its entirety over on their site.

The story has all kinds of interesting details. Apparently Ford-backed racing company Holman and Moody nabbed it from Ford after a nasty falling out between them and the Blue Oval, thanks to it being left broken at one of Holman and Moody’s facilities. The truck eventually ended up in the hands of the current owner, who had it fully restored and even had a later Ford turbine engine prototype installed so that it could be fired up and driven again.

The trailers are still missing, but the important part has survived. As for why it hasn’t been seen much, it’s apparently extraordinarily heavy (20,000 pounds), so it can’t be moved easily, and the owner has wanted to maintain a relatively low profile. We’re hoping that the owner and a museum could arrange to have the truck put on display for people to see. In the meantime, check out the full report by The Drive and the cool original video about the truck above.

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