In the early 1940s, Henry Ford experimented with making plastic parts for automobiles. These experiments resulted in what was described as a "plastic car made from soybeans." Although this automobile never made it into the museum's collections, it remains a good example of innovative design.
The Ford soybean car of 1941 was so named because its body panels were said to be constructed from a soy-based plastic created in Ford’s soybean laboratory at Greenfield Village in Dearborn. The frame, made of tubular steel, had 14 plastic panels attached to it. The car weighed 2000 lbs., 1000 lbs. lighter than a steel car.
The exact ingredients of the plastic panels are unknown because no record of the formula exists today. One article claims that they were made from a chemical formula that, among many other ingredients, included soybeans, wheat, hemp, flax and ramie.
At an annual community event called Dearborn Days held on August 13, 1941, Ford made a strong impression on the public by displaying the Soybean Car and using ax repeatedly on the plastic lid mounted behind the car.
As a result, the plastic is unharmed, and the ax is thrown from Henry Ford's hand. With the above test, Ford proves that the car has a plastic part that is both safe, as strong as steel, and lighter than traditional steel cars and claims that cars can even be rolled through plastic. But it's not crushed.
In the patent note, Ford says plastic can help make cars with less noise, and plastic can be molded into parts of exact sizes and can be easily replaced. in the event of an accident.