Ford’s 021C Concept Car Was Years Ahead of its Time, Still Looks Good 20 Years Later

Having seen the Ford 012C Concept in person at the North American International Auto Show in 1999, we knew it was something special, even all those years ago. In fact we kept tabs on the design over the year, seeing if Ford might borrow inspiration from it on their production cars. (Sadly they did not.)

Designed by award-winning product designer Marc Newson, it famously was one of the few concept cars helmed by someone that wasn’t a car designer.

Looking back at the cute, diminutive car 20+ years later, we’re struck by how relevant the design is in 2020, and how the concept could easily be brought to life as an EV.

From the use of all LED headlights (the very first car to even propose these) to the swiveling interior chairs, and pillar-less design, the car is full of design touches that look sharp today, nailing the minimalism note perfectly.

We love concept cars, and it’s rare for them to look as relevant today as they did at their unveiling. See more on Newson’s website.

Every component of the car was designed and fabricated from scratch from workshops all over the world; the tyres were custom-made by Pirelli in Italy, for example. The composite exterior featured seamless shapes and deceptively simple surfaces, including a wraparound, retractable trunk that opens like a drawer, and door handles that are simple aluminum buttons surrounded by translucent plastic rings, which illuminate when remote locking is activated.

The doors themselves open to expose a completely open ‘pillarless’ interior. The windows were designed to allow as much light as possible to enter. The single horizontal headlight and rear light are powered with LEDs which, at the time of making, was a state-of-the-art technology never seen in automotive design. The entire interior ceiling is illuminated with optical fibres. Other innovations include a hovering instrument panel that adjusts up and down in its entirety.