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Colorized Mario's Tribute to 1955 Mercury D-528

Ford's Engineering Test Car

The 1955 Mercury D-528 was a car developed by Ford Engineering to test various ideas that were new and even wild at the time. It was built to test advanced concepts in seating, lighting, air conditioning and front frame design.

Instead of standard tail fins of the era, the D528 had hinged compartments on either side of the trunk. One conceals the gas tank, the other the spare tire.

Ford’s first reverse-sloping retractable rear window, a feature that would show up on a couple of the corporation's models such as the 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser and the 1958 Lincoln. The 1955 Mercury D-528 was never destroyed. It is on display at the Petersen Auto Museum in California.

This is my Tribute to the 1955 Mercury D-528. Enjoy, Mario

1 The 1955 Mercury D-528 styling was largely completed in 1954. Elaborate two-tone paint schemes and the styling is comparatively clean. A striking yet elegant pillar less saloon.

2 Developed in the 1950s, in an era when concepts were called dream cars, the D-528 was built to test various ideas that were new and even wild at the time. It was Ford’s experimental rolling laboratory.

3 An interesting feature of the dashboard design is the central section that wraps around into the passenger compartment. The driver was presented with four elegant gauge pods on the dash behind a stylish two-spoke steering wheel.

4 Unusual for its time, but somewhat prophetic of what can be found on today’s cars with the dash wrapping around into the passenger compartment.

5 The Mercury Y-Block V8 engine was 256 cu in and produced 161 hp.

6 Ford introduced the Y-Block V8 design in 1954 as a replacement for the Flathead 8 and by 1955 it was also available in Mercury and Ford cars including the new Thunderbird.

7 The 1955 Mercury housed the new Y-block V8 engine.

8 Instead of standard tail fins of the era, the D528 has hinged compartments on either side of the trunk. One conceals the gas tank and the other the spare tire.

9 The hinged rear fender bulges were functional, concealing a spare tire on one side and a gas tank on the other.

10 The trunk lid has a blob-like shape. It might have been improved by being flatter and by having a more squared-off aft.

11 Ford’s first reverse-sloping retractable rear window, a feature that would show up on a couple of the corporation's models.

12 Its long low body was dominated by soft curves, creating an aerodynamic silhouette. Then there are those curvaceous additions that weren’t simply decorative. They opened on hinges with the right wing containing a spare tire, and the left the fuel tank.

13 Main complaint is the front fenders are too rounded, providing a heavier-than-necessary appearance. Too much overhang in front of the wheel opening for a rear-wheel drive car.

14 Taillight housings do not seem to blend well with the bulges. This unique car was never intended as a show car, but rather, was meant to be a research project on wheels.

15 Leslie Kendall, Curator, Peterson Auto Museum LA Calif. Unlike many concept cars from the 1950s, the D-528 was never destroyed. It is on display at the Petersen Auto Museum in California.

16 The exterior of the D-528 was designed by Ford’s Gil Spear and the interior by John Samsen. Design studies for the car began in late 1953.

17 Note the thin, flat roof -- a feature Chrysler used in its sensational 1957 redesigns. The long, low, wide car epitomizes the jet-age outlandishness of the era.

18 The windshield is somewhat panoramic. The A pillars lean backward in the fashion Chrysler used in 1955 and later models.

19 The design gave the car adequate luggage capacity despite the need to accommodate a large air conditioning system in the trunk.

20 Ford thought the D-528 was an engineering research investment without the need for any benefit of the publicity it might generate if revealed to the public on the show circuit.

21 The D-528 was built to test advanced concepts in seating, lighting, air conditioning, front frame crash absorption and wrap-over doors with motor-driven panels that open when the door is in use to allow for easy entry/exit.

22 To contrast the car’s sinuous overall shape, the Ford designers incorporated a distinctive sectioned front grille with bold slats. And a subtle power bulge that ran the length of the sweeping hood, drawing air in through its small frontal scoop to cool the V8.

23 The car was never finished to meet auto show exhibit standards. This is why the bumpers were painted and not chromed. It was far from perfect due to gap issues around the hood and unaligned window trim. This would have been corrected if the car had gone into production.

24 An in-house research vehicle that was never shown to the public. They added a chrome roll bar to improve safety in the event of a rollover, an innovative feature at the time.

25 The first vehicle to feature an electrically operated rear window made it into production quite rapidly, hitting dealerships in the 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser and 1958 Lincoln.

26 Despite its relative lack of public exposure, the Mercury D-528 remains a stunning one-off creation and served a more important role than many concept cars, acting as a test ‘mule’ for styling and technological developments that would influence Ford’s production cars well into the 1960s.

27 The D-528 provided a spacious trunk despite the need to accommodate a large air conditioning system in the trunk. The focus was on the innovative system that allowed cool air to fall on the passengers through the hollow roof and perforated headliner and not be exposed to drafts.

28 While it wasn't necessarily futuristic for 1955, the D-528 was impressively long and low compared to production models from the era. A four-door hardtop configuration with no B-pillars.

29 It also sported a fully cast fiberglass body, the largest Ford had made to date, and a plexiglass windshield. Reverse-sloping rear window was also a first for Ford. You can see the chrome roll bar here.

30 The interior showcased a decidedly modern layout with a wraparound dashboard that extended into the door panels. Both Lincoln and Mercury started to wraparound their dashboards in 1955.

31 It boasted design features such as a pillar less windshield and wrap around dashboard on a fully cast Fiberglass body. The largest Ford ever built.

32 In 2005 it sold for $187,000 ($277,000 today) to a private collector. Eventually it was donated to the Petersen Auto Museum in Calif.

33 The D-528 was owned by several collectors thru 2022, repainted a few times before it ended up as a restored classic in its original copper hue in the Petersen Auto Museum.

34 It introduced a different approach to rear fins, which incorporated lump-shaped lids that revealed storage compartments. The right fender housed a spare tire, the left one hid the gas tank.

35 The 1955 Mercury D-528 was the 528th design concept to come out of the Ford Engineering Department. It was not a show car but an engineering test bed.

36 The car was modified by the legendary George Barris for remote control operation of the doors, hood, and trunk for a movie. It stayed with Paramount Pictures for a while showing up in various TV shows and movies.

37 The 1955 Mercury D-528 appeared in an episode of the TV show Outer Limits aired in 1964 shown here. Season 2, Episode 13 “The Duplicate Man” takes place in 2025. Car was painted Silver for the show.

38 Beldone as it is sometimes called was the stage name selected by Paramount Pictures for the trick car’s appearance in the 1964 Jerry Lewis movie, “The Patsy”.


Video and audio clips

1955 MERCURY D528


Cool Cars: Futuristic '55 Mercury D528


1955 Mercury D528 "Beldone"


Jay Leno and 1955 Mercury D528


Mercury D 528 Beldone 1955



Related

More Cars of the 1950s
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Comments

Mario on Feb 3, 2024 said:

The 1955 Mercury D-528 was a car developed by Ford Engineering to test various ideas that were new and even wild at the time.

It was Ford’s experimental rolling laboratory. Many revolutionary ideas came from this rest bed and others were dropped.

Check out all facts about this test car in my Page. The 1955 Mercury D-528 was never destroyed. It is on display at the Petersen Auto Museum in California.

This is my Tribute to the 1955 Mercury D-528, Enjoy, Mario

[Reply to this comment]

Anonymous on Feb 3, 2024 said:

Well look who is at it again posting yet another Concept Car? This one is different...most different.

Of course the first thing that jumps out at me is the Rear Fender whatchamacallits.

Take them off put some nice Cadillac Fins in their place, turn off the lights and call it done.

Very unique Mario as I see it is a rolling laboratory.

I see the sliding rear window and where that ended up on some cars. The pillarless windshield, nice touch.

Like me, the nose is too long or big. Just out of proportion on the car. Mine? Let's not go there and no Jimmie Durante jokes either.

The car was a star I see in TV..more than I can say. I have a face for radio or so I've been told.

Well nice thread Mario...now get back to the internet and continue on young man. If you won't do it for me, do it for the children. And after all we all are still kids, inside, right?

Blessings....... Anonymous Rob.

[Reply to this comment]

Mario on Feb 3, 2024 said:

Thank you Rob for all your insights and tongue in cheek accolades. Very amusing and very interesting. And yes it was not a Concept car but rather an engineering experimental test on wheels.

Some items were not used but others were on this car. Remember it was back in 1955 before the internet, social media even TV was new. Marketing was in its infancy and the big car companies were trying to find out what the public really wanted going forward.

All in all I think it was a nice looking car Except for the 2 humps in back. I would rather have seen some nice fins like you said instead. Cheers to you my friend. Mario.

[Reply to this comment]

Mario on Feb 11, 2024 said:

Added new video on Mercury D-528 developed by Ford Engineering to test various ideas that were new and even wild at the time.

It was built to test advanced concepts in seating, lighting, air conditioning and front frame design.

[Reply to this comment]

Mario on Apr 3, 2024 said:

I colorized the B/W pictures

[Reply to this comment]


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