Clock stolen from Detroit train depot returned to Ford

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In purchasing Michigan Central Station after three decades of abandonment and vandalism, Ford inherits a former train depot that is missing many of its once-grand architectural flourishes. But thanks to a charitable thief, it’s just re-acquired a stolen antique clock that hung for decades above an entryway.

The Detroit Free Press reports that The Henry Ford museum in neighboring Dearborn got a call late last week saying that the depot clock wanted to “go home,” and immediately notified contacts at Ford Land and The Ford Archives. Ford officials then contacted the donor, who told them the clock had been missing for more than 20 years “and is ready to go home.” He told them to send a truck and two men to load it, and shared its location, saying he left the clock leaning against a burned-out building about 2 miles from the train station.

Ford maintenance workers offered to stop and grab it in their truck on their way home from work, the Freepreports. They found it carefully wrapped in moving blankets and tape in an overgrown lot. Ford later confirmed the clock’s authenticity through photos and chemistry examination.

The clock’s future is uncertain; it could be returned to the wall and used as a working clock, or displayed as an building artifact as part of a display about the building’s history.

The story illustrates the profound emotional pull of the building, which first opened in 1913, welcomed waves of overseas immigrants to then-booming Detroit, sent soldiers to two world wars and survived the Great Depression. The presumed thief who returned the clock later texted Ford officials, saying “Thank you so much. I loved that clock and I loved that station.”

Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. says the automaker plans to renovate the soaring lobby area and the 18-story tower in an environmentally friendly way, and he’s gone to great pains to say Ford wants to be seen as a good neighbor in the rapidly gentrifying Corktown neighborhood. Dave Dubensky, chairman and CEO of Ford Land, tells the Freepthe company is encouraging others who might have pieces of the train station’s history who want to return them to the company to contact Ford, no questions asked.

[Source: Autoblog]

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Ford previews plans for Michigan Central Station, won’t only be for Ford

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Ford has announced that it has indeed purchased the long-abandoned Michigan Central Station, and it will have full details on its plans for the building coming this week. In the meantime, the company released a few basic details, as well as some concept renderings, about what will happen with the structure. As it turns out, it won’t solely be a Ford facility.

Ford revealed that the former train station will be a mixed-use facility. Space will be available for other companies to use as office space or even to open shops. Based on the renderings, it looks like Ford wants parts of the building to be a sort of marketplace or mini shopping mall. Apparently there will even be residential space in the completed building. We suspect that will be some pretty pricey real estate.

Of course the station will house Ford employees, too. Ford says that 2,500 employees will be moved to the new facility by 2022, and most of them will be from mobility departments. This makes some sense, since the company already relocated an electric and autonomous vehicle team to an office just down the street from the old station. Odds are these various teams will work together at least occasionally, so it would make sense to have them located close to each other.

These are just broad details about the facility. The company will have more specifics this week, so stay tuned.

Junkyard Gem: 1979 Ford Ranchero 500

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For the 1957 model year, Ford made a pickup truck based in its Custom Sedan full-size car, called it the Ranchero, and sales success followed. For 1960, the Ranchero went to the much smaller Falcon platform, with each successive generation of Ranchero growing a bit as the years passed. For 1977, Ford put the Ranchero on the same platform as the massive Thunderbird, with the front bodywork from the LTD II. The result was a comfy-riding personal luxury coupe with a truck bed, and sales were brisk. Here’s a used-up ’79 in a Northern California self-service wrecking yard.

[Source: Autoblog]

Famous 1966 Le Mans Ford GT40 to be auctioned in August

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One of the most important Ford GT40s built is coming up for auction. The car carrying the chassis number P/1016 was one of the GT40s raced at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, where Ford secured its first Le Mans victory with a 1-2-3 finish. After 348 laps, the car wearing the number 5 finished third, driven by Americans Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson; the two cars ahead were driven by Bruce McLaren/Chris Amon and Ken Miles/Denny Hulme.

You might have seen this very car in an episode of The Grand Tour, which dedicated a segment on the GT40’s troubled birth and eventual Le Mans success. After Le Mans ’66, P/1016 was also raced in Daytona in 1967 and used for Le Mans testing that year, before being retired from competition usage. It was thoroughly restored back to its 1966 guise in 2003, and ever since it’s appeared at events such as Le Mans Classic, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it won the People’s Choice award in 2003.

P/1016 will be auctioned at RM Sotheby’s California auction in Monterey at the end of August, but before that it will be displayed for two weeks at Sotheby’s New York headquarters, starting on June 21. The car is estimated to bring in $9 million to $12 million, reflecting its legendary status among GT40s.

[Source: Autoblog]

Taste test: Ford plans real-world trial of self-driving food delivery van

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The future of self-driving vehicles isn’t just for passengers, Ford sees it as being for food, too. The company revealed that it has developed a self-driving Ford Transit Connect van for delivering food orders to hungry customers. The vehicle will be used in conjunction with the Postmates delivery service. The pilot program will be in Miami and Miami Beach, Florida.

How the system works: When someone orders food from a participating restaurant, they’ll have the option of getting their order delivered in this self-driving Transit Connect. The restaurant will then place the order in one of the van’s many lockers. The van then travels on its merry way to its destination. The customer receives a text message saying the order has arrived, along with a code to access the appropriate locker. The customer then heads out to the van, looks for the right locker, inputs the code on a touchpad, and grabs the grub.

Ford says this program is helping the company prepare a purpose-built self-driving car for introduction in 2021. It will be interesting to see if this program is a success or not. Aside from the technology hurdles of self-driving cars, will people actually like this service? After all, one of the perks of having something delivered is that the delivery person comes right up to your door. You don’t have to leave your house to walk over to a van and extract your food. Time will tell.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford and VW are in talks to develop and build vehicles together

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Volkswagen and Ford are in preliminary talks over an alliance to develop and produce products, most likely starting with commercial transporter vans.

An announcement from Ford on Tuesday came after Volkswagen’s supervisory board gave its managers a green light to strike a deal with U.S.-based Ford.

The goal is a partnership to share development and production costs. Preliminary talks have already been held, a source said.

The potential projects could span “a number of areas,” Ford’s announcement said, including commercial vans.

“Ford is committed to improving our fitness as a business and leveraging adaptive business models – which include working with partners to improve our effectiveness and efficiency,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s president of Global Markets. “This potential alliance with the Volkswagen Group is another example of how we can become more fit as a business, while creating a winning global product portfolio and extending our capabilities.

“We look forward to exploring with the Volkswagen team in the days ahead how we might work together to better serve the evolving needs of commercial vehicle customers – and much more.”

Dr. Thomas Sedran, head of strategy for Volkswagen Group, said, “Markets and customer demand are changing at an incredible speed. Both companies have strong and complementary positions in different commercial vehicle segments already. To adapt to the challenging environment, it is of utmost importance to gain flexibility through alliances. This is a core element of our Volkswagen Group Strategy 2025. The potential industrial cooperation with Ford is seen as an opportunity to improve competitiveness of both companies globally.”

2018 Ford Explorer Buying Guide | Your 3-row crossover questions, answered

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Sport utility vehicles defined the 1990s, and Ford helped usher them into mass-market acceptance with popular SUVs like the Explorer. First introduced for the 1991 model year as a replacement for the Bronco II, the midsize, three-row Explorer is now in its fifth generation. Though it trails the compact Ford Escape crossover in sales, it remains one of the best-selling vehicles in the lucrative and popular SUV segment.

Ford offers the Explorer in XLT, Limited, Sport, and Platinum trim levels. The standard engine is a 3.5-liter V6, though there are turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder and 3.5-liter V6 options as well (more on those below). All come paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, and four-wheel drive is available across the range.

Ford gave the Explorer a mild refresh for 2018, with new tech like an embedded 4G modem with Wi-Fi hotspot that can support up to 10 devices, and new Safe and Smart Package safety features.

This buyer’s guide aims to help you make an educated decision about whether or not to buy the 2018 Ford Explorer. We’ll touch on safety and reliability ratings, engine specs, horsepower, fuel economy ratings and pricing, and we’ll conclude with a summary of Autoblog’s most recent test-drive of the Explorer.

Ford Explorer safety ratings

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2018 Ford Explorer five stars, the best rating possible, for both overall crash protection and front- and side-crash protection. It awarded the SUV four stars in its rollover crash testing.

Ford earns mostly “good” ratings for the 2018 Explorer from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But it gets a “marginal” mark for driver-side small overlap front crashes, a test that replicates a vehicle clipping an object on either of its front corners. It also gets a “poor” rating for its headlights, one of IIHS’ newer areas of focus.

Ratings may differ for Explorers from other model years, so be sure to visit the NHTSA and IIHS websites to review ratings on the specific vehicle you’re researching.

Is the Ford Explorer reliable?

J.D. Power most recently evaluated the 2017 Explorer and gave it four out of five stars — “better than most” — for overall quality, and three stars (“about average”) for overall performance and design, and predicted reliability. It gave high marks to powertrain and transmission and substandard marks for mechanical issues with the body and interior, and features and accessories.

Autoblog, we should note, has raised some concerns with how J.D. Power weighs serious and less-serious reliability issues. You can read about that here.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported no recalls of the 2018 Ford Explorer.

How much interior and cargo room does the Ford Explorer have?

The 2018 Explorer offers 41.4 inches of headroom in the front, 40.6 in the rear and 37.8 in the third row. For legroom, those figures are 42.9 inches, 39.5 and 33.3, respectively.

Cargo room is 81.7 cubic feet behind the first row, with the second- and third-row seats folded down, 43.9 cubic feet behind the second row and 21 cubic feet behind the third row.

Ford Explorer engine specs and horsepower

The standard engine is a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. Also available are a 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged inline-four cylinder that offers 280 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, plus a 3.5-liter EcoBoost turbo V6 with output of 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque.

Maximum towing capacity is rated at 5,000 pounds, which is sufficient for smaller boats or campers.

How fuel efficient is the 2018 Ford Explorer?

Fuel economy varies by engine and other factors. The standard 3.5-liter V6 gets 17 miles per gallon in the city, 24 on the highway, and 20 mpg combined.

The most efficient is the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, which delivers 19 miles per gallon in the city, 27 on the highway and 22 combined. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 gets 16/22/18.

When filled with E85 fuel, fuel economy drops to 13/18/15 mpg in the 3.5-liter V6 in front-wheel drive and 12/16/14 mpg in the four-wheel drive version.

How much does the Ford Explorer cost?

The 2018 Ford Explorer starts at $33,135, while the Platinum model starts at $54,935. Both prices include the $995 destination charge.

Use Autoblog’s Smart Car Buying program powered by TrueCar to search out competitive local pricing and savings on the 2018 Ford Explorer.

Autoblog Ford Explorer review

Autoblog last reviewed the 2016 Explorer, the model that launched the current generation. Consumer Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski concluded that “Ford has cornered a sweet spot with its Explorer, offering enough SUV-like credibility to lure buyers into the showroom, enough options, creature comforts and smart packages to keep them there, and enough value to convinced them to drive one home. None of that changes for 2016, which means the Explorer is still the best car-like, three-row ‘ute on the market.”