Hemp body car Henry Ford

Henry Ford and the Hemp Machine

Have you ever heard of a car made from hemp fiber? And that he uses hemp ethanol instead of petrol? Then maybe you should find out the story of Henry Ford. Yes, he was the inventor of the Ford who at a certain point in his career, discovering the multiple properties of hemp, decided to invest and invent a revolutionary car.

Specifically we will talk about:

  1. Henry Ford a hemp pioneer
  2. Hemp body car
  3. Cannabis prohibition

Why consume forests that have taken centuries to grow and mines that have taken entire geological eras to establish, if we can obtain the equivalent of forest and mineral products from the annual growth of hemp fields ?”

Henry Ford.

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We live in an era of great changes: biblical migrations, new forms of war, great technological innovations. But there is a change that concerns us all and it is that of the climate: the planet is overheating, the glaciers are melting. The main culprit in this process is Carbon Dioxide, also called CO2, produced by human activities and responsible for 70% of the so-called greenhouse effect.

A change is also felt in the financial and productive world. Many industries are directing their research towards products whose production, use and disposal can reduce or even eliminate CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The automotive market is probably the one that has invested the most in this research. Renew Sport Car , a Florida automotive company, recently created a sports car with a body made of 100% hemp fibers. And which can be powered by biodiesel or ethanol.

Henry Ford a hemp pioneer

It seems like a great innovation but if we go back about seventy years, still in America, we find someone who had already thought of it.

In 1925 the New York Times published a statement by Henry Ford. The genius of the American car, the visionary entrepreneur who, through the invention of the assembly line, had made the car accessible to the pockets of Americans says this:

The fuel of the future is going to come from fruit, from the road or apples, from weeds, from sawdust, in short, from almost everything. There is fuel in every plant matter that can be fermented and provide nutrition. There is enough alcohol in one year's yield of a potato field to drive the machinery needed to cultivate the fields for a hundred years."

His words suggest the skills and will to design an ecological car powered by alternative fuels. A project as risky as it is ambitious. But Ford does not limit himself to statements and combines his undoubted entrepreneurial skills with his passion for the land (he was still the son of farmers).

Cannabis flower

And he decided to create a car that "came out of the earth" . It engages its best engineers in this research who, after twelve years of studies, give life to the most ecological car ever seen. It's the Hemp Body Car, the car with a hemp body. The prototype was presented to the public in 1941 at the Dearborn Days Festival in Dearborn, Michigan, Ford's hometown.

Hemp Body Car

The external structure is made entirely of hemp fiber plastic, biodegradable and ten times lighter than cars with steel bodies. Not only lighter than traditional cars, but also much more resistant . To demonstrate this, a video was filmed, still visible today on You Tube, in which Ford is seen giving vigorous blows to the back of the car without any break-in resulting.

Having a body made of natural material , which could easily be burned at the end of its life avoiding the multiplication of car cemeteries, was already an excellent result for a car company. But what makes the Hemp Body car a 100% eco project is contained in its interior. The car is powered by hemp ethanol , a fuel with zero impact on the environment obtained by distilling the seeds of the plant.

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This is clearly a revolutionary car, a project that still maintains its potential and charm intact today. But despite this the Hemp Body Car will never be put on the market . For what reasons was it never produced and placed on the market?

Cannabis prohibition

It was 1941, the Second World War was in full swing, car production in the United States was drastically decreasing in favor of war production. Is it therefore the fault of the inflexible laws of the market and the economy? Perhaps one of the causes can be traced back to the death of Henry Ford which occurred in 1947. Only six years after the presentation of the prototype of the Hemp Body Car? And why didn't his heirs continue the project?

Perhaps there are other reasons more specifically attributable to the influence of the nascent oil industry . Perhaps the truest reason is to be found in the economic-political process that has led oil to be the fuel of great financial power. Capable of not favoring the real functionality of one technology over another, but exclusively supporting the interests and political strategies of the large oil and steel lobbies.

Yet hemp represents the plant with the highest yield per hectare, it grows lush and fast even in unfavorable climatic conditions. It is a woody plant that contains 77% cellulose. Precisely because of its high yield in plant mass, hemp is ideal for the production of biomass fuels such as ethanol, today considered the fuel of the future.

Ford was a visionary who saw far, but his project was too inconvenient for the oil and steel empires. Both for the countries that produced it and for the large companies that traded it. The supremacy of the oil lobbies was also manifested with the approval of laws which first heavily taxed and then banned the cultivation of hemp throughout the United States. Giving rise to what is remembered as " cannabis prohibitionism ".


Thus the revolutionary and far-sighted Hemp Body Car project was abandoned and forgotten. The only existing prototype is said to have been destroyed after Ford's death by the head of its car design department, one Eugene Turenne Gregorie . Who then, at the age of just thirty-eight, resigned from Ford General Motor .

One wonders what has changed in all these years and how much the power of oil monopolies can still influence the markets. Certainly the widespread concern for the future of the planet is opening up some glimmers of light and a large part of the industry is turning towards a more ecological world. Or perhaps ecology is becoming an attractive market for big capital too.

And perhaps hemp could be one of the key elements of this change. What is certain is that the Hemp Body Car project, after more than seventy years, is more current and innovative than ever.

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