1. Health & Lifestyle

Do You Know About the “Soybean Car”

Abhijeet Banerjee
Abhijeet Banerjee

The "Soybean Car" is actually a plastic-bodied car developed by Henry Ford on August 13, 1941. According to the archives from The New York Times dated, 1941 the car body and fenders were made from a strong material derived from soy beans, wheat and corn.

One of the articles even claimed that they were made from a chemical formula that, among many other ingredients, included soybeans, wheat, hemp, flax and ramie. On the other hand, Mr. Lowell E Overly, the man behind creation of this car, claimed that the materials mainly comprised soybean fiber in a phenolic resin with formaldehyde used in the impregnation. 

As the body of this car was lighter, it had the advantage of efficient fuel consumption when compared with a normal metal-bodied car. As per the Henry Ford Museum records, Ford's decision to make a plastic car made from soybeans and agricultural products was based on the idea of integrating industry with agriculture. The decision was also based on claims of the plastic, making these cars safer than normal metal cars, in addition to minimizing the chances of being crushed.  

However one cannot be sure about the exact ingredients of the plastic due to lack of any records, in context to the plastic itself. There were speculations that it was a combination of soybeans, wheat, hemp, flax and ramie. Unfortunately production of this automobile was suspended totally after the outbreak of World War II. As a result the plastic car experiments also came to a halt. A second unit was in production at the time the war broke out, but the project was abandoned. By the time World War II ended, the idea of a plastic car had lost its significance.  

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