I wish I knew.1997 Mercury MC4 concept interior

I’m sure there were clinics and focus groups that concluded the sales case wasn’t there. I suppose I struggle with the implication that consumers were uninterested. Granted, the sales performance of the aforementioned production coupes didn’t exactly help the case; which could be argued, however, was less a result of the system’s merits than consumer indifference to the cars it was deployed on.

Entry methods aside, take a look at that interior. Very clean but not simplistic. Sort of a contemporary take on plush. All the “touch areas” (which Ford defines as those coming into contact with the driver or passengers) are either soft leather or fabric. Trim details and “functional items” (defined as button controls and instrumentation) are made of real metals, including brushed nickel-chrome plating.

The aluminum-framed bucket seats, with integrated seat belts, reportedly took their single-piece design inspiration from those found in aircraft. And just how many seats do you think the MC4 comes equipped with? Would you believe 4.5? Built-in between the two rear buckets is a fold out child seat.

There is button located on the console that not only starts the engine but also activates three cameras: two at the base of the A-pillars (in place of outside mirrors) and one mounted underneath the rear spoiler. Views from the left and right cameras are displayed on small monitors that rise from the instrument panel, at the base of the A-pillars.

1997 Mercury MC4 concept interior

The center-mounted camera’s image and GPS are displayed on a monitor located where the rearview mirror would normally be located. It looks a little chunky by today’s standards but in 1997 my computer’s CRT was about the size of a washing machine.

There is another monitor built in to the console for rear seat passengers which also pops up from a hidden default position. That same console includes cup holders that can keep your beverages warm or cold.

The gauge cluster, steering column, foot rest and foot pedals are all adjustable. In the event the driver neglects to use the MC4’s pedals, it is armed with an adaptive speed control system that will adjust the speed relative to that of the car in front of it. If that system fails, the MC4 includes RESCU, the Remote Emergency Satellite Cellular Unit, to alert someone about your plight.

1997 Mercury MC4 concept
From certain angles, inside and out, I’ve noticed a vector-type symmetry to the design. That’s possibly a byproduct of the limitations of early computer design software. From the mid to late 1990s, as computers were playing an increasing role in automotive design, it could sometimes seem as if the machines were going to limit the artistic end of the process. Those concerns are long since forgotten.

If this concept was long since forgotten, or maybe not seen before, I hope I did it justice.

I’d like to thank Ford Motor Company for contributing materials for this effort (and indirectly Motor Trend which, based on one image, appears to have provided FMC with some of the archive pictures.)

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