The Car of Future Past - Ford Windstar Solutions
The Ford Windstar Solutions concept was displayed in 2000 and it may just be the car of the future...sort of.
The world in the year 2000 was a very different place...the entire population had just survived the dreaded millennium bug, there hadn't been a single Fast & Furious movie and Tiger Woods was the talk of the golfing world (wait...scratch that last one!). The car world was especially different, with the focus (mostly) on actually driving a car rather than who had the biggest touchscreen or the most Wifi hotspot connections.
One concept car had a vision of what the future may hold though; the Ford Windstar Solutions. A joint-project between Ford and Maytag, it was not displayed at car shows, but at the 2000 One-of-a-Kind Show in Toronto, Canada, and then at the Kitchen and Bath Show in Chicago. That may be a hint for those who aren't sure what a 'Maytag' is - it's a home appliances company based in the USA that is now owned by Whirlpool. To explain why a home appliances company were involved in making a concept car...there was a call from Maytag to Ford about a potential project and the Windstar Solutions was the brainchild of Linda Lee, Manager of Ford Women's Marketing and Product office.
Research at the time showed that people were struggling to deal with many different lifestyle demands and it was especially true for working mothers who were constantly on the go. Ford and Maytag came up with a concept car that would allow families to do it all within the confines of a family MPV...and the Windstar Solutions therefore included all sorts of home-style appliances, including a microwave, two refrigerators, a washer/dryer, wet/dry vacuum, trash compactor and a cooler, amongst others.
The Windstar Solutions was full of...solutions...such as a microwave, hoover and refrigerators
Whilst all the above features could likely be seen in any motor home for the past however-many-decades, it was another feature that should have stood out for the Windstar - a home connection. While only a conceptual idea at the time, Ford were onto something as the idea was that the driver could remain connected to their home. This meant they could pre-heat the oven, monitor home security or check food stock levels. On the move the system would be voice controlled, or while in park there would be a touchscreen to use.
It seems normal now to be able to be in such control of things at home from wherever you are in the world...but in 2000 this would have been an almost alien concept. The technology wasn't really there at the time, so it's no real surprise that the Windstar Solutions remained a concept...but the ideas were fresh and forward-thinking.
Everything these days is about staying connected - you can access a camera on your front door from the other side of the world to accept packages, or pre-warm your Range Rover on the driveway on a cold morning. But this was 2000, the year the Nokia 3310 was released. The idea of a device in your hands that could connect to everything around the world was in it's infancy, but Ford and Maytag recognised the need for an instant connection and built that ability into a concept car. It would take years before this sort of thing was a reality, at least for a vehicle that 'normal' people were supposed to own.
Yep that's a built-in N64! But the focus should have been on the home-connection, an impressive concept in 2000
Oh and we've saved the best bit 'til last...the Windstar Solutions had a built-in Nintendo N64. Forget the rest of the features and the vision of an internet-connected world, you could play Goldeneye on tiny screens in a car. That alone should have ensured the car went into production!
We think the Windstar Solutions may have seen the internet-age coming from a mile off, but was it really that forward-thinking? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!