Jerry Lewis had last laugh

Con­cept car, with funny bits all over, never made the show­room floor but it did end up in a Hol­ly­wood com­edy

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE - DAVID BURRELL

ONE of the least known of Ford’s mid-1950s con­cept cars is the “Beldone”, or Mer­cury D-528.

The name D-528 stemmed from the fact it was the 528th ex­per­i­men­tal “de­sign” project at Ford.

The D-528 was built in 195354 to test ad­vanced ideas for air­con­di­tion­ing, seat­ing lay­outs, door open­ing con­fig­u­ra­tions, light­ing, in­te­rior and ex­te­rior crash ab­sorp­tion, four-door pil­lar­less hard­top con­struc­tion, head­light ar­range­ments and a wind-down rear wind­screen.

The can­tilever roof was self-sup­port­ing be­cause the car had no “A” pil­lars at the front.

The fuel tank and spare tyre were lo­cated in the rear mud­guards.

Fully op­er­a­tional, the orange D-528 fea­tured an ex­per­i­men­tal ver­sion of the yet-to-be-re­leased Y block V8 linked to a two-speed au­to­matic.

The car was never seen by the pub­lic and re­mained be­hind closed doors at Ford un­til the early 1960s when it was sold to Ge­orge Bar­ris, the famed Los An­ge­les car cus­tomiser.

Bar­ris con­vinced Ford he could gar­ner them pub­lic­ity by hav­ing the D-528 ap­pear in movies and TV shows.

In 1964, when Paramount Pic­tures needed a spe­cial car for its Jerry Lewis movie The Patsy, Bar­ris showed them the D-528. Paramount ex­ec­u­tives said, “Yes, that’s the one we need!” and the car was painted bright red and rechris­tened as the “Beldone”.

‘The car was never seen by the pub­lic

and re­mained be­hind closed doors

at Ford un­til the early 1960s when it was sold to Ge­orge Bar­ris, the famed Los An­ge­les car

cus­tomiser.’

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