TBT: Ford Introduces Fairlane Concept in 2005

This week, Ford said goodbye to the unconventional Ford Flex after more than a decade of production. The retro-styled crossover wagon was first introduced to the world as the Fairlane concept vehicle at the 2005 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Named to invoke the splendor of Henry Ford’s Fair Lane estate in Dearborn, the vehicle was designed to embrace that same spirit while reimaging what a people-mover could be.

The spacious Fairlane featured an aircraft-inspired three-zone interior with upright roof pillars that helped create minivan-size interior space by stretching the vehicle upward toward an all-glass roof. Other memorable traits included a three-way tailgate, as well as a “rolling kitchen” – the vehicle’s rear door contained a flip-down utility area with a refrigerator, cutting surface and utensils – for family meal prep on the go.

That thinking carried over into the production unit, as the Flex could be ordered, for a time, with a functional refrigerator in the console between the second-row seats. The compressor-driven refrigerator could cool up to seven 12-ounce cans even faster than its full-sized home counterpart.

The integration into everyday family life was further evidenced by the Fairlane’s triple-hinged rear door, which opened in each direction, while the flipglass section opened upward, offering more ways to conveniently load cargo. “French-opening” doors also offered maximum access to the front and rear seating areas.

The Fairlane was an all-wheel drive application of the company's then-new mid-size CD3 architecture, the first people-mover concept built on the platform previously used in the 2006 Ford Fusion and Lincoln Zephyr mid-size sedans.

Introduced in 2008, the production model Flex built a loyal following, going on to sell nearly 300,000 units.

Share your favorite memory of the Ford Flex in the comments!

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