You’ve probably read our story about finding Ford’s long-lost Big Red truck by now—if you haven’t, now is a good time to do so. Part of that article included a promotional film posted to Youtube by PeriscopeFilm about the project, but it was of pretty low quality. And, as it turns out, missing around a minute of footage.
Since the publication of our article, Ford has shared restored and more complete footage with us. The original footage in Ford’s possession had apparently developed a strong red tint, which was corrected in post-processing. The extra minute of the story shines a little more light on the development of the project and gives a clearer view of how the truck’s “705” turbine engine worked.
The extra bit of quality and minute of the film also shines a light on one of the characters from our story; John Stopa. It becomes how clear how heavily he was involved with the project, and now we can see that he’s basically the star of this film.
Stopa is the guy in the nice sweater driving the truck, and in the new scenes, he’s seen working on the truck’s 705 engine as well as overseeing its installation. You can get an idea of just how massive the truck’s engine is once it’s actually installed in the vehicle. It’s much larger than the later 707 which now sits in the engine bay of Big Red.
For those who don’t know, Big Red was an experimental, turbine-powered semi-truck made by Ford in the mid-1960s. It was powered by a 600-horsepower turbine engine, was featured alongside the new Mustang at the 1964 World’s Fair, and completed a nationwide tour before slowly drifting into obscurity. After going missing in the ’80s, we found it earlier this year and wrote about its history.
A key part of that history was Stopa, who was the caretaker of the project at Ford and an engineer with a keen enthusiasm for turbine engines. When the truck was being restored in the 1980s—unbeknownst to pretty much anyone—Stopa was the one who was called down to oversee the repairs and modifications done to the vehicle to make it driveable again. You can see him in his thirties in the film above, and in his fifties in the image below when the truck was being restored by its current owner.
If you’re hungry for more Big Red content or more information about the people who worked on the truck, don’t worry, more is definitely on the way. We’ve received a ton of tips and valuable contacts since the last story was published. For now, though, enjoy this restored film courtesy of Ford.
Know anything else about Big Red’s past, or tips on other long-lost concept cars? Contact the author directly: [email protected]
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