10 YEARS AGO — 2001 A vehicle interior designed for you: Kion, an automotive interior concept from Johnson Controls Inc., Plymouth, Mich., aims to make vehicle interiors more like home. The interior is decked out in warm colors and sports an electronic communication center between the four seats that is adaptable via data-storage cards that can plug into its computer. Infotainment-system communication pillars sit on either side of the instrument panel and the rear seat. Each passenger gets a pillar, which can hold a display monitor, as well as a microphone, loudspeakers, laptop computer, and ports for connecting electronic notepads. A video-entertainment system lets rear-seat passengers watch TV, play video games, or surf the Internet.
30 YEARS AGO — 1981 Race car getting a graphite-fiber chassis: A graphite-fiber chassis has been built for a Forumula-1 Grand Prix race car by Hercules Inc. In addition to significant weight reduction, the chassis maximizes ground effect to help the car reach higher velocities. Designed with the aid of FEA, the structure is narrower than its aluminum counterparts and can carry larger venturi-shaped side pods for greater downward forces from ground effects. The chassis is 35% lighter and 50% stronger under torsional loads. The finished chassis will be incorporated into a new Formula-1 design developed by McLaren International Co.
50 YEARS AGO — 1961 Ford’s first two-wheeler, the Gyron, would depend on a 2-ft-diameter gyroscope for stabilization. Other unusual features proposed for this delta-shaped dream car are a built-in computer (useful in programming journeys on nonstop highways) and power from fuel cells. Changing drivers in the Gyron could be accomplished without even slowing down: The foot bar in front of each contoured seat has a brake and accelerator pad, and steering is done with a dial instead of a wheel.