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Ford unearths a forgotten off-roader that never existed

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Ford unearths a forgotten off-roader that never existed


Although the Henry Ford Museum is one of the largest of its kind in the world, it is still not large enough to publicly display all the cars. Located in Dearborn, Michigan, the building has a storage facility with restricted access. However, Higher speed was allowed to discover the Blue Oval’s secret stash of cars, including the Alpe.

what was that? The original concept started out as a Ford Escort before Ghia transformed it into a small, boxy crossover that would have predated the Pontiac Aztek by several years. It was originally presented in 1996 at the now defunct Turin Auto Show and was later exhibited with a slightly different design at the 1998 Detroit Auto Show. A few years later, BMW sold Land Rover to Ford, giving it access to a small off-roader in the form of the Freelander.

Alpe was designed with a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated gasoline engine and four-wheel drive. It had a raised suspension with generous ground clearance and 17-inch wheels. Ford gave it a brown dashboard, a translucent plexiglass roof and a seat covering partly made from recycled soda bottles.

The late Ross Roberts, who was Ford division general manager at the time, said the intention behind Alpe was to gauge consumer reaction to a small crossover priced around $20,000. Ford wanted to go toe-to-toe with the CR-V and RAV4, but it wasn’t until 2001 that the first-generation Escape was released. The smaller EcoSport was released a few years later, although the US market didn’t get it until 2018.

In hindsight, Alpe was probably a missed opportunity given the rise of SUVs in the decades that followed. It also looked less stupid than the Aztek. Then again, the Escort had been nearing the end of its life cycle since the Focus entered the lineup in the early 2000s. The original Escape co-developed with Mazda gave Ford the smaller crossover that he needed it, so Alpe ultimately never happened.

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