Envisioned first in the last century and work started by a Wisconsin based blacksmith, a four-wheel drive car has become a necessity for many vehicles we see today. Harry Armenius Miller and Harry Ferguson both believed that their development would be popular in the future.
The first 4WD car was built in 1903, but it wasn’t until the early 1980’s that this unique concept came into series production. Many road cars such as the Jensen FF, Cisitalia 47 and the early 70’s prototypes of Formula one cars used this concept. But the manufacturer which had immense faith in the concept and wanted to make it an integral part of it production range was Audi with its Quattro model. The Quattro received proper attention to details and investment in research and development and marketing back up too, which boosted its early career as an unique vehicle package.
Harry Ferguson, a man ahead of his times in the 50’s undertook the task of convincing the petrolheads around the world about the advantages of all-wheel drive for road cars, which he believed increased the safety and efficiency. And yes it did. People were attracted but give a thought to it after knowing about the concept. Ferguson started building prototypes of a sedan with four wheel drive system and all independent suspension.
Engine mounted at the front with semi-automatic transmission and Dunlop’s Maxaret anti-skid system brakes. In 1965, Jensen went into production with the Interceptor FF, a car working on Ferguson’s technology, using an uneven torque split of 63% rear and 37% front. FF (Ferguson Formula) Developments, a British firm in 1972 built 2 prototypes for Fiat which weren’t an instant hit, but with passing of time they used the principal of the epicyclic differential for both the Lancia Delta Turbo 4 x 4 and the Fiat Panda 4 x 4.
The mechanical complexity of a 4WD system was designed to extract the maximum from a car, which it did. The unique concept of Ferguson showed that there was almost no limit to the search for perfection in a four-wheel drive configuration.