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Here are five interesting, true facts about the Ford “hemp car,” also frequently referred to as the “soybean car.”

1. The hemp panels making up the car’s body could withstand impact 10 times stronger than steel. According to a spread in Popular Mechanics at the time of the prototype’s release, the strength of the hemp-derived plastics used to build the car made it incredibly safe, much more so than other automobiles of the era,

2. The car was designed to run on hemp fuel. One of the many uses of industrial hemp is that it can be distilled into environmentally friendly, sustainable fuel. As early as the 1940s, the technology was in place to make cars that did not need to run on nonrenewable resources, such as oil and gasoline, but rather on plants, which could be cultivated as necessary.

3. The “hemp car” was much lighter than its steel counterparts. The original Popular Mechanics article noted that the hemp prototype weighed just 2,000 pounds, compared to 3,000 pounds for a traditional steel automobile. The only steel present in the prototype was the welded frame, onto which plastic hemp panels were fitted. This lighter weight had a vast impact on fuel efficiency.

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