Henry Ford Built a Hemp Car That Ran on Hemp Fuel 80 Years Ago

Henry Ford built a car out of hemp plastic that ran on hemp fuel almost a century ago. Why aren’t we driving it today?

A year ago, Jay Leno featured a story about “the world’s first carbon-negative car” made of hemp plastic. The body of the car is lighter than fiberglass, ten times stronger than steel and can run on  recycled agricultural waste:

“The ultimate goal Jay is to introduce the world’s first carbon-negative vehicle, and the key to that is going back to what Henry Ford advocated back in 1941, and that’s the idea to make everything you possibly can, including your fuels, out of plant material,” investor Bruce Dietzen says.

The carbon footprint of manufacturing a standard car is 10 tons. Because hemp sequesters carbon, the cars would be at least carbon-neutral, he reasons.

While Ford’s car wasn’t made entirely of hemp, it was one of the several plant ingredients in his 1941 bio-plastic Model T, and definitely the ingredient that made it tougher than steel:

The car ran on ethanol made from hemp or pretty much any agricultural waste.

The car was featured in Popular Mechanics Magazine and The New York Times:

But because growing hemp in the United States was essentially outlawed in 1937 because of its association with its THC-containing cousin, it was impractical for Ford to mass-produce vehicles that relied upon a steady supply of it.

If we’re lucky, the Hemp Farming Act will pass with this year’s farm bill, so Ford and Dietzen’s prototypes can revolutionize the auto industry.

“Why use up the forests, which were centuries in the making, and the mines, which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?” ~ Henry Ford

Henry Ford sitting in his own hemp fields.






33 responses to “Henry Ford Built a Hemp Car That Ran on Hemp Fuel 80 Years Ago”

  1. Cindy H Avatar
    Cindy H

    We need to support permanent legalization of hemp. I take hemp based CBD oil daily. It healed my hip of daily intense pain and inflammation due to a long bout of bursitis. It would be wonderful to know hemp would be available to future generations as well! I love the idea of getting off of fossil fuels and moving to hemp for plastics and fuel. Our eorld would be cleaner and healthier!

    1. Robert Avatar

      CBD doesn’t come from hemp.

      1. Shawn f buckendahl Avatar
        Shawn f buckendahl

        Yes it does. Research a topic prior to injecting opinion.

      2. CBD Ambassador Avatar

        Yes it does Robert. It can also come from marijuana, but it would contain much higher amounts of THC which would get you high. Hemp does not get you high. You can learn all about hemp derived CBD at the website link in this post.

      3. Stephen Avatar


        “Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid constituent of cannabis. It is one of at least 113 cannabinoids identified in hemp plants, accounting for up to 40% of the plant’s extract.[8]”


      4. Norma Sapp Avatar
        Norma Sapp

        CBD can come from either a hemp plant that is high in Cannabidiol or from the marijuana plant that has a THC content higher than 0.03%

      5. JMorgan Avatar

        The reason hemp is proscrbed in many countries is because of its relation to marijuana – basically the same plant, so marijuana cultivation can be disguised in hemp fields.

        1. eddie Avatar

          Actually no serious lover of Cannabis would grow their plants anywhere near a Hemp field as the cross pollination would kill the THC level. That, to my understanding, is just an old law enforcement myth propagated to deny Hemp as a competitor to several different textiles which/who sought a monopoly and restricted competition.

      6. John MacLean Avatar


        CBD most certainly can come from female hemp plants. I done some photography of a local farm. https://instagram.com/appalachiangrowers

      7. Stephanie Avatar

        Umm… yes, Mr. Robert. Yes it does.

      8. Jackie Avatar

        @ Robert , Yes in fact Hemp does contain CBD as long as its sourced from a food grade quality Hemp farm. Indstrial Hemp has cbd but not as much. Marijuana has even less although high levels of THC. One of the main components of hemp oil is a cannabinoid called cannabidiol or (CBD). This critical phytocannabinoid is actually found in hemp and known for supporting body and mind in many ways. One of the best that is created by the Doctors from WebMD is a product called Qfuse you can get it at http://www.happyhealth.myqsciences.com or I would also reccomend Kannapurecbd.com but its a bit pricier. Both companies are backed with science and medical professionals and are safe.

      9. Syris Metara Avatar

        Actually, CBD does come from Hemp. It is legal throughout the United States and Europe because it has almost untraceable amounts of THC, which is what makes other marijuana-derived CBD products illegal in many areas. You can learn more about organic, industrial hemp here: http://www.hempworxbizop.com/Organic_Hemp_CBD

      10. gus Avatar

        Yes it does.
        Mainly in the stems.
        Stay in school!
        Dont do drugs kid!
        The world is not flat, like you want it to be!

    2. Bill Avatar

      CBD does NOT come from hemp.

    3. Joan Hebert Avatar
      Joan Hebert

      Cindy thank you for sharing. May I ask how it’s used on your painful hip? Thanks you, joan

  2. J. Johns Avatar
    J. Johns

    hemp was outlawed due to dupont lobbying. They were beginning to make synthetic fabrics and wanted the hemp textile mills out of the way.

    1. Jo Avatar

      J. Johns you are 100% right! That would be my comment but you beat me to it!

  3. mike Avatar

    it seems like anything that would help to keep money in our pockets the Big Industrial Complex comes and stops any patent activities done by the inventers then gets the patent in their name and buries the item. Look what the big 3 Auto makers did to
    Tickets car which had most of the Safety Equipment in our cars today. One major thing is the headlights that track with the front tires so you can navigate curves and turns safer. I think it was one of the big German automakers that used them as a selling point recently .
    SMH over how we just keep letting them screw us.

    1. T B Avatar
      T B

      Your close friend. The name was Tuckers not Tickets. Was a great movie about this staring Jeff Bridges. All other facts are spot on.

  4. charly Avatar

    very encouraging

  5. Bruce Michael Dietzen Avatar

    Fords 1941 prototype expressed his vision that not only cars would be made mostly from crops like Hemp, but most everything else humans manufacture. Which was incredibly prescient because making everything from crops like hemp WILL BE THE #1 WAY TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE.

    How is that you ask? Plants absorb CO2 out of the atmosphere and fast growing plants like hemp absorb it really, really fast! That CO2 is the source of the Carbon that plants use for their structure. Dried plants are 45% carbon in fact! And every atom of carbon (atomic weight of 12) in plant is derived from an atmospheric molecule of CO2 (with an atomic weight of 44).

    Bottom line: Every pound of dried plant material use to make things removes 1.65 pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere (.45 x 44 / 12). For more details read the article “How Plants Like Hemp Will Save The Planet” found at http://www.renewsportscars.com. It’s an important article because it sheds light on how we can reduce CO2 in the atmosphere by more than 10 billion tonnes per year…and it is inevitable. We have no choice. We have to do it if we want our great grand children to live.

    A couple of notes about the article: Ford’s prototype was not a model T. The bodies on Model T’s were made of Vanadium steel. His 1941 “Hemp Car, according to my calculations had a lifetime carbon footprint of less than 5 metric tonnes of CO2 which is about 67 tonnes less than most cars today. If he had made his hemp fuel via pyrolysis instead of fermentation and plowed the biochar byproduct back into his fields his car would have had a lifetime carbon footprint of NEGATIVE 120 metric tonnes of CO2! This would have been a simple tweak even back then but the climate wasn’t a big issue yet.

    BTW, every gasoline powered car could have had a lifetime footprint of Negative 100 tonnes or more for the past 80 years but the Petroleum executives are literally so amoral that they don’t care if their own great grandchildren perish.


  6. Edd Bean Avatar
    Edd Bean

    Vote Blue and this could pass. This is the type of thinking we need in the world

      1. john Avatar

        hi you say the gop is backing this if so when did they start looking out for the average guy?

        1. Tbonius Avatar

          Since trump isn’t a Republican OR a democrat….just smart…and will sign ANY common sense

    1. John Avatar

      Thank goodness we have intellectuals like Judith. Occupy THAT!

  7. Rick Avatar

    What os the answer to the question posited in the title if the article?

    1. Roger Simmons Avatar
      Roger Simmons

      1937: Hemp was strictly regulated by the Marijuana Tax Act, largely due to confusion with other kinds of cannabis. Hemp could only be grown through specially issued government tax stamps, making any type of possession/transfer without a tax stamp illegal.

      1938: Popular Mechanics Magazine determines that over 25,000 different products could be made from hemp and declares hemp as the “New Billion Dollar Crop.”

      1942: Henry Ford builds an experimental car with panels partially made from hemp fibre. That same year, without any changes to the Marijuana Tax Act, the United States Army used their Hemp for Victory campaign to urge farmers to grow hemp to support them in World War II. Between 1942 and 1945, the U.S. cultivated 400,000 acres of hemp for their war effort.

      1957: Once World War II had ended, demand for hemp decreased and so did hemp production. The last commercial hemp fields were planted in 1957 in Wisconsin.

      1970: The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act went into effect abolishing the taxation approach of the Marijuana Tax Act, effectively making all cultivation of cannabis illegal by setting a zero tolerance for THC.

  8. W Espero Avatar
    W Espero

    Time to resurrect Ford’s dream and vision.

  9. naimah yianni Avatar
    naimah yianni

    it wasnt made illegal because of the THC issue, it was amde illegal because the oil companies didnt want any competition

  10. Mervyn Clay Avatar
    Mervyn Clay

    Dupont lobbied the Fed Gov to ban hemp because they discovered NYLON

  11. Jade devine Avatar

    Thank you for the great article. Phytocannabinoids is the future of Medicine. medical textbooks will have to be rewritten because of the discovery of the human endocannabinoid system in 1993. And as soon as the doctors decide to catch up.