John Gilbert Staff Editor
March 2, 2016

Homer Simpson wasn’t the first famous car designer to pen a fancifully preposterous-looking automobile. Car companies have been building one-off deviants to champion a worthy special cause since cars began.

North of the U.S. border in Ontario, Canada, during the late 1950s, Mr. Beep, a talking 1959 English Ford Zephyr, was a promotional project initiated by BP Oil Company to bring traffic safety lessons to school children under police-supervised school safety programs. Take a closer look at Toronto’s archival images of Mr. Beep. The Metropolitan Toronto’s Safety Division operated a fleet of 1958 Ford Courier sedan deliveries.

Flash-forward half a century below the province of Ontario, across the border to Michigan, and there’s a new celebrity car face on the block. The Ford Motor Company Fund and the Salvation Army of Metro Detroit today unveiled the newest addition to the Bed & Bread program, Harrison the Jr. Bed & Bread Truck. Harrison will serve as a community ambassador by visiting schools and promoting the Bed & Bread program. The real Harrison began life as a Ford Transit Connect and was customized with support from the Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford. The animated Harrison, a smiling transit van, was first created by Detroit radio legend Dick Purtan and his daughter Jackie Purtan. The Bed & Bread program serves more than 1.5 million meals each year.

Salvation Army Lt. Col. John Turner (left) joins Rene Palileo of the Ford Motor Company Fund and radio broadcaster Al Muskavito for the unveiling of Harrison.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery