Dream Deferred: The Ben-Dera Ford

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Spend enough time on the internet and you’ll eventually discover true oddballs languishing like any other barn find featured on this very site. Take, for example, the highly obscure Ben-Dera Ford, one man’s vision of what futuristic vehicle travel should look like. Crafted in his home well before a self-driving Tesla was even a figment of someone’s imagination, the history of the Ben-Dera can be found here on the 1A Auto Blog, which features an original article from Car And Driver magazine that profiled its creator in the 1990s.

Image courtesy of Car And Driver magazine

Created by John Bender – the man seen here in a photo from the Car And Driver article – the Ben-Dera was the manifestation of what he saw as an extension of his imagination. Concept cars were fun to gawk at, but it wasn’t his creation. Bender built two of these flying saucers-on-wheels, one with a Pinto-derived four-cylinder and a second with a Ford Cologne V6 and air conditioning. Although he yearned to see them produced on a limited basis, these were the only cars built.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

There have been sightings over the years of the Ben-Dera featured in the Car And Driver article. The photo up top likely shows it languishing outside Bender’s home, while the one here was supposedly captured outside of a Wendy’s – indicating someone was still using it for the occasional errand. In an article published by Opposite Lock, Bender says the reason for not following through with production was due to a fear of being sued. By who and why is never disclosed.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

The novelty of this creation is amplified further when you realize Bender produced his own molds, sourced rather commonplace materials for construction and otherwise hand-formed this car while living inside a massive shop building he called home. We’d love to know if Bender himself is still driving this Pinto-powered creation around Ohio, and we’re especially curious as to what happened with the six-cylinder example. Has anyone seen one of these creations in the flesh?


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  1. 68 custom

    looks long, low, and cool!

  2. Rock On Member

    After enough bourbon 🥃 you can see almost anything!

  3. Brian

    This car is parked literally a quarter of a mile from me. Its been years, but I used to see it on the road occasionally. It’s been sitting outside of his house for about 10 years now. I can go snap pics if anyone is interested.

    Like 4
    • Brian

      It had been a while since I went to look at it, so i just did. The house it sat outside of is now abandoned, and the car is nowhere to be seen. I found a picture of it sitting outside on Google Street View:

      Like 1
    • Thomas

      That would be yes. Also knock on the door and ask questions. Thanks.

  4. UK Paul

    What an amazing thing ..

  5. Sam

    Interesting car. Add Bendara to the list behind Buckminster Fuller, Tucker, Deloreon, etc…

  6. Bill Warner

    It appears to be an acquired taste, like drinking turpentine.

    • glen

      With a little luck, the turpentine will render one blind, and never see this thing again!

  7. Miguel

    It is really weird to see a concept/custom car with a license plate on it.

    I wonder why the car was changed from rectangular headlights to the round ones in the next picture.

    • Leon

      Would be interesting to run plate. Is it listed at Carfax ? See what it is registered as. Pinto ?? Donor car ??

    • Tyler

      It looks to me that the square lights are on a formed bar attached in front of where the round lights are from the more current pic. Looks like a depression also where it would have fitted, and you can tell how the “light bar” covers up the round grill on the right front panel

  8. Mike

    Being sued? Maybe by NASA!!!

    • Rod444

      Or by anyone with eyes.

      Like 1
    • Alan Brase

      I could think of a couple reasons being sued would be a concern. Suit for not paying the suppliers might be the first. I guess working for a medium sized manufacturer when I was 18, kinda was a wake up call to the enormous cost of bringing a product to market. While one has to admire what Bender created, with only his own resources, it only proves how naive he was at hoping to actually produce and sell a vehicle.

      • Metoo

        You may be right about suppliers. Many innovative people have found themselves in similar situations. They find themselves in the position of having to choose between pushing ahead with their dream despite financial difficulties, and hoping for success, or giving up. The latter seems to be the case here. Sometimes it is too much to fight. But sometimes they persevere. I am not very familiar with the case, not having seen the movie, but there was the case about the man who invented the now standard intermittent windshield wipers. I believe he at least won a settlement after decades of fighting for his invention. But Preston Tucker is the greatest example of one guy having been destroyed by the big three.

  9. Dolphin Member

    Words fail me.
    This is about the most amazing combo of wierd and ………..
    Like I said, words fail me.

  10. Jack Quantrill

    This is a hideous roach-coach and deserved to die! Worse than the Dymaxion by Buckminster Fuller.

    • Wolfgang Gullich

      At least the Dymaxion had interesting and innovative engineering… This has none of those

  11. dan viola

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This one might be a little too “blobby” for me But a Dymaxion i would love to own. Deathtrap aside it would be really cool to pull into a burger joint for a car show. Just me though.

  12. JW

    After googling Dymaxion I have to say for me being a fan of restomods and modifying what you have these 2 creations hurt my eyes and I’m half blind.

  13. Rodney

    This so needs to be saved. If for no other reason than to document and celebrate failed attempts to create the “future”. Sometimes it is just as important to see what does not work….

    • Dolphin Member

      Back decades ago you used to see drawings of futuristic cars in publications like Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and so on, and they looked generally a lot like this car. They were someone’s idea of what personal transport would look like in the future.

      I think that’s where John Bender probably got his inspiration….looking at drawings of futuristic vehicles in popular magazines. He just took the step of actually making a real one.

      • Alan Brase

        Right! Seems quite a few were inspired by the magazines of the 50’s and 60’s. Most seemed to come up with a fiberglass body kit to make your 40 Ford chassis into a EXCITING, SPORTS ROADSTER. Kinda favoring a Nash Healy or Kaiser Darrin or similar. Still, it probably should be in a museum. Jay Leno, are you out there?

      • Metoo

        Back in those days no one envisioned what we actually end up with…..Smart Car for two

    • Rodney

      …did I forget to mention that it does look like an inner galactical gastrointestinal parasite?

  14. Rx7turboII

    John Bender? From the Breakfast Club? Looks like the same guy to me! Lol


    sorry, its a dog. set it free……..

  16. Russell

    I once went on a Bender! Most cars looked like this during that experience, but I guess that doesn’t count, does it?

    • Metoo

      Same here. And I ended up having to chew off my arm to escape what I brought home with me at last call.

  17. Justjoshin

    Anyone have an address???

    • Brian

      It’s not there anymore. The house is abandoned.

  18. Van

    Would be great for sightseeing as long as the AC was good. If you drove this up on the sidewalk to get a better look nobody would stop you.

  19. JC

    Actually, I don’t see a lot of difference between this design and the design of à Prius. Both are *futuristic*…

  20. whippeteer

    As this doesn’t have the bumper and fascia shown in the pictures of the two cars in the Car and Driver article, I would guess that it was probably the first design and then covered over. You can see the outline of the other front end.

  21. whippeteer

    Here is a better look at it. Rocket pods, wings, and all! http://oppositelock.kinja.com/cars-you-didnt-know-about-the-ben-dera-871879901

  22. Jeff Lavery Staff

    I would love to own the tan one. I’ve always wanted a car with the Cologne V6…

  23. Peter Atherton

    The headlights appear to be aircraft landing lights; gotta be illegal in every state!

  24. Legeai

    Crazy? Probably somewhat. Naive? Definitely. Questionable result? For sure……yet I personally give credit to this man who rolled up his sleeves, opened up his wallet and turned his dream, his vision into a real thing.

  25. BradL

    Ben-Dera Dun-Dat.

  26. David Miraglia

    Back to the futures other time machine. Not as cool as the DeLorean.

  27. Jeremy from 1A Auto Blog

    I’m not sure how I possibly missed this in my daily BarnFind emails, but I apparently did. Proving that the world is, in-fact quite small, I’m the guy that wrote the article that you linked to above over on the 1A Auto Blog. Thanks for continuing to share this fascinating story (and of course linking to us). Now you’ve my curiosity piqued again on this car, and I’m wondering what the latest is in the saga! We need an investigator on the case!

  28. Steven Ala

    Bendera ford looks like the rental car for commander strayker when his shadow vehicle is in the shop!

  29. Andy

    Any news? Or did both of the cars vanish without a trace?

  30. Jimmy

    John was actually my great uncle we called “Jack”. He was the twin brother to my grandpa Jim. I’m not sure what happened to the cars but Jack passed away December 28th of 2018. My dad actually did the body work and paint on the gold car back when he was building them.

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