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Entries in cars (48)


Dymaxion "Car of the Future" (1934)

Resembling a whale out of water, here you see the Dymaxion, a three-wheeled vehicle being manufactured at Bridgeport, Conn., as "the car of the future." The invention of Buckminster Fuller, the super-streamlined model has two front wheels set midway in the ovaloid body and one rear wheel, set in the tail, which does the steering, rudder fashion. It uses little gasoline, but can travel 125 miles an hour.

The May 6, 1934 News and Tribune (Jefferson City, MO) ran the photograph above of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion "Car of the Future." The advertisement below, which ran in the April 23, 1934 New Castle News (New Castle, PA) used an image of the streamlined Dymaxion to help sell motor fuel.


See also:
Gyroscopic Rocket Car (1945)
Buckminster Fuller Screenprints (1981)
Fuller's Traveling Cartridge (circa 1960s)
The Most Well-Documented Lives in History
Sea City 2000 (1979)
GM's Three-Wheeled Runabout (1966)
Automobiles of the Future (1966)
GM Car of the Future (1962)
Sports Car of Tomorrow (1966)


Syd Mead Art for U.S. Steel (1960s)

Professor Michael Stoll has posted an amazing collection of promotional art Syd Mead did for U.S. Steel.

Prof. Stoll posted the Syd Mead images to the (Boing Boing Gadgets/Paleo-Future Blog) Flickr Group, In the Year 2000. The entire set of images can be found in the Portfolio of Probabilities photoset.

One thing that is interestingly absent from the illustrations is any clear indication of a flying car.

Brian Horrigan, co-author of Yesterday's Tomorrows was kind enough to recently lend me a 1961 U.S. Steel book titled Innovations, which contains similar work by Syd Mead. Stay tuned for more on that.

See also:
The Future World of Transportation
Syd Mead
Rhapsody of Steel (1959)
Rhapsody of Steel Film (1959)


GM's Shopping Cart Car (1964)

Today we have a color photograph of the GM concept car we looked at back in August. The three-wheeled car was on display at the 1964 New York World's Fair and had a shopping cart which was detached directly from the rear of the car.

The color version of this photo is featured in the excellent book Exit to Tomorrow: World's Fair Architecture, Design, Fashion 1933-2005.

See also:
GM's Three-Wheeled Runabout (1966)
Automobiles of the Future (1966)
GM Car of the Future (1962)
Sports Car of Tomorrow (1966)
Transportation Exhibits at the New York World's Fair (1964)
To The Fair! (1965)
Amateur Photos of NY World's Fair (1965)


Transportation of the Future (1992)

The 1992 children's book Transport (Timelines) features this two-page spread of futuristic bicycle wheels, solar-powered cars, high-speed trains and fire engines with robotic arms.

See also:
The Future World of Transportation


Paleo-Future Inventions Quiz

Encarta has an interesting online quiz about paleo-futuristic products. The quiz was produced by the Discovery Channel and asks questions about jet packs, nuclear-powered cars, meal-in-a-pill, videophones, among others. You can take the quiz here.

(The last question is particularly sad, and doesn't end up well. We'll probably look at news articles from that failed invention next week.)

See also:
Jet Flying Belt is Devised to Carry Man for Miles (New York Times, 1968)
The Future is Now (1955)
Jet Pack Video (1966)
Tomorrow's TV-Phone (1956)
Television Phone Unveiled (1955)


Cars Detroit Forgot To Build, 1950-1960

Bruce McCall's 2001 book The Last Dream-o-Rama is a brilliant, hilarious example of postmodern paleo-futurism (an obnoxiously academic term I came up with to describe co-opting past visions of the future).

With a subtitle of "The Cars Detroit Forgot to Build, 1950-1960" this book is pure parody. Although, side-by-side with the sincere concept drawings of Driving Through Futures Past, one would be hard-pressed to tell the parody from the real thing.

The illustration above is called the "HobbyPop RoadShop from 1958" which proclaims that Mom better drive smoother upstairs because, "Dad's trying to build a birdhouse downstairs!" More excerpts from the book appear below.

El Scandinavia Mk XXX, 1956

"The Look of Today, Tomorrow!" was Matterhorn Motors' promotional theme for 1956, and semanticists, at least those with both the time and inclination, still bicker over its precise meaning: a promise, or an IOU?


Opening night of Matterhorn Motors' Futurific Tomorrowrama Cavalcade of Chrome, Detroit, October 1954. Public hysteria topped Orson Welles's 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds before Matterhorn announced that none of the dream cars on display would be produced for sale.

Bossmobile Gal Friday Execustreak, 1958

Bulgemobile Corp. decided to give the busy Fifties executive the break he needed with its premier dream car for the '58 season. Enter the fabulous Bossmobile, where the high-salaried corporate big shot could sit back, digest his three-martini lunch, and dictate memos or gab to his golf pro on the portable Electrofone or just uncap the Johnny Walker in the lower right-hand desk drawer for a bracing nip or three before the Bossmobile deposited him at his split-level suburban home in time for cocktail hour.

See also:
Gyroscopic Rocket Car (1945)
GM's Three-Wheeled Runabout (1966)
Postmodern Paleo-Future
GM Car of the Future (1962)
Automobiles of the Future (1966)
Postmodern Paleo-Future Art



Tulsa Time Capsule (1957)

On June 15, 1957 a Plymouth Belvedere was buried in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The car was to serve as a time capsule which would be opened in 2007. Among other things, it was packed with films, a commemorative plate and gasoline (in case the people of 2007 didn't have any to start the car).

The June 8, 1957 Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas) ran an article titled, "Oklahoma Really Whooping It Up For 50th Birthday."

In a steel vault, buried on the lawn before the City's modernistic skyscraper courthouse is a 1957 automobile and many another memento of Oklahoma's 50th year.


"Tulsarama!" visitors filled out cards predicting the city's population in 2007. Closest guess will win the car - 50 years from now - along with a $100 trust fund, plus interest. The money will be paid to the heirs of the guesser if he or she is not alive in the centennial year.

In June of 2007 they dug up the car. It was announced that Raymond Humbertson had, in 1957, submitted the guess (384,743) closest to Tulsa's 2007 population (382,457). Time did not treat the car so well, as evidenced by the photo below.


Mr. Humberston died in 1979. According to an AP story, his closest living heirs are two elderly sisters living in Maryland. It's not clear if they'll receive the trust fund money because according to the Tulsa World, it was "set up with Sooner Federal Savings and Loan Association, which was liquidated in the 1990s."

Be sure to check out the Flickr page of Michael Bates, who has some great photos of the unearthing.

See also:
Lost and Stolen Time Capsules
Year 2000 Time Capsule (1958)
General Dynamics Astronautics Time Capsule (1963)
Broken Time Capsule (1963-1997)

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