The other day, we saw one of those small two seater cars that looked barely big enough to be considered a car and the first words out of my father's mouth - 'accordion in the making'. Throughout the history of automotive production, car makers have created some unique cars, some we've never heard of.
1. The 1936 Stout Scarab was built by William Stout owner of the early Stout Airlines. He designed airplanes before cars and wanted to combine luxury with leisure. This particular model was designed as a diner car with a V-8 engine in the back of this extended aluminum body. At $5000 per vehicle, less than 10 were sold because it cost more than a Cadillac or Packard.
2. The 1946 Oeuf Electrique aka Electric Egg which looks like a glass covered small chassis similar to those motorized tricycles cars on Waikiki Beach. The Oeuf Electrique only had three wheels and used battery power long after most engines became gas powered. The bubble that encloses the two person bench is made of aluminum with curved plexiglass. There were no gauges but visibility was wonderful. The concept for this car came out of the Nazi Occupation of Paris when there were already gas shortages forcing the reintroduction of horses and carts. Paul Arzens, an engineer, created it so he could zip around the streets of Paris. Even with the electric engine, the whole vehicle weighed all of 90 kilograms.
3. The1947 Norman Timbs Special which looks kind of backwards with the cockpit in front with curves leading to a raindrop shaped tail. Norman Timbs who was also an Indy Car Racer designed and built this car using a Buick Straight 8 engine located at the back end that could take a 1200 pound car to 120 mph. The chassis was constructed from aircraft tubing material while the aluminum body was hand crafted. Parts such as brakes, steering came from a Mercury brand car.
4. The 1953 General Motors Firebird 1 XP-21 was unique in that it was a jet fighter with four wheels, a tail fin, and a bubble cockpit. This vehicle had the first gas turbine engine which could produce 370 horsepower. Since it was not actually a jet, the engine was modified so the Whirl Fire Turbo Engine acted on the rear wheels through the transmission. The body was composed of a fiberglass reinforced plastic body. It was also designed to see if gas turbine engines could be used.
5. The 1955 Chrysler Streamlined X "Gilda" named after the Rita Hayworth movie by the same name. The car was actually designed by Ghia. Although they were going to use a turbine engine, they ended up installing a 1.5 liter engine designed for touring. The two tone body and huge fins set it apart from other cars of the day. The cockpit was in the front but smaller for the size of the car.
Most of these cars were never produced for the general public either because they either were concept cars or were too expensive for most people or due to a shortage of materials. These cars are unique and have a place in history.
Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear.