Is the 1954 Aerocar One the wild future we were once promised?
The promise of flying cars has been circulating for decades, and only a few examples have come even close to delivering the goods. I’m sure someone thought this 1954 Aerocar One would be the revolution that would take personal human travel to the skies, thanks to its ability to take off from a stoplight and a runway.
Designed by Moulton Taylor in 1949, the Aerocar was envisioned to be the wave of the future. Taylor went so far as to feature the Aerocar on I’ve Got a Secret, where he sought to convince the public it was a dandy idea to blend a car and an airplane.
Any production car comes with some degree of compromise, which is doubly challenging to achieve when the vehicle in question needs to both fly and drive. The design is wild, centered around a small two-seat capsule with the small wheels jutting out, more akin to landing gear than automotive suspension. The steering wheel is influenced by the yokes found in aircraft cockpits and serves dual duty, determining direction both on land and in the air.
In street form, the wings fold back and tuck tight to the tail cone, allowing the little car to tow the airplane parts as a wild trailer of sorts. The single Lycoming 0-320 engine sits just behind the driver and passenger, giving the setup enough power to cruise 60 mph on the freeway and 100 mph in the air. While that might seem like a low airspeed compared to a modern jet, modern propeller planes are actually not that much faster at cruise. The 300-mile range is short when compared to modern aircraft, but those aircraft can’t do a mid-week grocery run without needing to park at a hangar.
The dashboard features instruments for both land and air travel, with no other frills to speak of in the passenger compartment. The lack of heat or air conditioning would likely limit the comfort of driver and passenger during a road trip, but why are you driving your plane? Fly, my friend!
If this all has you excited about the thought of flying cars, the good news is you can buy this 1954 model. Only six Aerocars were ever built, since the design never entered production, and this one has been maintained in flying condition according to the ad on Platinum Fighter Sales. If you are scared of the future of self-driving cars, just take to the sky above them. Beats sitting in traffic.
Would you drive and fly this wild piece of history? Let us know in the comments below.