🔗 Dymaxion Car

🔗 Automobiles

The Dymaxion car was designed by American inventor Buckminster Fuller during the Great Depression and featured prominently at Chicago's 1933/1934 World's Fair. Fuller built three experimental prototypes with naval architect Starling Burgess – using donated money as well as a family inheritance – to explore not an automobile per se, but the 'ground-taxiing phase' of a vehicle that might one day be designed to fly, land and drive – an "Omni-Medium Transport". Fuller associated the word Dymaxion with much of his work, a portmanteau of the words dynamic, maximum, and tension, to summarize his goal to do more with less.

The Dymaxion's aerodynamic bodywork was designed for increased fuel efficiency and top speed, and its platform featured a lightweight hinged chassis, rear-mounted V8 engine, front-wheel drive (a rare RF layout), and three wheels. With steering via its third wheel at the rear (capable of 90° steering lock), the vehicle could steer itself in a tight circle, often causing a sensation. Fuller noted severe limitations in its handling, especially at high speed or in high wind, due to its rear-wheel steering (highly unsuitable for anything but low speeds) and the limited understanding of the effects of lift and turbulence on automobile bodies in that era – allowing only trained staff to drive the car and saying it "was an invention that could not be made available to the general public without considerable improvements." Shortly after its launch, a prototype crashed and killed the Dymaxion's driver.

Despite courting publicity and the interest of auto manufacturers, Fuller used his inheritance to finish the second and third prototypes, selling all three, dissolving Dymaxion Corporation and reiterating that the Dymaxion was never intended as a commercial venture. One of the three original prototypes survives, and two semi-faithful replicas have recently been constructed. The Dymaxion was included in the 2009 book Fifty Cars That Changed The World and was the subject of the 2012 documentary The Last Dymaxion.

In 2008, The New York Times said Fuller "saw the Dymaxion, as he saw much of the world, as a kind of provisional prototype, a mere sketch, of the glorious, eventual future."

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