Description

  • This three-wheeler was designed by Bucky Fuller of geodesic dome fame. 
  • This is #2 of 3 Dymaxions built and the only one in existence.
  • It features two frames connected at the front; one carries the engine and drive chain, the other carries the rear wheel mount, suspension and steering.
  • A Ford V-8 engine at rear drives the two front wheels.
  • The rear wheel steers like a ship’s rudder and the car can pivot 90 degrees, so it can rotate on its own axis.
  • There is no rear window, just a periscope on top.
  • Adverse publicity about safety tainted the future of this unusual car.

Story

Story

Richard Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller was recognized as a poet, artist, engineer, architect, cartographer, mathematician, sailor and philosopher.  Many believe his invention of the geodesic dome is as architecturally important as the Roman arch.

Fuller’s far-ranging interests also included automobiles.   He designed (with the help of Starling Burgess and Anna Biddle) the Dymaxion, one of the most significant and progressive cars ever built in the early 1930s.  Burgess, a famous naval architect and aircraft builder, was hired to engineer the car and direct its construction.  Biddle, a wealthy Philadelphia socialite and longtime friend of Fuller, agreed to financially back the project.  The three-wheeled cars were built in the old Locomobile factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Fuller coined the word “Dymaxion” from dynamic, maximum, and tension.  To Fuller, a three-wheeler wasn’t radical, it was simply logical.  He didn’t care about marketing statistics, buyer profiles, or luxury styling cues.  This highly streamlined car used a Ford V-8 engine at the rear to drive two front wheels.  The single rear wheel steered like the rudder of a ship.  Since the rear wheel could pivot 90 degrees, the car could easily turn on its own axis, giving the driver the sensation of meeting himself coming.

One of the most radical features of the Dymaxion design was that it was mounted on two frames, hinged at the front, with one frame carrying the engine and drive chain while the other carried the rear wheel mount, suspension and steering.  There were no rear windows, just a periscope.  Top speed was about 120 mph with fuel economy between 25 and 30 mpg.  Adverse publicity from a fatal accident involving car number one tainted the future of the Dymaxon.  During 1933 and 1934, three Dymaxions were built before Fuller ran out of cash.  Number one and number three have disappeared; this is number two.

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