- The was the first turbo jet car to run on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
- It is powered by a Convair B-36 bomber General Electric J-47 turbojet engine.
- Firestone machined special wheels from solid forged aluminum and made tubeless tires to hold 200 pounds of pressure.
- It tried, but failed to beat Craig Breedlove’s record of 407.45 mph and only reached 359.7 mph.
- It made a cameo appearance in the 2005 movie, The World’s Fastest Indian, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Los Angeles physician Dr. Nathan Ostich built the world’s first “jet” propulsion land speed car, the Flying Caduceus, in 1960. He chose the car’s name from the medical profession’s “caduceus” symbol of a staff with entwined snakes and added a pair of wings denoting speed.
He began construction by obtaining a Convair B-36 bomber General Electric J-47 turbojet engine, which became the determining factor in the dimensions of the car. The frame is made of 2-inch square steel tubing. The suspension components were derived from Chevrolet truck parts and comprised A-arms and torsion bars. Firestone machined the special wheels from solid forged aluminum. Firestone tires were of tubeless construction holding 200 pounds pressure. The driver sat ahead of the front wheels, in a multi-windowed proboscis.
When it was unveiled early in 1960, Ostich announced a goal of 500 mph and in August, he ran the Flying Caduceus at Bonneville Salt Flats. He encountered a few problems, the worst being a defective fuel pump, a “loose” steering system, and fiberglass air ducts that were too lightweight. Ostich returned to Bonneville in 1962 but directional instability was apparent when the car began to slide sideways. When the Flying Caduceus tried again in 1963, it reached its best speed of 359.7 mph, but the tachometer showed the engine to be running at only 90 percent of the rated rpm. Ostich was trying to beat Craig Breedlove’s record of 407.45 mph, but since the Flying Caduceus just couldn’t summon that extra muscle, Ostich did not try again.
The Cadaceus made a cameo appearance in the 2005 movie, The World’s Fastest Indian, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins.