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Historic Video: 1960’s Army Testing Of Curtiss-Wright Air Car Is A Glimpse Of A Future That Never Was

Historic Video: 1960’s Army Testing Of Curtiss-Wright Air Car Is A Glimpse Of A Future That Never Was

I don’t know about you, but it is now the year 2014 and I’m feeling a bit mislead as there’s not a single personal jet pack or flying car available for me to purchase from a major company. Maybe we’re better off that flying cars don’t exist though, as the thought of a teenager busy Snapchatting in the lane next to me is terrifying enough, let alone one piloting a vehicle that could crash into the second floor of my house.

Sure, we have hovercars, but with the exception of some pretty rad toys , limited usage in Europe as rescue craft, and a surprisingly entertaining French racing series, you never really see them being used.

There’s a number of good reasons as to why hovercraft and similar “flying” vehicles have never really reached mainstream acceptance (I refuse to use the phrase “never really taken off”…), but that’s not for a lack of interest.

Heck, even the US military has considered using hover cars, and the video at the bottom of this blog item is proof.

Filmed in 1960, the brief clip shows military testing of a 1959 Curtiss-Wright Model 2500 Air Car. Powered by two 180 horsepower Lycoming engines that each provided lift via a four-blade fan and allowed hovering at a height of six to nine inches, the Air Car was able to steer by redirecting this air through louvers set into either side of the body.

This future-car-that-never-was weighed in at around 2500 pounds, was twenty-one feet long, eight feet wide, and claimed to reach speeds of “over fifty miles-per-hour”, all while carrying up to four passengers. It also drank aviation gas from two twenty-gallon tanks to give it a range of about two hours of run-time.

The military abandoned further testing about a year later, which I’d have to speculate was due to the speed and range constraints, along with a lack of real all-terrain capability due to the hover height and lack of a flexible skirt.

Looking back, it probably also didn’t help that the Air Car looked like some sort of future tech that the Nazis in an Indiana Jones film would be piloting, with its “Look, I’m like a car without wheels” late 50’s styling. You know that military guys took one look at that thing, laughed, and said, “Thanks, but I’ll stick with my Jeep”.

Personally I’m digging the now retro styling and would love to have one as a toy to cruise around town in. From all accounts the Air Cars were meant to be street legal with headlights, bumpers, and all, so it should be possible if I could just find one that still exists. If you’re like me and want to see more of the Model 2500 Air Car in action, click here to watch a commercial for the vehicle in civilian garb (Complete with terrible music), or click here to watch another black and white film going over the technical specs.

So, what do you BangShifters think? Cool idea, or better off dead and buried?


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