Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Prognostication and one of my prognosticating heroes

With classes back in session, and new job keeping me occupied 30 hours per week, and another potential endeavor into the world of fine art management, posts may become even more erratic and spastic than usual. I hope to keep all my projects documented here for all to enjoy, but they will come in spurts most likely.
Please keep checking back for more fabrication, more fine art, and even more rambling ruminations on my heroes, villains, passions and temporary fixations.
Also, take some time to check in with PariahCycle, a project by a good friend of mine which promises much challenge and even more reward.

But for now, I'd like to tell anyone who may be curious a little about one of my personal heroes, R. Buckminster Fuller (Bucky to his friends). Fuller was something of a renaissance man, he was an inventor, designer, author, and he contributed major thoughts and theories to the early 20th century.

Along with now common words such as synergy, Fuller used the term Dymaxion as a brand name for many of his projects which were designed to improve daily life for humanity and the world in general. His Dymaxion car (below) is an example of one of those projects.


The Dymaxion car was designed based on models tested in a wind-tunnel for aerodynamic efficiency and, along with the Chrysler Airflow (itself a ground-breaking vehicle), was one of the first vehicles in the US to be designed around an aerodynamic form. The Dymaxion could seat 11 passengers, its three wheel, rear-wheel steering allowed it a near zero degree turning radius, it was powered by a 90 horsepower Ford V8 and it reportedly could travel up 120 miles per hour and average 30 miles to the gallon. Keep in mind that in 1930 "the top speed for new cars was 60 mph; fuel efficiency was 25 miles per gallon." 

Unfortunately, during a test drive for the 1933 Worlds Fair, the prototype Dymaxion was involved in a collision with another vehicle, killing its driver and wounding the two passengers. Despite an investigation which revealed the accident was not caused by any design flaw in the Dymaxion but instead by the other vehicle, investors pulled out of funding the project. Some theorize that the accident may have been arranged by large automobile manufacturers of the day, worried that "this revolutionary design would kill all other car sales."

Despite only three Dymaxion cars being built, it had a definite effect on the world around it, inspiring numerous other inventors to try their hand at ultra-modern and efficient vehicles, such as this one:

This is a 1934 patent model for an aerodynamic vehicle designed by Normal Bel Geddes, another designer and industrialist who was most likely influenced by Fuller's Dymaxion car.

Or this one:
The Fascination, another prototype built by the Highway Aircraft Corporation of Sydney, Nebraska. Apparently this one is still a bit of a mystery but at least one was built in the 1970s, with plans for a whole production run.

One can only speculate about the state of the automotive world today if any of these cars had gotten off the ground, and many think the big American auto makers had a strong hand in preventing it. But Mr R.B. Fuller was ahead of the curve and set the standard against which we are only lately trying to compete.

The Dymaxion in action:

No comments:

Post a Comment