So, last christmas my parents got me a big fat book about wacky, stupid and generally nonsensible cars and concepts of all types and eras. What struck me the most was the almost suicidally wacky cars that (mainly) the big three developed in the good 'ol US of A during the golden age of cars, namely the late '40s to the late '60s.
As the penultimate car-nut i am, not hesitating to dive into old dusty books and lurk into wierd websites for hours searching for data i decided to go on a grand quest and find more info on these wierd creations.
One can call it whatever they want. Was it innovation? Was it ingenuity? Was it a glimpse into a bright future or was it utter madness that should get the designer taken outside and shot? You decide!
Join me in this great quest as we travel to the mysteries of the golden age of the automobile in the eldorado of car-countries - USA!
[size=150]Not so long ago…[/size]
…The era is the 1950’s and we find ourselves in the USA. It’s the age of the atom with mushroom-clouds rising over the New Mexico desert, it’s the era of the rocket and the satellite with sci-fi books filling the shelves and every theatre showing amazing stories of astronauts travelling to distant stars to fight slimy monsters on desert planets. Skyscrapers rose higher and higher, with more glass and steel than the neighbouring building. Every decent american saw scary Communists in every street corner and any suspicious-looking man in trenchcoat and stetson hat could be a potential KGB-spy sent by Moscow. Anything with large fins, a metric tonne of chrome and a very large blurbing V8 was the hottest thing on wheels and every year the crome shone more, the fins became larger and the V8’s bigger and blurbier… In this context we find our penultimate cars of the future, and first off is Ford with their…
As you can see this rather sleek concept from 1958 existed in the works both with and without fancy fins plus the fashionable whitewall tyres, but that wasn’t the main technological edge this streamlined cruiser had to offer… That came in the form of it’s Nuclear reactor powerplant located in the back, Everyone who has played some Fallout 3, where cars like these are littered across the landscape know how they could look. Assuming that the power figures for these cars featured in the game would be somewhat realistic you would look at 0 - 100km/h in split seconds tyre grip permitting of course, Nice, clean emissions merely consisting of water-vapor and excess heat and some insanely good mileage to service-cost ratios with only changing the central uranium-core every 4 or 5 years.* Sci-Fi! Future! Atomics!* The downside of course being what you would do with the depleted uranium cores when they should be interchanged… There were rougly 250 million cars registered in the US in 2007, if you assume that 50% of those 250 million cars would be driven by atomic engines today if the technology for making them became common in the '60s and every uranium-cartridge would consist of 0.5kg of Uranium you would have to deal with 62,5 MILLION kilograms of uranium averagely every 5 years… We have problems taking care of a few hundred tonnes worldwide every year today! Imagine those 625.000 tonnes every 5 years for 50 years… wow…
And last but not least, what will happen if you have an accident? . Beware of small mushroom-clouds by the roadside here and there…