By on March 30, 2010

Well, Lear’s vapor turbine never ended up being built in the millions by 1975… but the prediction that electric cars would be best for taxis, delivery vehicles, or a family’s second car for commuting and shopping seems to be coming true. Oh, and we all know how the lead or no-lead fuel debate worked out. But with mass-market electric cars getting closer to reality every day, it’s fun to look back at where we once thought technology might be going. This copy of “Cars of the Future” certainly doesn’t fail to entertain on that count.

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28 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Yesterday’s Future Today Edition...”

  • avatar

    We’re still waiting for the flying cars.

    • 0 avatar

      This article brings back memories of flying to Las Vegas to see Bill Lear’s pitch on his steam engine and later checking out Paul Moller’s flying car. Neither stood up to analysis, although Moller is still trying.

    • 0 avatar

      flying cars will NEVER happen. EVER.

      I don’t give humanity another 10,000 years of existence, but even if we did live that long we will always be bound to the ground.

    • 0 avatar

      “We’re still waiting for the flying cars.”

      … and my jetpack, dammit!

    • 0 avatar

      ClutchCargo, Jetpacks at your service:

    • 0 avatar

      For your veiwing and listening pleasure:

      (It’s the Eighties, So Where’s Our) Rocket Packs
      By the band Daniel Amos
      from the album “Vox Humana”
      Words and Music by Terry Taylor
      ©1984 Twitchen Vibes Music (ASCAP)

      It’s the eighties
      It’s the eighties so where’s our rocket packs?
      It’s the eighties so where’s our rocket packs?
      Go anywhere, we strap them on our backs

      1. (It’s the eighties so where’s our rocket packs?)
      I thought by now I’d walk the moon
      And ride a car without no tires
      And have a robot run the vacuum
      And date a girl made out of wires
      No thing’s don’t change that much, do they?
      We are still out of touch, by now we should discover
      Just how to love each other, like Klattus’ robot man
      Your looks have killed again

      2. (It’s the eighties so where’s our rocket packs?)
      I thought by now we’d live in space
      And eat a pill instead of dinner
      And wear a gas mask on our face a President of female gender
      Though progress marches on, (new day)
      Our troubles will grow strong
      And my expectancies, become my fantasies
      You turn my blood to sand, the earth stands still again

      My hopes are running low
      things moving much too slow
      No space men up above
      And we’re still so very far from love

      3. (It’s the eighties so where’s our rocket packs?)
      I thought by now we’d build a dome
      Around the world, control the weather
      In every house, a picture phone; communicate a little better
      But some things never change (replay!)
      You are still acting strange
      No way that I can see, this way we will be free
      La la la la la la,la la la la la 7,6,5,4,3,2,1 Lift off!

  • avatar

    Releasing tons of lead-infused hydrocarbons in the atmosphere is going to go down in the history books as the twentieth century’s version of things like the Hapsburg’s relentless incest, hanging people from the rafters and slitting their veins open to cure them and/or using mercury mixed with white lead as facepaint.

    It’s hard to believe we were collectively that stupid.

    • 0 avatar

      Depends on who writes that history.

      All the talk about about our ‘huge’ natural gas reserves that are only accessible by hydro frac’ing. Pump thousands of gallons of hot solvents under pressure into the ground and leave them to enter the aquifers.

      The best part? Frac’ing is specifically exempted from EPA oversight (at least insofar as the Clean Water Act is concerned).
      So we can get some nat gas in trade for drinkable water. Do we ever learn?

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t it always seem to go
      that we don’t know what we got til it’s gone.
      They paved paradise
      to put up a parking lot.

    • 0 avatar

      Google “Halliburton exemption” if you want the low-down on hydro fracturing — yes, “clean” Natural Gas is your friend. Trust us.

      Anyway, in the ’60’s, I was a huge fan of the AMT “future car” models designed by George Barris ad Gene Winfield, especially Gene’s “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” car, which in my little hands, routinely left the ground (with a “jet” sound supplied by me.)

    • 0 avatar

      At the start of the 20th century the introduction of the internal combustion engine was viewed as a great health improvement. We tend to forget what cities looked like before cars arrived. New York was run on coal fired steam engines and hundreds of thousands of horses. The coal used for heating and by steam engines meant that the air pollution was something out of Dante’s inferno. The buildings were black with soot. The horses produced vast volumes of manure and urine that was either left in the streets of collected in mountains of the stuff. Disease was rampant. The typical smell of a 19th century industrial city was something between a steel mill and a slaughterhouse. Compared to the past the introduction of the gasoline powered car was a great leap forward. The release of “lead infused hydrocrbons into the atmosphere” was a small price to pay as we live longer, eat better and have a much better standard of living for more people that could ever have been imagined in the past. To condemn our ancestors with our modern so-called enlightened view is somewhat arrogant.

    • 0 avatar

      So, do we take the next step into the 21st century, or bask in the glory of fossil fuels until they run dry? I hope we’re smarter than that.

  • avatar

    I want the Javelin with the big wing on the back.

    Or is that just the ultimate expression of ricer culture?

    • 0 avatar

      Scaramanga had one in The Man with the Golden Gun. I think his was based on a Matador, but they should be able to whip up a Javelin version.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought of that movie as soon as I saw the picture of the Javelin. Scaramanga’s flying car was definitely a Matador, while Bond drove a Hornet.

      Most if not all the cars in that film were AMCs, just as they were GM products in Live And Let Die.

  • avatar

    I don’t about anyone else, but the idea of a 20-something gabbing on their iPhone and drinking a latte while piloting their flying AMC Javelin during rush hour (or would that be rush-over?) gives me the heeby-jeebies. Probably best it didn’t happen.

  • avatar

    Is that the IndyCar DeltaWing ( below the flying Javelin?

  • avatar

    Hank has it right. I probably sound like some Victorian dude ranting about horseless carriages, but I recoil in horror at the idea of flying cars. Imagine hundreds of ricers cruising over your back yard at an altitude of 40 feet, circling endlessly, proudly displaying their fart-can mufflers, while pumping 500 watts of “music” through their subwoofers.
    Some things were just not meant to be.

  • avatar

  • avatar

    I’m not sure which future I prefer: flying AMCs or GM’s Segways in a plastic bubble. OK, actually, I am sure.

  • avatar

    Most people have a hard time driving a car on roads. Just imagine what would happen if flying cars were a reality and they had three dimensions to deal with.


  • avatar

    Funny how little things change.

    The article on electric cars declares that marketable electric cars are only 10 or so years away, once the pesky problem of battery range is licked…

  • avatar

    I miss those old Holiday Inn signs especially at night. Best Western and Quality Inn had some good ones too.

  • avatar

    I’ll take the steam powered car, one that runs on coal. That would be the only thing that makes more sense that running cars on electricity, made from coal-fired plants, in order to ‘help the environment’.

    • 0 avatar

      This reminds me of something I read here yesterday – “The Nissan Leaf is the first all-electric zero-emissions automobile..”, and my first reaction was “Yeah, this the the first car that causes emissions when you’re NOT driving it…”. Unles you’re getting all your juice from solar/wind/hydroelectric, I suppose.

  • avatar

    Electricity can be made cleanly, we just need the political will (heh) to make it so.

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