By on October 31, 2010

The news that Norman Foster has finished building a Dymaxion replica had me checking to see if there are any good films of the Dymaxion in action. The pickings are slim, but this clip, without voice over but well chosen music, is pretty much it. One doesn’t really need that typical pedantic news reel voice over from the thirties anyway, to appreciate the Dymaxion’s qualities, including picking up a speeding ticket.

Here’s the newly built replica Dymaxion. Since the frame is an old ’33 Ford frame turned front to back, that probably wasn’t too hard to come up with, including the ford flathead V8 that drove the front wheels. The single steering rear wheel was a no-starter, as far as eventual public acceptance since in various situations, like a cross-wind, it required counter-intuitive inputs. But the Dymaxion was very efficient for the times, although it didn’t achieve many of designer Buckminster Fuller’s original claims, including a 120 mph top speed (90 actually), and a $200 price. A crash injured Bucky’s daughter, and he pulled away from the project, which quickly collapsed in bankruptcy.

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7 Comments on “Sunday YouTube Cinema: The Dymaxion Struts Its Stuff...”

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    Three wheel cars used to be popular in England because , it they were light enough , you could drive them on a motorcycle licence and pay motorcycle road tax. Fine until you try to straddle a pot-hole or a piece of debris in the road.

  • avatar

    I had the immense pleasure of knowing Bucky Fuller quite closely back in the day (’70’s). He loved to tell of the day he pulled up to a patrolled stop sign, and the cop began to give him the “what for” on his car. Bucky reached out the window, put his hand in the officer’s head, and turned a 180, taking off for the place from whence he had come.

  • avatar

    Sad that Bucky sold out to the cosmopolitan meat packing industry run by Oscar Meyer.

  • avatar

    Wow I thought I was the only one who knew about the Dymaxion and its advantages over 4-wheelers: no rear differential, a turning radius smaller than its length, an aerodynamically efficient shape, 40mpg, and lots of room.
    Here is a great a video of the Dymaxion unloading something like 11 kids, although apparently it didn’t have seat belts for all of them:
    Some more photos here:

  • avatar
    John Fritz

    Many years ago I had a landscaping job where I drove a huge three-wheeled mower configured like the Dymaxion.

    Bad, bad things would happen to you if/when that rear steered wheel got out of its comfort zone. Especially at high speeds.

    • 0 avatar

      I think technology available today (ESC) may be able to fix any issues with three-wheel stability. Certainly with something that could turn within its own length, you wouldn’t want to turn the wheel hard when going 60.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    Interesting the way the flat glass is made to follow the shape of the body.

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