While the three-wheeled “Fascination” looks to have been constructed in full-sized prototype form in the early ’70s, its engine, a “Nobel Gas Plasma Engine” that needed no fuel to operate 60,000 miles, was not. (Wonder why!)
A reader to PopCult magazine offered this first-hand experience:
It was a very cool car. I even rode in it once or twice! Quite a revolutionary design, too. It had air-filled rubber shock absorbers like on today’s buses. It had a mid-engine design, behind the back seats, and the engines were going to be from Renault–I think they were Wankel or rotary engines. I don’t remember anything about “Nobel Gas-Plasma Engines” that the website mentions. Because it was mid-engine, the front of the car was very light. Supposedly, if it got hit broadside, it would just spin around on the back wheels.
Because it only had three wheels, you could drive it into a ditch and you’d never lose contact with any of the wheels and the road. You could also turn the front wheel almost perpendicular to the car, which meant you could turn nearly in its own radius, and you could parallel park with about 12 inches of total clearance. It got 40 or so mpg.
The Fascination may have been inspired by a similar design from Buckminster Fuller. Fuller’s car, the “Dymaxion,” was designed in 1933. At least three were constructed. It sat ten plus the driver, weighed less than 1,000 pounds, and got between 30 and 50 MPG. Three prototypes were built. Unlike the Fascination, the Dymaxion’s third wheel was in the back, a design it shares with the upcoming Aptera electric and hybrid vehicles.
A space age transportation innovation [PopCultMag.com]
Previously: Aptera Three-Wheeled Electric Car May Reach Production [BBG]