In the annals of revolutionary car designers, a number of names come to mind: Harley Earl, Preston Tucker, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, the Highway Aircraft Corporation
Eh? Who was that last one? Well, this Sidney, Neb. company nearly revolutionized car design, anyway. In this brochure from the early '70s, Highway Aircraft unveils "Tomorrows Car Today"the Fascination. And had the sleek, jet-tube-fendered three-wheeler been built to the specs listed inside, it certainly would have been a vehicle from some far-off future.
First, lets look under the hood (presuming it has one, somewhere). While the Fascinations standard engine is an aluminum, fuel-injected four-cylinder, a new type of energy source is touted as the vehicles soon-to-come power drive: the Nobel Gas Plasma Engine. "This engine is a closed two-cycle reciprocating engine that has no intake, uses no air, emitting no exhaust at all The fuel is self-contained and hermetically sealed in the cylinders which are initially charged at the time of manufacturing, carrying their own power supply that will last approximately 60 to 75 thousand miles with no fall of efficiency." An environmentally safe engine that doesnt need refueling for 60,000 mileswhy havent we heard of this miracle power source? (GM or Ford obviously must have sent out their minions to squelch such a potentially damaging competitor.)
Other futuristic features include tubular steel roll bars to protect passengers from collision, three-point road contact that "distributes the weight evenly with no help from the suspension system," a curved, impact-absorbing front bumper that reduces front end collisions into "glancing blows," and an overall streamlined design that eliminates wind resistance"Lack of bug stains on the windshield is evidence of the functional design of the Fascination." And although you may think that a three-wheeled craft may be more prone to rollover (the main reason why three-wheeled ATVs were banned), the brochure lays this assumption to rest: "We can approach crossroads at 40 mph and without taking our foot off the throttle, turn the corner at full speed. The car does not roll."
For all its technical features, the sales brochure admits that the Fascinations most exciting aspect is its looks, assuring potential salesmen that the cars "appearance is probably the very greatest advantage. The car is so designed and so well built that it attracts the eye and when demonstrated it will sell itself."
For more information on the Fascination, read this personal account in our Viewer Mail department.