Retro-Future: Mind-Boggling Transportation

Posted: January 25, 2008 in Future

This is Part 3 of the "Retro-Future" series. Read also parts 1 and 2

Jetsons will be shocked to see this

the fascinating concepts that appeared in the 1940s-60s magazines are
some pretty good ones that could even prompt interest in modern
designers and manufacturers. Other ideas, on the contrary, did not age
well and may appear nuttier than a drunk hamster on a treadmill.

of their potential and practicality, these glorious glimpses into
transportation’s elusive future can speak to us on some deep level –
whispering perhaps to forsake that lumbering sport-utility for a slim
and mean aerocar, which will transport us in a blink of an eye to…
alas, the same old strip mall for groceries.

Picked mostly
from little-known Eastern Bloc publications, most of the concepts shown
here are the product of socialist and communist research, often as
unrealistic, as their leader’s plans for global utopia.

Soviet-dreamed Giant Catamaran – Supertanker – Icebreaker Hybrid:
(with parts of some nuclear submarine thrown in for good measure)

Fantastic Avionics

Russian concept of the rotor-plane, 1960:

Soviets also proposed to stick together a bunch of big airplanes to make a REALLY huge one. Kind of like a Lego dream come true:

This American concept shows the ultimate helicopter:
(at least the largest we’ve seen drawn on paper)

An interesting helicopter also can be found inside this issue of Startling Stories, 1940:

Ekranoplans & Hydrofoils

How can we not mention the "wing-in-ground-effect" liners? Russia was
crazy about ekranoplans and hydrofoils for some time. Here is an
ultimate replacement for a passenger airliner:
"The Glider" super hydrofoil, 1960

and a huge passenger/cargo ekranoplan:

German version of water/highway transport system, more focused on personal transport:

Russian Spiral Vehicle

is a vehicle that literally "screws around a lot" to get somewhere.
Never mind the possibility of it being built (there was actually some
talk about prototypes spotted in the Russian Army), the vehicle like
this would need a lot of "personal space" while it moves. Nobody wants
to end up wrapped around the spirals like some kind of spaghetti.

Spirals/ screws were popular in the US, too. Witness "The Sea Slug" –

Russian climbing robot personal vehicle. Good to climb the walls of your office building when late for work:

American Dream produced some dreamy vehicles

America saw a lot of big and powerful cars in the 50s-60s (see some of them here).
But first, American Transportation Dream required a wide system of
interstates across the country. Here is a vision of the robotic highway-making machine, which would only require a single operator (from 1943):

Beautiful supertruck, imagined by the US Royal Tires:

Strangely sinister-looking atomic truck. Raw Nuclear Power!

Artists dreamed of futuristic cars, hurtling down the highway:

Meet the Jetsons! Futuristic version of "yabba-dabba-doo" in the sky:

This aerocar concept from 1967 looks just like my old trusty barbeque in the backyard, complete with the burners.

the bottom vehicle in this MAI Russian concept line-up from 1955. Seems
like some ideas can float in the air… and across the ocean:

Flying car, according to the Soviet designers, 1967:

and American Modern Mechanix version, much earlier:

Bizarre Offerings

True Rollerball! "Trade you trouble for a bubble"?!
(gets my vote for the dumbest ad one-liner):

Octagonal Wheeled Watercraft from 1935 issue of Popular Science:

Strange wheel placement:

Goofy-looking Modern Mechanix sphere-wheeled vehicles:

"navi-trucks" will traverse the Earth, according to this 1933 vision.
They will be able to penetrain the hardest terrain – the ultimate
off-road! And a biggest SUV to boot.

saucers continue to pop up in the minds of designers, bringing with
them little green ideas. This is a "Flying Saucer Bus":

Monorail Dreams

some extreme cases, we’d rather say – "monorail hallucinations"… A
concept proposed by Popular Science magazine for the World’s Fair in
(cars, passengers all cozy up together inside a cage in the sky)

This (almost) got made: (almost) realistic proposal for rapid transit in Washington, D.C. by D.C. Transit System, Inc., 1959:

Elements of "shark fin" car design can be traced in this 1962 Goodell Monorail:

This monorail is… unhappy:

Russian version, 1973:

Another Russian concept: "Monorail SuperTrain". Double size everything:

German version of a similar Super-Train:

tube train system. Looks good, but if it gets too complex, the maze of
tunnels might suddenly snap into the 4th dimension. Read A. J.
Deutsch’s story
"A Subway Called Moebius", where "the system becomes so tangled that it
turns into a Moebius strip, and trains start to disappear":

Not a monorail, but a super-size train nevertheless:

Moby Air – the Flying Luxury Hotel

Presented in this issue of Popular Science, this brainchild of Worldwide Aeros Corporation has pretty good specs and will carry 288 passangers in ultimate luxury to the cruising altitude of 8000 ft.

we’ve seen a similar supership design in the Soviet magazine TM, in
1971. It’s much bigger, and nuclear-powered (of course!)
(click to enlarge)

Also check out this screwy-looking dirigable:
Revolving spiral vanes on the gas container propel it firmly through the air.

Bohn Designs from 1947

Finally, a series of classic concept transportation images from Bohn – aluminum & brass company from Michigan.

Yet nothing beats this steampunk "Flying Steam Liner". It can single-handedly cause a global warming, we’re sure:

This is Part 3 of the "Retro-Future" series. Read also parts 1 and 2

  1. Wow! This really is 1 of the most beneficial blogs I’ve ever occur across on this subject. Merely Amazing

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