A Harrowing Test Drive of Buckminster Fuller’s 1933 Dymaxion Car: Art That Is Scary to Ride

In the 1930s, the systems theorist, designer and inventor Buckminster Fuller created the Dymaxion car — an aerodynamic concept car that managed to get 30 miles per gallon while topping out at 90 miles per hour, and transporting 11 passengers. Like Fuller’s Dymaxion house, the three-wheel Dymaxion car could be disassembled and re-assembled with ease. You can see vintage videos of both here.

The concept car didn’t get much beyond the concept stage. Only three original versions were built, one of which rolled over at the 1933 World’s Fair, leaving the driver dead, three passengers injured, and investors reluctant to bring the car to market. In 2010, the British architect Sir Norman Foster built a replica of the Dymaxion. You can see Dan Neil, of The Wall Street Journal, take the car on a harrowing test drive above. And if you’re intrigued enough to learn more, you can hunt down the 2012 documentary called The Last Dymaxion (watch a trailer of the film here).

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Related Content:

Everything I Know: 42 Hours of Buckminster Fuller’s Visionary Lectures Free Online (1975)

Better Living Through Buckminster Fuller’s Utopian Designs: Revisit the Dymaxion Car, House, and Map

Watch an Animated Buckminster Fuller Tell Studs Terkel All About “the Geodesic Life”

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Comments (7)
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  • Tony Youngblood says:

    Wait, isn’t this Jeff Lane’s 2015 replica featured, not Sir Norman Foster’s? Or are they one in the same? Jeff Lane appears in the video. That car is on display in Nashville, TN at the Lane Motor Museum: http://www.lanemotormuseum.org/103-audio-video/639-1933-dymaxion-replica-on-display-feb-26

  • Anne B. says:

    Wow – somebody put Jeremy Clarkson behind the wheel, and see what happens.

  • mike says:

    Like everything Fuller designed, this appears to be a POS.

  • Tedd says:

    Anne B: Priceless! It would be worth building another replica just to see that.

  • Dan says:

    Got to see Mr. Fuller give a lecture at Oregon State not long before he passed. Interesting guy.

  • Jerome says:

    One of the first uses of his Geodesic Dome was for protecting the radar sites for the DEW Line, the string of radar station across the the US-Canadian Arctic Circle. The Dew Line training station was located SW of Streator, Illinois.

    Our family farm was another 8 miles west of there and if you can imagine walking out on the porch and seeing a geodesic dome coming out of the cornfield, off on the horizon.

    In this time our local phone system still had crank telephones, you couldn’t imagine a more incongruous sight! High-tech, secret location out on the rural plains of the MidWest.

  • John C Dvorak says:

    How exactly is this Dymaxion Number One if it’s a replica? I doubt that the driving experience was anything like an original.

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