Ford Levacar Mach 1

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It’s so boring bumping along on tires, so old fashioned. We were doing it long before Ford’s ancient Model T made the scene. Why not do away with wheels altogether and drive a sleek little pod that glides on air? A flurry of interest in hovercraft, airplane/car hybrids, and air cars raged during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Curtis-Wright nearly went bankrupt developing a working air car.

Ford's levitating Levacar Mach I was one concept car that walked the walk, actually flying around a track in those optimistic days when it seemed like the perfect ride for a limitless future. 

Ford's single-seat space coupe was tethered to an arm, enabling it to glide smoothly above a circular glass track. The tiny car was suspended just slightly above the surface by ducted air from pads on its underside. An attached arm guided it around a display in Ford’s famous Rotunda.

Ford promotional materials projected that the single-seat, fiberglass-bodied Levacar might be capable of reaching speeds of five hundred miles per hour, but its utter lack of brakes might have made that a one-time experiment.

Ford gave away thousands of plastic promotional models of their exciting new air car. AMT produced a popular model kit that came complete with a rubber hose that kids could blow in to levitate their toys like the real thing. Unfortunately, those tiny plastic models are all that's left of Ford's bold air car experiment. And we're still bumping along on rubber tires, just like Ford's Model T.

Written by Jim Cherry