1959: The Introduction of an Air-Propelled Automobile

May 20, 1959

The Ford Motor Company introduced the concept model of the Levacar Mach I, an air-propelled automobile, in the Ford Rotunda in Dearborn, Michigan. The guiding force behind the design for the single-passenger, wheels-free Levacar was Andrew A. Kucher, vice president of engineering for the Ford Motor Company and the head of its scientific laboratory.

Several design analysts and clay modelers were among those at the Ford Motor Company who worked under Kucher’s leadership to help create the prototype of the Levacar. The red-and-cream-colored Levacar concept model took 25 days to build. It weighed 450 pounds (114.3 kilograms) and measured 4 feet (1.2 meters) high, 7.8 feet (2.4 meters) long, and 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) wide. The most ultramodern feature of the Levacar model was its ability to float slightly above the ground and move forward on a film of air. 

A press demonstration of the Levacar model was held on the day of its debut. “You feel as if you were getting ready for takeoff in a light plane,” reported Ben Phlegar, automotive writer for the Associated Press. “As the car speeds up, the sensation from the inside is one of considerable speed, and centrifugal force pushes you against the fancy, white leather upholstery.” Those who took turns taking the model for a ride along a Gluideair track system included William Clay Ford, Sr., grandson of the company’s founder. 

The model received an enthusiastic response from those who saw it in action during the exhibit at the Ford Rotunda, and many of the attendees were even given smaller versions of the Levacar as keepsakes. Ultimately, however, the Levacar – despite huge expectations for it as a futuristic means of high-speed ground transportation between major cities – never went beyond the concept model stage. It is believed that the model was destroyed when a fire engulfed the Ford Rotunda in 1962.

Photo Credit: Coachbuilt.com

For more information on the Ford Levacar Mach I, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Levacar_Mach_I

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