Buckminster Fuller’s Fish-Shaped People Carrier 


Bucky was far-sighted; fine details eluded him, even with his glasses on. He only thought big, and his 1933 design for the ultimate vehicle was no exception. More like a ship or a plane than a car, the Dymaxion was fish-shaped, three-wheeled, and had rear steering. It could turn on a dime- literally. It also sat 11 people, had a top speed of 120 miles/hour, and had fuel efficiency of 30 miles per gallon – over 3X better than a modern van of comparable size. But no-one wanted it; they called it a “freak car”, partly because an accident on the way to Chicago’s World Fair killed a man. Though the newspapers misreported the cause of the accident, there is also the possibility that the less fuel-efficient car manufacturers, like Chrysler, were pretty serious about keeping the competition behind the green flag. One of three prototypes Fuller built is still in existence though, on display at the National Auto Museum. It was once used as a chicken coop, demonstrating that inventions can have many lives. Now that some of Bucky’s other far-sighted ideas have proven to be valid (like the geometric formation of the third pure form of carbon, C60, otherwise known as Bucky balls), perhaps it is also time to take a look at some of the features of his transportation ideas. Or his prepackaged houses. Or his floating cities.

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