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The Arrowbile – Just the Ticket for That Highway in the Sky

  • “With the wings off and power shifted from propeller to the rear axle, the Arrowbile is ready for the highway”, or so the promotional material said.

With the simultaneous development of the automobile and powered flight, it seems almost pre-ordained that sooner or someone would try to combine the two. In 1917, no less a light then Glenn Curtiss is believed to have been the first to actually build a prototype, although the idea had been kicking around for years even at that early date. Using a 100 horsepower OXX engine of his own design and a pusher prop, there is disagreement about whether his Autoplane ever actually flew.

Many others with the same dream followed Curtiss’ footsteps in the clouds. Familiar names like William B. Stout with his Stout Skycars and Moulton Taylor with his Aerocar  and others would try their hand at producing a marketable design, but no one ever quite pulled it off.

You see here one of the more successful attempts, Waldo Waterman’s 1937 Arrowbile. Using a Studebaker Commander 100 horsepower six cylinder engine, press reports said it was capable of 125 m.p.h. in the air, 75 m.p.h. on the ground and exhibited decent flight characteristics. The universal vision shared by all who built these was to put one within reach of the average motorist. Judging by the driving habits we’ve observed on our roads today, we think it’s just as well that none of them succeeded.

One response to “The Arrowbile – Just the Ticket for That Highway in the Sky

  1. You have to be as old as dirt to remember that in 1946 the idea of an automobile/airplane dual purpose vehicle was all the rage. But you also might know that the same wishful thinking went into the question; “what, with all the” labor saving” devices, when we have a 30 (or even 20) hour workweek, will American workers do with all that leisure time created? We never imagined a day when what we were up against was the question “can both working spouses work enough to afford a baby-sitter!

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