The endless creativity of the pioneers of motor transportation and the variety of their creations are what keep things interesting for us here at The Old Motor. It has been our “mission”, so to speak, to bring you interesting images and provide some historical information about them. But every now and then we come across photos of things that are great fun but so far out of the box that we can’t find out much about them. Such is the case today, so we invite you to join in with any information you might have about these unconventional machines.
To our eyes, the most practical of this group is the motorcycle/canoe combination in the our top photo. The starboard placement of the bike makes us think that it’s probably from the U.K., but as to the make, please tell us. The SIMO trike in our first thumbnail is a complete mystery to us. The caption on the second photo said that it’s The Grand Duke Alexis of Russia’s landau being drawn by a Heilmann electric tractor, c.1898.
Photos of Stout’s Scarab Number One from the “Automobile Trade Journal” of February 2, 1935.
The hard times of the Great Depression gave rise to a surprising number of innovative automobile designs penned by original thinkers, not the least of which was William Bushnell “Bill” Stout. By applying his thorough knowledge of aircraft construction techniques to his Scarabs, he created a series of vehicles that broke entirely new ground and were years ahead of their time.
Evidence of Stout’s vision became apparent very early in his life. It’s said that he carved one of the first airplane models out of wood at the age of 18 in 1898 and is credited with inventing the rubber band-powered model airplane. He first entered the automotive field with the Imp cycle car in 1913 which, although a successful design, reached the market at the end cycle car craze in the U.S.
After working for years in the aircraft industry that included a successful collaboration with Ford, a stint as chief engineer for Packard’s aircraft division and such significant achievements as the designing the first monoplane with an entirely internally braced wing, Stout re-entered the field of automobile design the early 1930′s. Completed in 1932, Scarab Number One was the result.
It’s design echoed his background in aircraft. An aluminum tube space frame kept weight to a minimum without sacrificing strength. Four wheel independent suspension was provided by high mounted aircraft-style coil spring “oleos” that are much like today’s ubiquitous MacPherson struts, one at each wheel with A-arms pivoted at the chassis center line in front and swing axles at the rear. Although no longer than contemporary conventional cars, it’s interior space was much greater, predating the modern minivan by fifty years.
Stout decried the use of the term “streamlined” when applied to his car stating that “a land vehicle cannot be streamlined.” Rather, he said that aerodynamic principles were applied to the shape of Scarab solely to provide stability in crosswinds. By all accounts, it worked.
The Scarab II in the “Automotive Trade Journal” of November, 1935
Unveiled in 1935, the Scarab II, seen above, was a further development of Stout’s forward thinking design. Although records are sketchy, sources say that nine were built between 1936 and 1939 with an eye toward eventual production. Stout made six coast-to-coast trips in his Scarab II in 1935 to promote the car during his tenure as president of the Society of Automotive Engineers and eventually racked up 89,000 miles it.
All photos above from “Automotive Industries” of November 2, 1935
There would be a Stout Scarab III produced in fiberglass in 1945 by Owens-Corning plastics engineers R. Games Slayter and Walter Krause in conjunction with Stout. Boasting such innovations as a hand laid fiberglass floor/chassis and the world’s first wrap around windshield done in safety glass, it would serve as the Stout family car until 1951. Previous posts covering the Stout can be found here on The Old Motor, including one showing some rare film footage. You can also see some other aerodynamic experimentals from the same era here.
A damp and dreary November 5th did not seem to deter these Vancouverites from running their morning errands. Our source says we’re looking north along the west side of Granville toward the Canadian National Railroad freight office. The James Inglis Reid, Ltd. shop at number 559 next door to the Campbell Studio (farside of the street) had been at this location since 1915. Reid gained famed in Vancouver as a purveyor of ham, bacon and other fine meats that he butchered and cured on site. He was proud of his Scottish heritage and did much to promote it’s traditions in Vancouver.
Other Scottish specialties such as white puddings, blood sausage and, of course, haggis could be found there and the neon sign on his marquee declaring “We Hae Meat That Ye Can Eat”, was a fixture in the neighborhood for many years. The every day cars lining the curb would certainly be welcome at any car show today. Aside from the late 20′s Auburn Convertible Coupe in the foreground and the pair of Fords directly across the street from it, which can you identify? Photo by Stuart Thomson used courtesy of the City of Vancouver. You’ll find many more scenes of daily life from their archives on The Old Motor.