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Propeller cars

The beginnings of propeller cars


In the early 1900s, engineers began to explore the fields of design with propeller-driven vehicles and a number of extreme, absurd, and dangerous vehicles were created. The first were crazy looking armored vehicles that were used by the military with the "Sizaire-Berwick Vent Wagon" from 1905.



The advantages of propeller cars?


In the early twentieth century, the inventors were exploring all the solutions to advance vehicles, and propeller was one of them, as much to say that it is an exploratory concept as the advent of a new technology. The idea is not however eccentric, technologically speaking it is not innovative since already used in aviation and maritime among others and allows to have the advantage of getting rid of transmission, clutch, brakes and a bunch of other heavy and bulky systems. It remains to be seen what is the practicality and reliability of such devices.



Marketing of propeller cars


Surprisingly, despite the interesting concept, he only had one model offered for sale to the general public, the Helica designed by Marcel Leyat in 1919, in 1920 only the first models


23 units were produced, weighing only 300 kg, for a top speed that peaked at 100 km / h with two passengers on board, a real feat for the time. It should be noted that the Helica could hardly be described as an automobile since this machine had no gearbox, no chassis, or no transmission part.


Only the propeller did the job, watch out for drafts! Mr Leyat even went so far as to build a special prototype which reached 170 km / h on the Monthéry ring. Marcel Leyat was an aviator, so he built a car that looked like an airplane. It is a rational solution but it has some drawbacks: it is very windy, does not work in reverse and does not like hills.



But the interest of propeller cars decimated until the 1930s when the idea of a propeller car turned out to be quite interesting for Germany, which wanted to assert its all economic and industrial power. The "Schlörwagen" built in 1936 is still as fascinating as ever.



The circumstances of its creation (during the Third Reich) and the loss of the only prototype contribute to the myth of this car. Schlör, an engineer for Krauss Maffei of Munich, proposed an ultra-low drag body as early as 1936. Under Schlör's supervision at the AVA (an aerodynamic testing institute in Göttingen), a model was built. Subsequent wind tunnel testing yielded an extraordinarily low drag coefficient of 0.113. For a functional model, a Mercedes-Benz 170H chassis, one of their few rear engine models was used. The aluminum body was built by the Ludewig brothers from Essen. Subsequent testing of the powered model showed a slightly higher but still impressive drag coefficient of 0.186.

The Schlörwagen was built on a modified Mercedes 170 H chassis. In 1942 the prototype was fitted with a captured Soviet aircraft engine and driven to a test track. Its streamlined shape could have been created on a computer for an automotive design competition, or for a Hollywood production.



He also had in 1932 "HELICRON" which is a very interesting model discovered in France in a barn, there is little. Completely restored, the original four-stroke engine was replaced by an air-cooled - Citroen GS - four-cylinder engine (with the propeller directly coupled to the crankshaft). It has been found to be safe for the roads of France, and can reach a top speed of 100 km / h.



On notera ensuite cette bizarrerie qui sera capable qu'en même d'atteindre les 120 km/h.


After the Second World War, there will be some fun model releases, but which will not know the success expected at the beginning of the story.



The reasons for the failure of the propeller car


The non-commercial success is mainly due to the fact that this technology could not be used in urban centers and is intended for extreme climates (cold and hot), some snowmobiles have been in service.

To read the story of this propeller vehicle designed for Algeria, click on the photo.