Some of them we ride in daily. Others … not so much seen – or?
And so easy to park. This extendable caravan, built by a French engineer in 1934, make a Hummer stretch limo look awfully tame. Perfect for extended families.
This sleek ATV circa 1936 sported a five-axel independent suspension to make descending steep slopes fun to watch.
This 1924 variation on a locomotive cowcatcher promised to reduce Parisian pedestrian casualties.
As you can tell by the expression on this young Parisian’s face, nothing could could be more fun than taking a spin on a spokeless single-wheel motorcycle from the late 1920s.
Parallel parking. An elevator parking lot in early 1920s hoisted cars on individual platforms to save space.
‘Lift your legs or lose your toes, ma cherie.’ A radio-controlled lawn mower in Paris in 1960.
No need to worry about those hard-to-reach places when you can just hose yourself with suntan lotion for a dime. Model Betty Dutter demonstrates the finer points of the Sun-Tan Lotion dispenser at the Annual Vending Machine Convention in Chicago, Jan. 19, 1949.
Forget the cup holder — brew a fresh cup at 60 miles per hour with this 1950 dashboard coffeemaker from Germany. The manufacturer helpfully suggested that it could also be used or preparing soups, boiling eggs or heating water for washing or shaving.
Before the 8-track tape was a gleam in your eye, the German Phillips Company developed this in-dash record player dubbed the ‘Auto Mignon’ in 1959. Slip a single in the slot and hit the gas. Keeping your eyes on the road is overrated.
A visitor to the New York High Fidelity Show in 1960 marvels at a turntable that can play on the ceiling, a device that failed to turn the world upside down.
“You missed a spot, darling.” The “Power Mower of the Future” is demonstrated in Port Washington, Wis., Oct 14, 1957. Sporting a five-foot diameter plastic sphere in which the rider sits, it has its own electric generating system for operating running lights, a radio telephone, air conditioning and even a cooling system to provide a chilled drink on a hot day. What American wife wouldn’t be thrilled?
This Arkay combination hi-fi and television console named “Fantasia” was exhibited at the High Fidelity Music Show in New York, on Oct. 9, 1959. The wing section, which swiveled in any direction, housed a whopping 21-inch TV and a ‘full range hi-fi stereo speaker system.’
Half car, half boat and all fun. Inventor Karl Baier, at the wheel, and a passenger, test out the midget amphibious car that was developed by Baier in West Berlin, Germany, Jan. 22, 1952.
Speaking of hybrids of dubious utility, here is Eric Kemp, an aircraft engineer from Melbourne, Australia, testing his airplane motorcycle on a Melbourne road, Sept. 23, 1957. While incapable of flight, it raised the bar for silly looking rides.
In the past century, the speed of technological innovation has increased to a mindboggling blur. Of course not every big idea took flight. If necessity is the mother of invention then here is a gallery of her forgotten children. Take this one-wheel motorcycle invented by Italian M. Goventosa de Udine. It could reach a maximum speed of 93 miles per hour. What could possibly go wrong?