The Ten Craziest Failed Flying Cars

Wouldn't life be easier if you could just get into your flying car and soar over traffic jams straight to work? We asked Jalopnik readers to come up with ten examples of this awful dream, killing people and ruining lives.

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Photo Credit: Paleofuture/Tom Z.

The Ten Craziest Failed Flying Cars

10.) The Simcopter

Suggested By: Kate's Dirty Sister

Why it failed: Aeronautical designer David Dobbins tried to build a half car/half helicopter out of a French Simca back in 1957. Called the Simcopter, it was powered by a 300-horsepower Lycoming aircraft engine. It managed to get five feet off the ground, but that was as far as it would go.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Henthorn

The Ten Craziest Failed Flying Cars

9.) Piasecki VZ-8 Airgeep

Suggested By: Aaron Curry

Why it failed:In 1957, when Popular Science was busily publishing a flying car of the future story every five minutes, the Army contracted out the design of a flying jeep to Piasecki Helicopter. It was first called the Model 59K Skycar, then the Airgeep, and then the VZ-8P when it flew in '58.

A few successful flying tests went on through 1962 when the government realized that a 550 horsepower flying jeep was significantly less effective at getting people around than a helicopter and they cancelled the project.

Photo Credit: Mytwocents

The Ten Craziest Failed Flying Cars

8.) Pescara's 1921 car-copter

Suggested By: shortyoh

Why it failed: Raúl Pateras Pescara was an early innovator with helicopters and one of his designs was this, an enclosed, streamlined car fitted with his then-current helicopter design. Pescara only managed to get a helicopter prototype in the air in 1922, a year after the patent for the car-copter was filed, so this thing was probably never built.

Photo Credit: Raúl Pateras Pescara

The Ten Craziest Failed Flying Cars

7.) Hafner Rotabuggy

Suggested By: Aaron Curry

Why it failed: This was the British attempt at making a flying jeep, designed and built in the midst of WWII. British engineers found out you could drop a Willys Jeep almost eight feet off the ground without any damage to the vehicle, so they went on to fix one with a tailfin and a rotor, but no rudder.

It actually flew a few times, getting dropped out of a bomber and flying around at 65 miles an hour in 1944. By then, the military figured out you could just build gliders that weren't insanely complicated to build and fly, so they cancelled the project.

Photo Credit: Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment

The Ten Craziest Failed Flying Cars

6.) Brunel University flying car

Suggested By: Jonee

Why it failed: Apparently back in 2004, Top Gear approached Brunel University to build a flying car like the one in The Man With The Golden Gun. A few months later the TG crew showed up with a Rover metro and set the university students with the task of making a flying car out of it.

They didn't have enough time to finish building the car in the three weeks Top Gear gave them before returning with a camera crew, James May, and the Stig. It never took off, so it was never filmed.

Photo Credit: jonnogray.blogspot.com/Top Gear

The Ten Craziest Failed Flying Cars

5.) 1917 Curtiss Autoplane

Suggested By: hexagonist

Why it failed: This American design was reportedly the first flying car ever built, though it only managed a few hops before the US entered into The Great War and the project was cancelled.

Photo Credit: Curtiss/flyingmachines.ru

The Ten Craziest Failed Flying Cars

4.) Rene Tampier's aeroplane-car

Suggested By: minardi

Why it failed: This thing could be best described as a roadable aircraft. It was a plane built and successfully flown in 1921 by the Paris-based Rene Tampier. It had a 300 horsepower Hispano Suiza engine. A full description of how this single prototype worked can be found here, but there's no information on how or why the project was cancelled.

Photo Credit: Rene Tampier/corpusetampois.com

The Ten Craziest Failed Flying Cars

3.) Model 118 ConvairCar

Suggested By: hexagonist

Why it failed: Only two of these things were built by Ted Hall of Convair. He hoped to make 160,000 of these things, but a small design flaw ended up ruining the program.

The Model 118 had to have two fuel tanks – one for the car engine and one for the plane engine. That meant two fuel gauges. In 1947, a test pilot took off in a prototype. He thought he had a full tank of airplane fuel, but had read the wrong gauge. He crashed and died, and the program was cancelled the next year.

Photo Credit: Ben Ross

2.) Moller M200X saucer

Suggested By: ChiefPontiaxe

Why it failed: Moller International gets some press every year for its Skycar, a somewhat-functional flying machine. Deeper in the Moller corporation, are even crazier projects that get no recognition other than for being completely insane. Such is the case with his flying saucer, the M200X Neuera.

It was reportedly going into production in 2007. If it ever becomes a viable flying craft, I'll eat my shoe.

The Ten Craziest Failed Flying Cars

1.) AVE Mizar

Suggested By: hexagonist

Why it failed: Do you know how much time, money, and engineering expertise it takes to design a successful airplane? It's certainly more than sticking the back half of a Cessna Skymaster onto a Ford Pinto.

On two test flights in 1973, the right wing strut of a prototype AVE Mizar separated from the body of the Pinto. On the first flight, the test pilot managed to successfully land the plane. On the second flight, this time with the founder Henry Smolinski and his business associate onboard, the Mizar crashed and burned. Both occupants and the project itself were dead.

Photo Credit: Doug Duncan