A while back, I had a delightfully terrible idea to use spacecraft-type maneuvering rockets to make a better-handling race car. I thought I was pretty clever, but then I saw this picture of a Corvair with a rocket strapped to its side way back in the '60s.

The picture, which I saw posted on Oppo by Demon-Xanth, turns out to be from a Popular Science article from 1964. The short article has this to say about the rig:

A rocket engine mounted on the side of a new car shows GM research engineers how it will react to any kind of crosswind.

The rocket’s thrust, from 50 to 200 pounds, can be accurately controlled, and the rocket can be mounted anywhere on the car. Instruments in the back seat record effect. Formerly, engineers drove a car through a blast from a propeller, but the quick passage was disadvantageous.


This really is essentially exactly the same thing that I was proposing, just for very different purposes. It's even a hydrogen peroxide motor, which is the same type normally used on spacecraft RCS systems, since that particular fuel doesn't require an ignitor. It is pretty toxic stuff, but those test drivers got to drive a Corvair with a rocket attached, so that seems a fair trade-off.

I'd be willing to bet at least once these test drivers tried rigging up multiple rockets on the car to just have some crazy fun. If only YouTube was 50 or so years older, maybe we'd have some nice and bonkers video.


I also like that the disadvantage of driving past the giant propeller was that the effects were too short, not the constant danger of being mulched.