Why, did prop-driven cars fail to take off, even though they accomplished some noteworthy strides? Can you keep up with the Helica (or is it the Helicron)? Take this quiz to find out!
Propeller-driven cars had unique, distinctive body shapes. What inspired the design of prop-driven cars?
It's advantageous for all vehicles to move through the air as efficiently as possible, but for propeller cars, it's especially important. Designers of prop-driven cars studied airplanes to understand how to direct air through the propeller but reduce wind resistance around the car's cockpit.
We're accustomed to automobiles that function like living rooms -- temperature controlled with entertainment at the ready, isolated from the hazards of the road. But prop-driven cars offered a much different sensory experience. Why was the cockpit open, despite the obvious dangers?
Open cockpits were typical of automobiles and aircraft of the era.
Driver and passenger safety wasn't really a priority at the time; everyone was used to open-air vehicles. Even though some engineers encased the propellers within protective shrouds, the whirling blades still significantly increased the possibility of injury.
It was the best way to enjoy the aromas of the French countryside.
Engineers were experimenting with ejection seats, and didn't want a roof to get in the way of a bailout.
The propeller was on either the front or the back of the car's body.
Designers experimented with the propeller's location. Both front and back mounts worked, but each design had specific problems. A front-mounted prop will create considerable discomfort for the car's occupants from wind resistance and airborne objects; the rear option is only efficient on a tapered body profile.
What kind of engine was originally in the Helicron?
An ABC Scorpion engine
The Helicron was designed with an ABC Scorpion engine, but is currently powered by a Citroen GS 1.3 liter powerplant that can achieve a cruising speed of 30 to 40 miles per hour (48.3 to 64.4 kilometers per hour).
What was the fastest way to stop a prop-driven car?
Push the brake pedal
Reverse the propeller's direction
Although prop-driven cars did have brakes, there was a faster way to slow down or stop. The driver could use the throttle to reverse the propeller (make it spin in the other direction) which instantly created a lot of air resistance and stopped the car. Drifting wasn't really an option without a transmission, clutch, or emergency brake.
The French Blue paint popular on prop-driven cars would be declared unpatriotic in America.
Prop-driven cars were so dangerous, it was only a matter of time before someone famous was decapitated.
Prop-driven cars would eventually become so popular, they would hurt the airplane industry.
In 1912, The New York Times described a hypothetical future in which all disillusioned car owners could remedy their woes by throwing "the offending details on the scrap heap" and modifying their cars with propellers, causing airplane makers to weep for the future.