Dymaxion Car at the National Automobile Museum – Reno, Nevada - Atlas Obscura

Dymaxion Car at the National Automobile Museum

The only surviving prototype of Buckminster Fuller's revolutionary car. 


One of innovator and creator Buckminster Fuller’s ideas to use design to improve humanity was the Dymaxion Car.

Part of his “dymaxion” line of inventions, its name a mix of dynamic, maximum, and tension, this car was designed in a teardrop shape with three wheels and space for 11 passengers. It also had incredible gas mileage for its size at 30 miles per gallon, and it could reach up to 90 miles per hour. Sculptor Isamu Noguchi was involved in its futuristic aerodynamic design. 

Three prototypes were built between 1933 and 1934. Unfortunately, the car got some incredibly bad PR when it was involved in a fatal wreck at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. While it would turn out that another car was at fault, people became suspicious of the car’s stability and its funders backed out.

Prototype #1 was eventually destroyed, and prototype #3 is presumed lost to a scrap pile; however, prototype #2 is on display at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada. It went through several owners and suffered significant deterioration, but the hope is to restore it so that it might operate again as Buckminster Fuller dreamed. There is only one Dymaxion Car in working order today, built by architect Sir Norman Foster, a devout follower of Fuller. It was recreated as prototype #4 in 2010. 

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