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R. Buckminster Fuller Collection Architect, Systems Theorist, Designer, and Inventor

What was the Dymaxion Car?

Around the same time that Bucky began planning the Dymaxion House, he also began designing a car that would be lightweight, aerodynamic, and efficient. Bucky worked with a yacht designer named Starling Burgess to design a very lightweight shell for the car, consisting of a sturdy wooden frame covered with aluminum panels. The three-wheeled Dymaxion Car could seat up to eleven people and travel at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour.

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Bucky hoped that the Dymaxion Car would allow people to travel comfortably and efficiently, perhaps to and from their Dymaxion homes. Unfortunately, the car also tended to be unstable, particularly in windy conditions, and was difficult to steer. Bucky's car was unveiled to the public at the World's Fair in Chicago in October 1933, and as the car was being driven, a freak accident led to a fatal crash in which one of the three passengers died. As a result, many people who had been interested in the Dymaxion Car were scared off and felt the car might be unsafe. In later years, Bucky would work on a smaller, more stable version of the Dymaxion Car, but his cars were never commercially built or sold to the public.