Helica, The Car That Made Air Travel Possible
This article serves to acquaint you with one of the rarest and long forgotten means of land transportation - the airmobile. They did not have a mechanical drive to the wheels and were driven only by reactive traction force created by a powerful airflow from a propeller. Being direct relatives of airplanes, these machines, set in motion by airflow, could rush at a breakneck speed. It seemed to give them wings, and they, having turned into flying machines, would soar high into the sky. This never came to fruition though and they were forever grounded in the firm, flat roads.
This video is a compilation of ancient footage of the “Helica” Propeller Car, shot somewhere circa 1924. You are watching history here folks!
The “Helica” was invented by Marcel Leyat in Paris. It was driven by a giant propeller powered by an 80 HP V-8 Scorpion engine. The engine had an open valvegear built by the All-British Engine Company. Just in front of it was a large radiator. On the trip up from Southampton, the engine was run at 900 rpm, giving a propeller thrust of about 330 pounds. However, the body was made of plywood which meant that it weighed just 5501lb, making it dangerously fast. Interestingly enough, this car was built, not as a transportation device in its own right, but to test airplane propellers. A total of 30 were eventually sold.