Retro Future: Glorious Transportation Update

Link - article by Avi Abrams

Transportation Futurism: making you hate your current family car since 1951

You've seen our update on Retro Future: Space Art and the previous part of Transportation Showcase. Today we continue the series with transportation-related illustrations and concepts from popular science and science fiction magazines - most of them rarely seen examples from unlikely sources, such as vintage Communist Youth magazine illustrations, or fantastic covers from international book editions.

(image via)

The car above may look like a modified shampoo bottle, but it also projects the ideas of the 1960s optimism and great expectations for future transportation in general.

This was the dream back in 1951 (by the legendary illustrator Arthur Radebaugh):

(image credit: Art Radebaugh for the National Oil Seals print ad)

And another from the master: this time we see the humble bus stop from the futuristic world of the 1940s-1950s:

(image credit: Art Radebaugh for the National Oil Seals print ad)

How are we going to get to the future like this? Well, according to The March of Progress published in 1952 issue of Popular Mechanics, it's going to happen.... gradually (hopefully you can sense the irony in my words):

("Science on the March", Popular Mechanics, January 1952 - illustrated by A. Leydenfrost, via)


Flying cars were all the rage back then, and are all the rage today (still!)

Here is very rare personal helicopter concept from 1943 (one of the very first of this kind), by Alex S. Tremulis (more info):

(image via)

The "Flying Carpet" Car: why don't you let the dog in?

(image via)

This is probably my favorite vision... flying car highway system (apparently very safe), complete with pit stops and gas stations:

(original unknown)

Here is a gas station and futuristic "pit stop" for flying cars, according to legendary Syd Mead:

(art by Syd Mead from his book "Sentinel")

Another gas station concept from 1948 - this time by Art Radebaugh:

(image via)

This is probably the best rendition of flying car culture that we've seen so far (featuring also very interesting fashion ideas):

(art by Syd Mead from his book "Sentinel")

Flying Saucers for Everybody! Via 1954... see another image spread from this issue here:

(left image via; right image by Art Radebaugh)

Convertible Jet Helicopters from 1948:

(image via)

This spherical Sputnik-like concept is probably the strangest we've seen (art by Russ Heath):

(image via)

Pogo Police Car?.. and why not? Looks certainly intimidating in your back mirror. Concept by Art Radebaugh from 1958:

(image via)


Highways of the Future!

(illustration by Japanese artist Shigeru Komatsuzaki)

... and as imagined by Arthur Radebaugh in a 1952 ad for National Oil Seals:

(image via)

Here is the dream that gradually gets closer to reality: cars that drive themselves, without us even looking at the road:

... and the modern version of the image above (from German artist Gunther Radtke):

(image via)

"The Roads That Glow" seems to be a special safety feature, conceived by Art Radebaugh for RCA Transistors Run Electronic Car of Tomorrow (1964):

...Or imagine riding in a highway Family Cruiser concoction like the ones shown on Mechanix Illustrated cover:

(image via)

If you think that the concept above is just too wild to be ever realized, think again. Swedish company Gray Design came with the modern version of the Beach Cruiser! And it looks simply fantastic:

(images via)

But all this pales in comparison with the Cross-Country Cruise Ship! (I hope the designers of this monstrosity were joking):

(image via)

Laying down the highway with the help of some impressive machinery:

(image via)

Another super-mighty machine laying down the highway, which flows out of it "like a magic ribbon", according to Art Radebaugh:

(image via)


Futuristic Covers Bliss

Our traditional smattering of the Popular Mechanics and Popular Science magazine covers from the 1930s-1950s:

Mono-cycles... giant planes... boat gliders imagined and drawn out in detail:

"Science and Invention" cover from 1924 shows the gargantuan Submarine-Land Dreadnaught bristling with cannons and radio antennas:

Is this the automobile from 1973? Well, according to 1923 cover of "Science and Invention", we should've had such machines long ago:

Another "Science and Invention" way back from 1921 depicts the outrageous concepts of Trans-Atlantic Sea Wheel:

Great propeller-powered monorail-bus hybrid from the pages of 1935 "Popular Science": this was called Gyro-Bus - read more about such vehicles here.

(image via)

Another incredible tube-monorail train concept from the German artist Gunther Radtke:

(image via)

Giant boats were really gigantic back in the days, in the minds of concept artists. Here is the Incredible World Skyways Inc. flying boat from 1943:

(image via)

1956 Future Freighter concept (left image) and Trip-o-Matic! (internet booking seems to have fulfilled this dream):

(images via)

Great hovercraft concept from 1959 (art by Frank Tinsley):

(image via)

Speaking of nice visual presentation of existing unusual transportation designs, old Soviet magazines did a pretty good job: here is a chart of all varieties of Air-Cushion Vehicles, according to "Tekhnika Molodezhi" Soviet magazine from the 1960s:

(image credit: "Tekhnika Molodezhi", 1965)


Modern Personal Transportation Concepts

This is pretty conventional idea by now - alternating between an aerodynamic profile and more compact size profile, for better parking: the first design is by Christian Forg, and the other concept is from General Motors itself: GM EN-V, more info:

(images via 1, 2)

Next in line is this wild combination of a modular cabin set on a double wheel: the TW-Transporter by Harsha Vardhan - more info

(image via)

The IPSE Individual Mobility concept lets you drive in the underwater mode, plus it looks really cool:

(image via)

Here is another great-looking personal mobillity concept by Jeongche Yoon:

(image credit: Jeongche Yoon)

Feast your eyes on this smorgasbord of personal mobility vehicles; click on the links under images for more information about these projects:

(G1 Car by Karthik Narayan; Urban Commuter Bike by Tobias Bexten)

(Toyota i-Real concept and Honda U3-X)

(left: original unknown; right "The Explicit" personal mobility vehicle by Kenyon Yeh)

(The Hawk by Alexander Hodge and VW 2020 Personal Transport Future Car by Sergio Luna)

(GEM Peapod electric car; and Suzuki SSC Sharing Coach concept)

(more Toyota concept vehicles for personal mobility: PM and another picture of i-Real)

Probably the coolest-looking of the bunch is the Proxima bike-car hybrid concept:

(image via)

And we'll finish with the personal monorail concept from New Zealand’s Shweeb Monorail Technology:

(images via)

So... you can zip around the city without fears of collisions, accidents or getting into a traffic jam. Provided there is a rail going to where you want to go, of course (they cannot possibly have a rail going to your grocery store, do they?) Anyway, we are happy that there is a multitude of concepts on the drawing boards today, and some are even considered for urban transportation in certain cities. Looks like the future has arrived at least in the minds and creativity of modern car designers (and hopefully urban planners). Let us know about the futuristic concepts of transportation that we missed - and stay tuned for more Retrofuture installments in the series!

P.S. and if all else fails, you can always use this method of transportation:

(original unknown)

Article by Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.





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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Avi, could you do one day a special about the brothers Rudolf and Robbert Das? they illustrated amazing books about the future that I think you would like.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

very nice post! by the way, the unknown car next to the explicit mobility vehicle is the c'mm'n car, an open source future mobility project by three Dutch technical universities. www.cmmn.org

Blogger Unknown said...

Very handsome images, thanks. The spherical bubble-car concept by artist Russ Heath is a Sputnik-inspired spoof rendered for the February 1958 issue of Harvey Kurtzman's Humbug. As originally published, call-outs surrounding the illustration note the satellite's many features, which include "functional tailfins" and "Hollywood mufflers." Text below the art reveals that this American satellite has "get-away power enabling it to effortlessly pass other satellites." In another nod to Futurism, the text says that "no other satellite has the FORWARD look"--Kurtzman's riff on Chrysler Corporation's "Forward Look" design theme that the company introduced for 1955, and that reached an apex with the long and low-slung Chrysler cars of 1957-61. The company theme for 1957, in fact, was "Suddenly, it's 1960!"


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