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Fascination-1969

Fascination-1969

Paul M. Lewis started an airplane company in Denver, CO in the 1930s, to construct VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) aircraft. Shortly after, Lewis designed an economical car for the masses he planned on selling for $300. It took the form of a three-wheeled aerodynamic automobile called the “Airomobile”.

The first rendering of that body was penned by John Tjaarda, a Dutch automotive stylist and engineer who worked on projects such as the first Chrysler Airflow and the first Lincoln Zephyr. Tjaarda was intrigued with the research of Hungarian, Paul Jaray, the early aeronautical genius behind the aerodynamic teardrop shape of German Zeppelins, Audi, Benz, and Adler prototypes, as well as the Tatra T-77 and T-87.

In 1937, two former Franklin Automobile Co. engineers, Carl Doman and Ed Marks brought Lewis’s Airomobile to fruition. The vehicle was powered by a newly-engineered, air-cooled OHV flat-four with 57 hp, which drove the front wheels through Spicer constant velocity joints derived from Citroën components. The single rear wheel didn’t even have a brake. Lewis drove it all over the US proving its 43.6 mpg frugality. Despite restyling and reengineering, Lewis couldn’t raise sufficient financial backing for production. The only Airomobile prototype is in the National Automobile Museum in Reno, NV.

In the late 60s, Lewis established the Highway Aircraft Corporation at the former U.S. Army Depot near Sidney, Nebraska, and produced a rear propeller-driven prototype car. But an accident during its demonstration forced Lewis to abandon his idea and both the engine and propeller were removed. Instead, a Volkswagen, air-cooled Type 3 engine was installed in the tail end. To gain interest from the public it was put on display at several dealerships, including the Stapleton Airport in Denver. Though this prototype proved to be ultimately unsuccessful, the design inspired his next “Fascination” series of automobiles. It is not known why exactly Lewis was removed from the project by stockholders shortly after production started, but remarkably, the four additional Fascination cars still exist in private collections. The Fascination you see on display here is the Fascination #1 prototype.

Specifications:
Manufacturer: Highway Aircraft Corporation
Country of Origin: USA
Drivetrain Configuration:
Engine: Volkswagen Type 3, air-cooled, fuel-injected, flat-four engine, 1,493cc, 65hp
Transmission: Automatic three-speed
Top speed: 130 mph
Years Produced: 1969-1974
Number Produced: 5 total Fascinations
Cost: Unknown

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