Daily demonstrations at 11am, free with admission!

Leyat Helico- 1919


Marcel Leyat was a degreed engineer who designed, built, and flew his first airplane in 1909. Leyat developed the belief that propeller-driven vehicles were the wave of the future, and in 1913, built his first propeller-driven car. He tested this 1913 car extensively, and in 1919 Leyat began production of the model you see here. There were other people who also shared Leyat’s belief about propeller power, but Leyat spent years trying to develop a viable propeller-driven car. His theory was that the cars would be simpler (no transmission, rear axle, or clutch) and lighter, therefore they would be able to obtain better fuel economy. If you look at the Leyat closely, you can see how exquisite the engineering is. Leyat paid very close attention to aerodynamics and weight. The body, resembling an airplane, is fully streamlined – as is the front axle – to reduce drag. Instead of using traditional wheels, Leyat built his own with aluminum discs, and integrated the brakes to further reduce the drag. Weight s also reduced to a minimum by using a full monocoque chassis and many aluminum parts to obtain a total vehicle weight of 625 lbs. Leyat showed his car at the 1921 Paris Auto Show and claims to have received 600 inquiries. Unfortunately, Leyat was never able to get funding to go into large-scale production, but he continued to build propeller-driven cars until about 1926, with a total production of about 25 cars.