In the 1950s and early 1960s General Motors, Chrysler and Ford raced each other to develop increasingly outlandish dream cars which they claimed we would drive in the future.
Ford’s most wacky car was the 1961 Gyron. It was develop to counteract the enormous amount of publicity General Motors had gained for its winged, finned and jet-engined Firebird III.
Not content with four wheels, Ford designer and Gyron champion, Alex Tremulis, insisted it have only two of the round objects – one at the front and one at the back.
Balance was achieved by gyroscopes, or so Ford’s PR department said. Trouble was, keen eyed observers noticed two small wheels dropped from the sides to support it. “Only used when parking,” was the PR reply.
The Gyron was big, at 5.3 metres in length, but it held just two occupants. They sat side by side in moulded plastic chairs that look like those stackable things you sit on ion the beer garden at your local pub.
Entry and exit was via a clear plastic canopy that was raised and lowered electrically. All the usual space age gadgets were said to be on board. Steering was via a small console-mounted dial.
No one really took it seriously. Those who saw the car knew that it was never destined to sit along a Falcon in a dealership showroom.
Mind you, the car’s designer Alex Termulis did take it all very seriously.
He had started his career with the US Air Force, styled the 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt dream car, and worked on the concept of military flying saucers.
Alex then became the chief designer for the ill-fated Tucker automobile. He joined Ford and worked in the advance styling studio.
The original Gyron, which was red, was destroyed in the 1962 in a fire. Only a small, white model remained. It was sold at an auction in 2012 for $US40,000.
David Burrell is the editor of retroautos.com.au