- Written by webmin
So what does everybody make of this? We recently heard from George Albright of Ocala, Florida, who has sent us photos of some of the unusual cars he’s bought in the past, and who just recently bought this, well, vehicle, with only the vaguest idea of what it is. Supposedly, it was built in about 1950 at the Grumman factory in Wichita, Kansas, and the four men in the photographs are identified as Cameron Bailey, Max Roy, Kelly Krentz, and A. A. Reddy. The steel birdcage-type construction is typical of aircraft construction and the wheels were taken from aircraft landing gear, but the engine is an air-cooled Onan two-cylinder, which drives the front wheels only through a pair of three-speed motorcycle transmissions, possibly Harley-Davidson or Indian.
While it certainly looks similar to some of the flying car concepts that abounded at that time – particularly Molt Taylor’s Aerocar – it is definitely not an Aerocar, and we doubt that this was even designed as anything but a roadable car, given the lack of attachment points or bracing structures for wings. Rather, this appears to be a prototype or one-off design for an economical front-wheel-drive automobile.
However, none of the names of the men given have popped up in our research. Aside from aircraft, Grumman did indeed build vehicles meant for ground transportation – and still does today. They delved into bus manufacture in 1963 and today build the LLV postal vehicles you see delivering your mail. But so far, we haven’t seen anything that references Grumman building a front-wheel-drive automobile at that time.
Whatever the history behind this thing, we’re glad to see it’s still around.
UPDATE (8.February 2011): According to Randy M., Grumman has never had a facility in Wichita, so there goes that part of the story. He also noted that this birdcage style of aircraft construction wasn’t utilized by Grumman and that it quickly fell out of favor after World War II. Oh, and the wheels and tires were not taken from aircraft, rather from some sort of ground support vehicle. Thanks for the input, Randy!