Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 12:15:35 -0600
Subject: (Fwd) RE: Buckminster Fullers - DYMAXION CAR

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From: "Willmott Andersson, Ann" <>
To: "''" <>
Subject: RE: Buckminster Fullers - DYMAXION CAR
Date sent: Mon, 8 Mar 1999 20:03:04 -0500

Hi Wallace--

You wrote to WNET about a month ago asking for info about the Dymaxion Car. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, but it took me awhile to track down the right info. However, the wait is hopefully worth it. I spoke to J. Baldwin, who wrote the book Buckyworks: Buckminster Fuller's Ideas for Today. Excellent book--I highly recommend it if you don't already have it, and it has some unique info about the car.

J. worked with Bucky and knows more about the car than probably anyone else. Here's what he told me:

The car at the National Auto Museum in Reno (no longer called the Harrah Museum) is the SECOND car. It was labelled for a time as the third car, but this was proven to be untrue by Baldwin and the museum changed it.

The way the cars were counted by Fuller is as follows:

First, a car with just the chassis but no body was made as a prototype. This is not numbered.

Then, the first real car, #1. This car was bought by Gulf Oil and was eventually destroyed by fire while parked in a garage. It was light, weighing about as much as a VW beetle, and it had only one headlight. This is the car that crashed at the World's Fair.

#2 - the second car. This one was to be sold to the investor from the World's Fair, but after the accident, he didn't want it. Fuller gave the car to the workers who built it because he couldn't pay them. Some time later, it ended up USED AS A CHICKEN COOP somewhere in the Midwest. This completely rotten the wood, vinyl, and formica interior. This, as you may have guessed, explains why the interior of the car is not viewable at the museum! No pictures were ever found showing the interior of the car, so the museum had no guide by which to reconstruct it. (Baldwin says he looked through thousands of pictures in Fuller's archive looking for a shot of the interior, but couldn't find one.) Eventually it was found and sold to Harrah's for $90,000. This car was also fairly light, but a little heavier than the first one.

#3 - the third car was bought by Leopold Stokowski for his wife. It was emerald green with a blue formica interior. (Formica was a new material at the time.) According to Baldwin, it was really heavy, "built like a tank". This car logged at least 300,000 miles before it disappeared. J. Baldwin says he finally tracked down a junkyard owner in Wichita who says he cut it up for scrap during the Korean war.

The second and third cars both had two headlights.

I think the 4th and 5th designs were for smaller versions of the car, and these were never built.

As for the patent drawings, there are several drawings, but none of them reflect the car as built. Baldwin says the same is true of the Dymaxion house (which he took apart to have it moved to a museum in Michigan) -- the patent drawings differed from the blueprints, and both of these differed from the actual construction.

I'm not sure which kind of steering post the second car had, because Fuller tested 22 different kinds of posts according to J. The car always had a problem with shuddering from side to side, especially in wind, and he had been working on different ways to fix the problem. Supposedly, he always intended to make the cars front wheel drive, but appropriate parts had not yet been made.

A side note on the 2nd car: According to J., when Fuller had the car, he rolled it with his family in it. They were injured but recovered--the car had seatbelts. Because of this accident, it was modified, and there are pictures of it with different detailing. These are sometimes mistaken for pictures of different cars.

J. Baldwin wrote an article about the Dymaxion car in Automobile Magazine in 1989, which you might want to look up.

I hope this helps. You're welcome to use this info on your web site, but please understand that I have not substantiated or fact-checked any of it! I can't vouch for the accuracy of these anecdotes. Good luck! --Ann Willmott Andersson

> ----------
> Reply To:
> Sent: Wednesday, January 27, 1999 7:32 PM
> To:
> Subject: Buckminster Fullers - DYMAXION CAR
> << File: Card for WALLACE L. JOHNSTON >>
> Help. I am looking for some information on the "Last Surviving Dymaxion Car", reportedly in a William F. Harrah Museum in Nevada(?)
> I have done extensive research in the printed materials available and some of my writing/analysis is at
> I am interested in knowing WHICH of the Five (5) Fuller designs was actually the survivor proported to be in the Museum?
> Is it the Pattent Drawing Version, The One with the "Canted, Steering Post, the one with four doors, the one with only one headlight (or the one with two headlights..??? Which One???
> Wallace L. Johnston.