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The Original Big Wheel: AutoCult’s Goodyear AirWheel

In 1929, Goodyear developed a new low-pressure tire called the AirWheel. That might seem like an odd name for a tire that uses less air, but it was designed primarily for large airplanes, so it tracks. Apparently, this was such big news that the company decided to parade it around the United States to show it off.

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When we say “parade,” it’s pretty on the nose. A 12-foot tall version of the wheel was constructed, not unlike a Macy’s balloon, but more like a float, except it didn’t float, it rolled. The vehicle in question was a Buick Sedan whose chassis had been lengthened and modified with bus-like coachwork added by Flxible. If that strangely spelled name rings a bell, Flxible is famous for its city buses, and for converting cars to ambulance, hearse, and airport limo designs. Of course, the Buick-based bus wasn’t the weird part of this vehicle, it was the giant trailing wheel. Also, it had humongous loudspeaker horns because.

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AutoCult is no stranger to weird models. They have created miniature versions of one-off vehicles and concept cars that might otherwise be forgotten relics. So of course they make a model of this contraption in 1/43 scale. it looks positively ridiculous, like a toy that’s not even close to being based on reality.

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It’s a bit reminiscent of the Michelin Mille Pattes, or “Centipede” built decades later. This vehicle was an extended and heavily modified Citroen DS that had room for a truck tire in the middle. Unilke the Goodyear model, the Centipede was used for testing, although after it was retired, it served as a promotional vehicle. Autocult doesnt make one, but CMR and other companies have.

CMR michelin citroen centipede

Some collectors have been waiting their entire lives for this model to exist. Many more have never heard of it until now and suddenly want one. We have to thank AutoCult for their dedication to the oddball corners of the vehicle world.

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