The Spirit of Tomorrow
Looks a bit like a Volkswagen Van, but it isn't. Seen from the side this car is a teardrop shape, and very long. I could not get a good side-long shot. Here's the low-down on the car, which was built mid 20th century in my home town of Victoria, BC. 5x HDRi
Museum displays home-grown car
Friday, September 19, 2008
A piece of British Columbia history rolled into the lobby of the Royal British Columbia Museum last week. The Spirit of Tomorrow is a one-of-a-kind car designed in B.C by Victoria resident H.B "Barney" Oldfield and assembled with the help of J.H. Norton between 1938 and 1942.
The car is on loan to the museum as part of its Free Spirit: Stories of You, Me and B.C. project that celebrates the 150th anniversary of British Columbia. Some people might remember the car when it was last displayed at Expo 86.
"There are few cars actually built in B.C.," says Lorne Hammond, curator of History at the museum. "This car is noteworthy because of the aerodynamic, mid-engined design inspired by Oldfield's aviation background."
The car consists of an aluminum skin stretched over a wood body built on a 1939 Dodge car frame. As there were no wind tunnels to test the aerodynamic shape, Oldfield repeatedly dipped a scale model of the vehicle in a nearby creek. He streamlined the design by studying the water ripples the model caused in the current.
The engine is placed just in front of the rear wheels for better handling. It originally had a flat-head V-8 Ford engine but that was replaced by a modern 289 Ford V-8 when Oldfield restored the vehicle in 1967. Although the car weighs 1,400 kg it can attain a top speed of 180 km/h. At one time the rear of the car sported a fin for stability.
The design of the teardrop-shaped car is similar to the well-known Buckminster Fuller Dymaxion car of the same era. The main difference was the Dymaxion only had one wheel in the rear, which also steered the car.
Unlike many prototypes, Oldfield's car has been road-licensed for the last 60 years and has transported the family on many road trips. It seats five.
The Spirit of Tomorrow will be on display at the RBCM until January 11, 2009.
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008