If you’ve ever wanted a roadable aircraft, aka a flying car, and happen to have $1.25 million lying around, we’ve got some good news: a vintage one can be yours. Just don’t expect anybody to insure it … especially if you decide to start flying the thing.
To be fair, this is an extremely rare piece of automotive history: the Taylor Aerocar. Why the Aerocar failed tells us a lot about the history of getting around in America, and a lot about the dream of private flight ownership that many hobbyists are still chasing, most recently with the Terrafugia.
The history of the Taylor Aerocar dates back to 1946. Moulton Taylor was an aeronautics engineer who’d trained as a pilot, but wound up working on missile design during World War II. Taylor was fascinated by aircraft and flight and it was his lifelong dream to bring flying cars to everyday life.
And, believe it or not, he nearly pulled it off.
What got in his way wasn’t the engineering. Although flying cars had been in development by everybody from serious scientists to complete kooks, Taylor was the one who cracked some of the harder engineering problems to make the Aerocar possible.
Granted, it wasn’t a great car; it had a top speed of 60 miles an hour. And it wasn’t designed to get you around the world as an airplane: it was designed to be a solid, light aircraft, not a jet fighter. But that wasn’t the idea. The dream was to increase American mobility.
Ultimately what did the Taylor Aerocar in was lack of interest. Taylor had lined up a manufacturer and would be able to enter production if he could secure 500 orders. Unfortunately, that condition never came together and we were left with only six Aerocars, only one of which is still flying and all of which are in museums. Well, except for this one.
It belongs to Greg Herrick and yes, it still flies. It’s been on the market since December, but just like back in the 1950s, buyers for a flying car are few and far between, even for a rare piece of history like this one. No telling how much auto insurance would cost for this baby, either.
So what happened to Taylor? He kept pioneering light aircraft. He invented the Taylor Coot, a new kind of amphibious airplane designed to be home-built: over 70 Taylor Coots have been assembled by aeronautics hobbyist since the 1960s. He also created another homebuilt airplane built around his Aerocar designs.
Meanwhile, hobbyists and companies are keeping the dream alive. It’s been modified slightly: the idea behind roadable aircraft has shifted from turning every car driver into a pilot to reducing the maintenance costs of owning a light sport airplane by not having to rent a hangar. It’s also being designed to help emergency personnel, such as rural ambulances, get patients who need help to hospitals and other locations faster.
Nonetheless, the dream of owning your own airplane being the province of everyone, not just the wealthy, lives on. And, somewhere, Moulton Taylor is smiling.