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Propeller-Powered Antique Car
Flip the calendar back to 1932 and picture yourself driving through the French countryside in a roadster powered by an airplane propeller. The name of the quirky inventor who built the vehicle has been lost over time, but the vehicle itself hasnít. The propeller-driven Helicron, along with many other quirky and rare European automobiles, are housed at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tenn.
††††The Helicron sat unnoticed in a French barn until 2000. It was rebuilt using many of the original mehanical components, including the frame, wire wheels, dashboard, steering gear, brake pedal, light switch and headlights. The wood frame, covered in dust and dirt, was sandblasted and treated. The vehicle steers with its spring-mounted rear wheels. The front wheels have no springs.
†††† After restoration, the Helicron was certified for driving in France. It was purchased by the Lane Museum in 2004. At the front of the torpedo-shaped body is a 4-cyl. air-cooled Citroen GS engine with a 3-ft. dia. double shaft propeller coupled directly to its crankshaft. Archivists say the original engine was probably a horizontally opposed 2 cylinder 4 stroke known as an ABC Scorpion.
††††Even with such an unusual design, the Helicron was not the first, nor the only, propeller-driven car ever built. Frenchman Marcel Leyat was probably the largest proponent of such designs and built about 30 of them from 1913 to 1926. Two are known to exist almost a century later. Another vehicle was the 1929 Wind Wagon.
††††Jeff Lane, who owns the museum, says the vehicle is noisy and not very good at climbing hills. It is, however, fun to drive, although a bit quirky. Even though it has a cruising speed of 30 to 40 mph, and traction isnít an issue because itís powered by air, stopping on a hill creates a problem.††††
††††Lane says the unknown builder turned the chassis front to back so the rear wheels steered. It has 4-wheel mechanical brakes that stop it adequately. Donít plan on backing up as it doesnít have reverse.††††
††††The Helicron is among 30 French vehicles on display at the Lane Museum through early April, 2016.
†††† Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Lane Motor Museum, 702 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, Tenn. 37210 (ph 615 742-7445; www.lanemotormuseum.org).

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2016 - Volume #40, Issue #1