Shortly after production began, however, design flaws became apparent. Although the car was big and heavy, it used a relatively small Austin A55 1.5 litre engine, which limited performance. The A55 also provided the transmission and suspension. Another problem was that the rear wheels were shrouded by body panels and a rear wheel could not be removed (for puncture repair for example) without dropping its axle..... Production of up to 10,000 cars a year was talked about but as few as ten complete cars were produced during the six months before production ceased. After the factory closed, the unused parts were dumped into the local lake, Lough Muckno.
Fritz von Opel was one of those early-20th-century rocket-besotted guys who pioneered this exotic means of propulsion. Just look at his rocket car go in the film clip above! (Narration in German, but not necessary to comprehension.)
But von Opel's innocent excitement had its darker side. I give you the 1929 newspaper article below. Specifically, the enlarged sentence.
A 1912 Baker Electric car that was retrofitted with a solar panel by Charles Escoffery for the International Rectifier Corp. back in 1960. The panel cost $20,000. (I don't know what that would be in present-day money, but it wouldn't be cheap.) With the panel, the Baker could run at 20 mph for three hours. International Rectifier hoped to soon be churning out "noiseless, smogless" solar cars for $5000 each. It's 53 years later now, and we're still waiting. Source: Newsweek (Mar 7, 1960) & M3GA.
As I pondered this ad, which ran in Time magazine (May 1983), I realized that here on WU we've slowly been accumulating evidence that a race of giants lives amongst us, whose existence is occasionally revealed to the world in advertisements. Consider, for the sake of comparison, these two other ads that Paul and I have previously posted:
Experts are predicting that within 15 to 20 years manual-transmission cars might be "virtually extinct." This has inspired Eddie Alterman of Car and Driver magazine to launch a 'Save the Manuals' campaign.
I drive a stick shift, but for one reason only — because it was the cheapest car on the lot (among the cars I was willing to consider). I concede there are occasional times when driving a stick shift is more fun than an automatic, but when I get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic jams, which happens frequently in the San Diego area, I hate having a stick shift. So when the time comes that I need to buy a new car, if an automatic is the cheapest option, I'm more than happy to say goodbye to manuals forever.