For the last part of this series, I want to examine a car that didn't just break the styling mold, it shattered the very concept of an automobile. The 1935 Stout Scarab was the brainchild of William B. Stout, an aircraft and automobile engineer and writer. Stout, who had risen to fame as the chief engineer and designer of the Ford Tri Motor airplane, decided to go into the automobile business after a tiff with Ford's aviation department in 1932. His company, Stout Engineering Laboratories of Detroit, MI, was charged with the task of designing a building a van-like vehicle very much like the three-wheeled Dymaxion car created by noted inventor Buckminster Fuller.
The first prototype was completed in 1932, featuring a body styled by John Tjaarda (who you might remember from the Lincoln Continental), a rear mounted Ford V8, four-wheels (unlike the Dymaxion), and a steel space frame wrapped with an aluminum body, similar to how aircraft were (and still are) designed. Later models were wrapped in steel body work. The rear mounted engine afforded the vehicle a completely flat floor and made for a very roomy interior. Clothed in leather, chrome, painted steel, and wicker, the spacious interior could seat 6-8 people, depending on the configuration and even had room for a card table.
Fancy engineering features also included independent suspension at all four corners and springs wrapped around gas filled struts similar to the struts that would later be proliferated by Earle MacPherson.
All this fancy technology came at a cost, however. The Stout Scarab retailed for $5000, a princely sum in 1935, and subsequently only 9 were built. Each one was slightly different. Today, about 5 survive.
The Stout's history is certainly fascinating, as is William Stout's own history. Despite the failure of his Scarab, Stout tried his hand at a few other futuristic inventions, but few seemed to get very far off the ground. Stout died in 1956.