Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Lord K's Garage #186: The Airomobile

In 1937, the Airomobile was a one-of-a-kind experimental model built by engineers from Franklin Auto and Lewis American Airways.*

1937 Airmobile Experimental - Dolphin Tail view

It was intended to be a low-priced, mass produced car. The design was the result of Paul M. Lewis, who wanted a simple inexpensive ( target price of $300) and safe automobile in 1934. The three-wheel design met his needs for streamlining, and was also quite stable.


Via Avi_Abrams, on Flickr

1937 Airomobile

Via aldenjewell, on Flickr

A year after developing the basic design, Lewis incorporated as Lewis-American Airways and offered stock in the company. He then selected Carl Doman and Ed Marks, former engineers with the Franklin Automobile company, who had formed the Doman-Marks Engine Company, to design and build the car.

1937 Airmobile Experimental Dash

Photo by wcraig, on Flickr

The Airomobile stimulated great interest but never made it into production. After many technical problems were sorted out with the the vehicle a prototype was eventually built in 1937.

The vehicle was powered by a horizontally opposed, 129-cu.in overhead valve, air cooled four cylinder unit (57hp) created by the Dorman Marks Engine Company . This unit was later to find great success in light aeroplanes.

1937 Airmobile ExperimentalPhoto by wcraig, on Flickr

The body was created from steel and was very aerodynamic with it trailing to the rear and having two large fish like fins. The Airomobile did have a very low centre of gravity and was said to take corners faster than any 4-wheeler at the time.

1937 Airomobile

Photo by brewbooks, on Flickr

Lewis set off on a cross-country promotional tour with the Airomobile, logging some 45,000 miles in only a few short months. Along the way, he managed to convince numerous interested parties in his vision of an affordable, safe automobile for all Americans. In the Jan./Feb. 1971 issue of Special Interest Automobiles magazine, Lewis is quoted as stating that "the Airomobile was carefully engineered to turn corners very fast. Even faster than possible with a 4-wheel car, rear-wheel driven. To accomplish this, we needed to build the Airomobile with a very low center of gravity. The engine was mounted forward of the front wheels and the passengers rode, therefore, on the long end of the teeter-totter. This made for a very easy ride."

1937 Airmobile Exerimental Front EndPhoto by wcraig, on Flickr

In 1938 the Airomobile was slightly redesigned with a new front section that included the lights being moved from the top of the wings and built into them. Lewis again toured the USA but interest in the vehicle had diminished and plans to put the vehicle into full production were squashed with the onset of the second World War and so the vehicle never became anything more than a prototype.

vwVia Avi_Abrams, on Flickr


* Text: Coachbuilt.com

Headline image by wcraig, on Flickr

A SIA article published on the Web by Hemmings blog

Views: 2629


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Comment by Evandro Ribeiro on June 11, 2013 at 7:55pm

A lobster car !!!

Comment by Docneg on June 4, 2013 at 4:07pm

Thank you so much for posting this.  I researched Lewis years ago and this is another of the despicable examples of the guy with the better idea being squashed by the big bullies of business.  How about his "fascination" car?  Any pics of that one?

Comment by Deven Science on June 2, 2013 at 9:01pm

Weird, and awesome.

Comment by pkerot on June 1, 2013 at 7:43pm


Comment by Cap'n Tony on May 31, 2013 at 10:21am


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