Now that I've finished spending a day in mourning over an early Wichita St. exit from the big dance here is a car that came from this magnificent city: the Beechcraft Plainsman. It is from 1946, an era of which I know next to nothing about when it comes to automobiles. What I do know is that Walter & Olive Ann Beech did not take today's approach when the going in the aviation industry got rough; throughout its history Beechcraft has made everything from farm equipment to pie pans.
The overall styling definitely resembles other vehicles from the 40's & 50's, however, its rear looks rather ugly even though it was designed with aerodynamic efficiency in mind. The Plainman's powerplant was an air-cooled four pot which powered an electric motor that moved all four wheels. The electric AWD system was designed to send power to the wheels with grip in slick conditions; not unlike some modern vehicles. Another modern feature was a variable air suspension which could alternate the firmness of the ride.
The car allegedly returned 30 mpg city with a top speed of 160 mph though other performance figures are unavailable as only two prototypes were made before the aircraft industry picked up in the late 40's and Beechcraft continued doing what it does best, making aircraft.While it might not have been the first of its kind, it certainly was a brave and innovative design.