Diversions

Aerocar Goes Up for Auction

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Only five aerocars were ever produced. Of the three privately-owned Aerocars, one is now on sale. i

Only five Aerocars were ever produced. Of the three that are privately owned, one is now on sale. Courtesy Marilyn Felling hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy Marilyn Felling
Only five aerocars were ever produced. Of the three privately-owned Aerocars, one is now on sale.

Only five Aerocars were ever produced. Of the three that are privately owned, one is now on sale.

Courtesy Marilyn Felling

Designed nearly 60 years ago, the Aerocar can run like a normal car — and fly in the air. Only five of the machines, which were designed by a retired Navy pilot, were ever made. Now one is up for auction; it once had Raul Castro as a passenger. NPR's Scott Simon talks to seller Marilyn Felling.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Nearly 60 years ago an ex-Navy pilot had an idea: an automobile that could fly like a plane. Aerocars, as his design was called, did not exactly capture the market. Only five were ever made. Two were in museums, and of the three privately-owned aerocars, one is now on sale with an asking price of $3.5 million.

Marilyn Felling, the seller, joins us from her home in Grand Junction, Colorado. Ms. Felling, thanks very much for being with us.

Ms. MARILYN FELLING (Aerocar Owner): Well, thank you for asking me.

SIMON: Is this a car that flies or an airplane that drives?

Ms. FELLING: It's a little of neither and some of both.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: So now there are wings which detach, or attach, depending on what you use it for, right?

Ms. FELLING: Yes. Actually the wings are attached to the fuselage, which either turns around and prepares for it to fly or turn it the other way and you can tow it as a trailer.

SIMON: Have you ever flown it?

Ms. FELLING: No, I have not flown it, but I have driven it and dropped a lot of jaws as everybody saw me driving down the street, because it's got no regular car muffler system. It sounds like a dragster. And it doesn't drive very fast and it's real funny looking.

SIMON: Well, it sounds like it's worth every penny of 3.5 million.

Ms. FELLING: Absolutely it is.

SIMON: How fast can it go? Or can it not go fast?

Ms. FELLING: It can go 60 miles an hour.

SIMON: Oh. Well, I mean that's even above the speed limit.

Ms. FELLING: Yes, that's right. That's reasonable.

SIMON: You just couldn't pass anyone. Now, if it were to fly, how fast can it fly?

Ms. FELLING: About 110 miles and hour.

SIMON: Oh. Well, that's a little faster than a car, isn't it? Come to think of it.

Ms. FELLING: Yes, it is.

SIMON: Now, do you know the story that I have read that Raoul Castro, presently the interim leader of Cuba, once got a ride in one of these?

Ms. FELLING: It was my plane in particular, which makes it having one of the most colorful histories of all of the aerocars that were ever built. It was there for a Cuban National Automotive Exposition (unintelligible) with somebody else up there with him, and only problem was, on the way down they hit a horse on the runway.

SIMON: They hit a horse on the runway?

Ms. FELLING: Yes, they did, and they damaged the plane.

SIMON: Probably the horse too.

Ms. FELLING: I would imagine.

SIMON: Oh mercy. Has there been a lot of interest in this?

Ms. FELLING: I haven't had what I truly consider the interested person. It'll only take one and I would love more than anything for a museum to be able to get some grants in order to buy it and see it fully restored so that it could be shared with many people all over and not kept in a garage like we've had it since 1981.

SIMON: Ms. Felling, thanks so much. And good luck to you.

Ms. FELLING: Thank you so much. And how about this? I'll let you know if I sell it.

SIMON: Please, please. We'd love to hear that.

Ms. FELLING: Okay.

SIMON: Marilyn Felling in Grand Junction, Colorado. You're listening to NPR News.

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