In the late 1950s, a military program in Dugway Proving Ground in the desert southwest of Salt Lake City was underway to develop a wheel-less vehicle that could travel on any terrain and skim across water. More importantly, the vehicle could theoretically skirt over landmines without problems. It was a simple concept, relying on counterspherical gravitational force (CGF) rather than the more complicated magnetic levitation method.
By the early 1960s, the technology had leaked through a government contractor and a private program was already underway to develop a levitating vehicle (LV) for the everyday driver. Without the friction of wheels, an LV could skim along roads while economically sipping much less fuel than the typical gas hog cars of the time. By the time the oil industry caught wind of the development, the LV disappeared into oblivion thanks to a joint conspiracy by the oil and tire industries who saw them as a threat to their bottom lines. The big automakers quietly shut down their levitation R&D divisions.
Today there are only a few remaining levitators left in the world, some meticulously cared for while others sadly rust away. They are technically not street-legal due to horrendously poor braking distances, but police officers tend to turn a blind eye to the beautiful streamlined classic floaters. But most people probably never even notice them.
Inspired by a levitating car he had remembered seeing as a kid, moviemaker George Lucas featured the Landspeeder in his 1977 blockbuster Star Wars. The film brought about a brief resurgence of interest in vehicle levitation, but the whole concept again faded quickly back into obscurity.
I met with Miles Weston, president of the North American Chapter of the Levitating Vehicle Owners Society (NACLVOS), and he pointed out where I could find a few LVs in the area. Here are a few shots of these beauties:
If you’ve spotted any floaters in your town, I’d love to hear about it.
EDIT: I’ve received a surprising number of emails about this post from people wanting to know more about these cars. I’m sorry to disappoint, but this was an April Fool’s joke. These cars are not real. There, I said it.