I’m a sucker for prototype and one-of-a-kind cars, and this 1928 Martin Aerodynamic, recently on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum, made my heart all aflutter.  For 1928, this must have been an unusual car, and I was eager to learn its story.  Thankfully, the Petersen and the Lane Motor Museum, who owns the vehicle, provide more detail about this aerodynamically minded auto…

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“Built by Martin Aircraft Company of Garden City, New York, this advanced car was designed according to principles developed by pioneering European aerodynamicist Paul Jaray.  Its pontoon-shaped underbody, fully covered rear wheels, gently sloping nose, and tapering rear body were unusually efficient for the day and enabled the car to reach a high 107 miles per hour in testing.

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The one-of-a-kind car cost a staggering $17,000 to build and is powered by a four-cylinder, water-cooled rear-mounted engine.  Its airplane-type suspension does not make use of conventional springs.

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The aluminum body has one door that opens into the back seat.  This Martin was built for Air Force General William “Billy” Mitchell of World War I fame.

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The Martin was presented at the 1932 National Automobile Show in New York, but weak public acceptance coupled with the worsening of the Great Depression doomed the effort.”

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A little research on the Martin led me to this quirky beauty, the 1950 Martin Stationette, which I hope to be able to see in person someday!  Be sure to check out  Lane Motor Museum’s website, which features an extensive collection and specializes in one-of-a-kind vintage autos.

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