Ford’s Gyron balanced on two wheels

309

In the 1950s and early 1960s General Motors, Chrysler and Ford raced each other to develop increasingly outlandish dream cars which they claimed we would drive in the future.

Ford’s most wacky car was the 1961 Gyron.

It was developed to counteract the enormous amount of publicity General Motors had gained for its winged, finned and jet-engined Firebird III.

Not content with four wheels, Ford designer and the Gyron’s passionate champion, Alex Tremulis, insisted it have only two of the round objects; one at the front and one at the back.

Balance was achieved by gyroscopes, or so Ford’s PR department said.

Trouble was, keen eyed observers noticed two small wheels dropped from the sides to support it.

“Only used when parking,” was the PR reply.

The Gyron was big, at 5.3 metres in length, but it held just two occupants.

They sat side by side in moulded plastic chairs that look like those stackable things you sit on in the beer garden at your local pub.

Entry and exit was via a clear plastic canopy roof that was raised and lowered electrically.

All the usual space age gadgets were said to be onboard.

Steering was via a small console-mounted dial.

No one really took it seriously.

Those who saw the car knew that it was never destined to sit along a Falcon in a dealership showroom.

Alex Termulis started his career as a designer at Auburn/Cord/Duesenberg.

Then he styled the 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt dream car.

In the late 1940s he helped the US military envision what flying saucers and space craft would look like.

Termulis then became chief designer for the ill-fated Tucker automobile.

He joined Ford and worked in the advance styling studio.

In 1963 he set up a design consultancy in California where his last work was the Subaru Brat.

The original Gyron, which was red, was destroyed in 1962 in a fire.

Only a small, white model remains.

It was sold at an auction in 2012 for $US40,000.

David Burrell is the editor of retroautos.com.au



David Burrell is the founder and editor of Retroautos.com.au, a free online classic cars magazine. David has a passion for cars and car design. He's also into speedway, which he's been writing about since 1981. His first car was a rusted-out 1961 Vauxhall Velox. Prior to starting the magazine, David worked as an international executive in a Fortune 500 company, in Australia, NZ, Asia, Latin America and the UK.