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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Reviving the Atomic Era: Unveiling 4 Mind-Blowing Nuclear Concept Cars

Mind-Blowing - When the term "nuclear" is mentioned, it often conjures images of a deadly weapon, a perception grounded in the historical context of its devastating use in ending World War II by destroying Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
1958 Ford Nucleon looked a lot like the 1955 Mystere, a winged Ford concept car and it said would run on nuclear power, as opposed to gas. (Picture from: Hemmings)
However, beyond its ominous reputation, nuclear power has also been explored as a potential energy source for unconventional applications, such as propelling vehicles. In the 1950s to early 1960s, a phase known as the atomic era, several automotive manufacturers ventured into creating nuclear-powered concept cars that, while never reaching production, captivated the imaginations of automotive enthusiasts.

Presenting four nuclear-powered concept cars that had captivated automotive enthusiasts in the past, although they never made it into production:

1. Arbel Symetric
In the 1950s, the French car manufacturer Arbel, officially known as Compagnie Normande d'Etudes pour l'Application de Procédés Mécaniques, unveiled the Arbel Symetric. This concept car showcased a nuclear heat generator, the 40 kW (53 horsepower) genestatom, coupled with electric motors.
1954 Arbel Symetric. (Picture from: lAutomobileAncienne)
Although limited production began in 1951, the project faced regulatory challenges in France and eventually ceased. The 1958 Geneva Motor Show marked the pinnacle of attention for the latest model.

2. Ford Nucleon
Ford, the renowned American automotive giant, introduced the Ford Nucleon as a prominent nuclear concept car. Despite never progressing beyond a 3:8 scale model, the Nucleon gained fame. 
1958 Ford Nucleon said to have twin steam turbines and a nuclear reactor in the trunk. (Picture from: Gizmodo)
Nucleon is planned to have a reactor on the back of the car and work like a USS Nautilus nuclear submarine. In several their concept car presentations, Ford claims that the car can cover 8,000 kilometers with its nuclear power.
Designed to have a reactor resembling the USS Nautilus nuclear submarine, Ford claimed it could cover 8,000 kilometers with its nuclear power. (Picture from: FreeThink)
Unlike the Arbel Symetric, the Nucleon didn't require refueling; instead, it involved replacing the old reactor with a new one. 
1958 Ford Nucleon model at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. (Picture from: Hemmings)
While never produced, a miniature version can be viewed at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

3. Simca Fulgur
France demonstrated a particular interest in nuclear-powered vehicles, exemplified by Simca Fulgur, unveiled around the same time as Symetric and Nucleon at the 1958 Geneva Auto Show to show how the vehicles worked in the 2000s.
1958 Simca Fulgur concept. (Picture from: CarStyling.ru)
Simca, a company founded by Fiat, showcased Fulgur as a glimpse into the future, emphasizing autonomous capabilities. Unfortunately, detailed specifications are scarce, but it was confirmed that the Fulgur's engine operated on nuclear power.

4. Studebaker-Packard Astral
Among the array of nuclear car concepts, the Studebaker-Packard Astral stands out as one of the most unconventional. Presented at the South Bend Art Center in 1958, it was described by its creator as an "iconic machine."
1958 Studebaker-Packard Astral concept while sat on display at the Studebaker National Museum. (Picture from: CurbSideClassic)
Notably, the Astral was described as being able to 'float' in the air and being able to be driven on water. To shield passengers from potential radiation, the vehicle featured a specially designed cover made from advanced materials.
The 1958 Studebaker-Packard Astral, a nuclear-powered concept car from the late 1950s, boasts the ability to 'levitate' and navigate on water. (Picture from: OtoBlitz)
That's such a 'spectacular' idea that year, even though until now we have never seen a 'flying car' like Charles Taylor's dream with his Studebaker Astral. Currently, the Astral is on a leisurely break, extending an invitation for exploration at the Studebaker National Museum.
Showcasing futuristic designs akin to jet planes, these nuclear-powered concept cars exude an eccentricity by contemporary standards. Reflecting an era of optimism when nuclear risks were less understood.

Despite safety concerns impeding progress, their ambitious legacy lives on in automotive innovation. The lingering question: does nuclear power still play a role in modern car propulsion? Let's time will reveal the answers for us... *** [EKA [19122018] | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | FREETHINK | LAUTOMOBILEANCIENNE | GIZMODO | CARSTYLING | HEMMINGS | CURBSIDE CLASSIC]
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