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This superb scale model boasts front and rear lights, “turn” indicators, and electric drive.

By Paul Palanek

THE most revolutionary and advanced vehicle ever to be driven on public highways was given its world driving premier early this year. Benson Ford, vice-president of Ford, who drove the sleek low-slung twin Plexiglas dome Lincoln Futura for the first time on a public thoroughfare called it, “a $250,000 laboratory on wheels.”

Almost 19 ft. long, 7 ft. wide and only 53 in. high the Futura has a low silhouette and smooth flowing lines almost devoid of exterior ornamentation. Its all-steel body is a beautiful pearlescent, frost-blue white.

Our model to a one-inch scale reduces the 19 ft. Futura to a 19 in. model. This accurate scaling down was accomplished by using a factory drawing, received from Lincoln-Mercury. Not only have we attempted to capture the esthetic beauty of the Futura, we also made it a functional model, as it uses a tiny electric motor to make it actually run. It also boasts a set of head and tail lamps and “turn” indicators. In our opinion the Plexiglas canopy is the model’s finest feature.

The material selection for the body shell, is left to the whim of the modeler. The choice is either hardwood or medium grade balsa blocks. We decided to employ pattern makers’ pine. Shell halves are cemented using a good grade of cement, such as Weldwood glue. A C-clamp or two will hold the glued surfaces and avoid any possibility of shifting while drying. When dried, lay out the top and side views as indicated on the drawings and cut to shape. Let the saw cuts include the wheel cutouts. Sand the top deck flat in the general area of the canopy. Pencil-line all surfaces that blend with one another. An example of this is the raised trim bead that circles the lower half of the body, where the flat rear deck meets the inner sloping walls of the rear fins. Follow this simple procedure throughout the layout and carving stages. A wood rasp is a good tool to use if you are working with hardwood. Regardless of material a good set of carving and gouging tools are most important. A flat oil stone should be employed to hone the tools after short periods of carving.

The cockpit cavity is shaped as shown in the drawings and a 3/8 in. hole drilled to receive the steering gear. Spot drill a series of holes fore and aft, in the general area of the grill cavities. Finish this grill cavity with a slight radius on its edges.

Drill the holes for the lighting system. Bear in mind, the complete lighting hook-up is fastened to the inside of the body shell. Three hook-up wires lead from the shell to the proper chassis terminal posts. Check the wiring diagram.

Upon completion of the shell with all surfaces smoothed over, apply several coats of wood filler, about five should do the trick. Bear in mind the importance of filler, it is the foundation of a super finish.

Since few of us are fortunate in owning a paint spraying outfit, we chose the second best method to apply the finish, Krylon paint spray. The colors are Regal blue; aluminum for “chrome” and a white base. Spray the shell with several coats of white, allowing at least six hours between coats. Sand lightly, using fine sandpaper, wet with water. Other colors are sprayed on using tape to mask off the required areas.

The grill work is next in store, and is made from .020 in. celluloid, concaved, then cemented in place. This procedure applies to both front and rear grills. Space the grill rails, 1/16 in. apart. Along the lower inner surface of the body shell, secure four strips of 1/4 in. square hardwood to support the Plexiglas chassis.

Since the canopy is transparent, a steering wheel is needed. Using turned aluminum or wood, fashion the gear as indicated and mount in the hole on the dash. On the after deck of the shell mount the radio antenna. Here again, we use aluminum or turned wood. After installing the canopy, use silver masking tape to trim the canopy bubble and body surfaces. Complete the shell by adding the forward and rear light windows. Use red for the rear and frosted for the front. A coat of wax will preserve the finish and beauty of the car.

We used Plexiglas for the chassis for two reasons. It is easy to work with and it is an excellent non-conductor. The drawings show all details pertaining to layout and construction. The signaling light switch is wired to indicate left and right turns. To fasten the wheels, place a bit of solder at the end of each front axle after mounting the wheels. The rear wheels are bolted in place.

The entire electrical system, excluding the drive is a 24-volt hookup. It uses four No. 724 Eveready batteries wired in series. A Burgess battery powers the Imp six-volt motor. Mount the motor as shown. Shim to increase the friction between motor shaft and rear wheels.

Mounted in the center of the chassis is a pair of airplane type seats, fabricated from 1/2×3 in. sheet balsa. When completed, fasten in place using three No. 3 wood screws, 1/2 in. long. The seat assembly including chassis is sprayed a flat black. To complete the circuit between body and shell and chassis, fasten three No. 4×40 bolts and nuts as shown, to form posts to which the proper wire is fastened. Allow some slack on these wires. Once the chassis is complete and functioning properly, assemble, using No. 3 wood screws. Our Futura is now complete and ready for the road.

Forming The Canopy The crowning glory of the car is the bugeye canopy appearing on its prototype. With a little effort, care and patience, the reader will find it rather easy fashioning this Plexiglas enclosure.

We will employ the identical methods used in the aircraft industry, to make plane canopies. The materials required are wood, Masonite, some nuts and bolts and lastly the Plexiglas itself.

Proceed by shaping the male form of the canopy, that is the inner surface of the completed shape. Refer to the line drawings for shape and contour lines. Bear in mind that all surface and contour dimensions are kept 1/16 in. smaller to allow for the thickness of the plastic. The male form must be brought to a glass smooth surface, free of bumps or valleys lest they distort and mark the canopy. Apply several coats of hard shellac, allow sufficient time for drying before each coat. Use fine sandpaper and rub wet using water as the wetting agent.

The next item is the mask and stripper plates, both very important to proper drawing. The mask and stripper plates measure, 1/4x8x10 in. To hold the opening in the mask to a definite dimension, allow % in. clearance between the mask opening and the male form. The stripper must be fabricated with care and skill. Its opening is similar to the mask but is 1/16 in. larger than the male. This permits room for the form and Plexiglas to be drawn through. On the stripper, all sharp edges should be removed and a radius filed to permit the clastic to flow freely under pressure.

As will be noted, No. 10×32 screws se- cure the glass, between the mask and stripper. These have a two-fold purpose. They add rigidity to the mold and prevent the plastic from wrinkling when being drawn.

Complete the stripper by adding the hardwood restriction plate called the “bridge.” This will restrict the flow of Plexiglas and provide a definite line between both halves of the canopy. Bear in mind the in. clearance needed for plastic thickness. The three items, plastic, mask and stripper are drilled as shown, using 3/8 to 1/2 in. dia. holes. All are fastened with 10×32 bolts with washers under both head and nuts. The washers should be of sufficient diameter to cover the drilled holes.

To heat, we used a standard kitchen oven with thermostatic controls, keeping the heat in a 300° range. If little success is attained with the first pressing, try again.

  1. Mike says: June 27, 20117:27 am

    If any of you remember industrialist and philanthropist Bruce Wayne said he was going to build one of these, but I don’t know if he ever did. However about the same time Batman could be seen driving around the city fighting crime in one.

  2. Rick Auricchio says: June 27, 20119:15 am

    Fins! You can’t tell if the car is coming or going!

  3. Toronto says: June 27, 201110:53 am

    I just have to look at that thing to get the Batman TV show theme stuck in my head.

    (Oooly oooly oooly oooly oooly oooly oooly oooly Batman!)

  4. John Savard says: June 27, 20114:12 pm

    Indeed, it was a Lincoln Futura that was used for the Batmobile in the Batman TV series with Adam West. It’s nice to see that this car received some attention before it became the Batmobile.

  5. Jari says: June 27, 20114:16 pm

    This calls for….Batusi!…

  6. John says: June 27, 20114:18 pm

    John Savard » As addressed by JMyint when he posted this link http://www.1966batmobil… here http://blog.modernmecha…

  7. Scott B. says: June 28, 201110:08 am

    This car was featured quite prominently in the 1959 rom-com “It Started with a Kiss” starring Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds. They tool around Spain (Italy?) in it. The movie is shown on Turner Classic Movies occasionally.


  8. John says: June 28, 201110:41 am

    Scott B. » Or parts of it here

  9. Stephen says: June 29, 20114:25 am

    As a car, it must have been hugely impractical, with that enormous width and wheelbase for only two passengers – who couldn’t even have a proper conversation. Batman and Robin never closed the bubbles that would have cut them off, and besides, most of their conversations while driving took place in front of a back-projection screen :o)

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