There are many reasons this contraption remained a one-off.
Automotive history is littered with bad ideas that would-be automakers poured their heart, soul, and life savings into.
One such bad idea is the propeller-powered Helicron. There is a certain logic to it. After all, propellers are a highly effective means of moving a plane through the air, so why shouldn’t it work on the ground?
It was built in 1932 in France and based on a Rosengart chassis, complete with suspension, brakes, and steering. A small aero engine and propeller were mounted up front, which meant there wasn’t enough room for the front wheels to turn. So the builder simply turned the chassis around 180 degrees, so the steering was now at the back.
As a result, the handling was terrifying. And the propeller didn't actually do much, err, propelling, despite the claimed top speed of 75 miles per hour (120 kilometers per hour).
More to the point, though, it had a giant, unshielded blender on the front. That is designed to suck in whatever is in front of it, be it an insect, bird, dog, or person. There’s no shielding on the rear edge of the propeller, either, so the driver would get showered in anything that was unfortunate enough to cross the Helicron’s path.
Unbelievably, the Helicron was by no means the only propeller-powered car. Almost as soon as the Wright Brothers landed after their first flight, inventors, entrepreneurs, and chancers - most of them French, for some reason - started experimenting with them. Some were used were to set speed records, some were meant to be the next great people’s car, but none got much further than the prototype stage. Only in the 1960s did the idea really die out.
The Helicron was abandoned in the late 1930s and not rediscovered until 2000. It was fully restored, retaining the vast majority of the original components, even the wooden bodywork. But the engine was long gone, so a four-cylinder, air-cooled motor from a Citroen GS was put in its place.
It is now owned by the Lane Motor Museum, where Jaopnik writer Jason Torchinsky was able to get behind the wheel to find out if it really is as terrifying - and useless - as it looks.