Fascination Concept Car
Fascination was created by Paul M. Lewis. His first attempt at building an automobile was a 1937 Airomobile Experimental Sedan, owned by the Harrah’s Museum. While the design was a technical success, financial backing was not forthcoming and the project ended with the one car. Lewis didn’t attempt to build another car until the 1960’s.
Fascination was Lewis’ second attempt. In 1962 he formed a company in Lakewood, Colorado, called the Highway Aircraft Corporation and began designing a futuristic 130 mile-per-hour automobile called Fascination. Steering is of the recirculating ball type, and because of the 180-degree turning capability, it’s possible to turn the 17-foot long car around in its own length.
Lewis built the prototype that was propeller-driven and had one wheel in front. During a demonstration at Bandimere Speedway, a prop failed, resulting in lawsuits. The prototype was redesigned eliminating the propeller and installing a pancake-type Volkswagen power plant. Another improvement was the addition of a second small wheel in the front to give the automobile more stability. The prototype was put into storage, only to be discovered many years later.
The Highway Aircraft Corporation had an agreement with the Egging Manufacturing Company of Gurley, Nebraska, a tractor cab manufacturer, to build the bodies of the Fascinations. A disagreement between Egging and Lewis ended that contract and the Highway Aircraft Corporation moved into an old Army Depot near Sidney, Nebraska. There, a new body was designed and three Fascinations were built. A fiberglass company in Lincoln, Nebraska, began creating the bodies for the new cars.
For the first three production cars, Lewis used four-cylinder Renault power plants imported from France. The first of these cars, a red one, was widely displayed in the Denver area, including at Stapleton Airport, in an attempt to sell dealerships and stock in the company. A Denver TV station ran a story about the automobile. Plus, an advertisement was produced to solicit dealers. Wordy advertisements described the car as “the lowest, economical, safe, smog-free, modernistic, quiet, easy-to-handle, easy-to-park, millions of car buyers want.”
Car number two, a red and white model, was very similar to car number one Car number three was nearly complete when the stockholders voted Lewis out of the company and at that point, production ceased. Car number three was completed in Lincoln and was displayed at the Los Angeles New Car Show in an attempt to get orders.
The man who manufactured the fiberglass bodies ended up with the incomplete car number four. He installed a 1963 Corvette windshield upside down to meet federal safety regulations. The man who completed car number three in Lincoln built another car, number five, using an Oldsmobile Toronado transmission, a Chevrolet V-6 engine and incorporated Gullwing doors; however the car was never completed.
The Carpenters own three of these unusual cars and it is car number two, the snappy red and white model, they have displayed here today. It was purchased by the Carpenters at an estate auction of a good friend, who acquired the car nearly 30 years ago and kept it in storage.
This car has been shown nationwide at many concours and car shows, including the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida, Keels & Wheel Concours d’Elegance in Houston, Texas, Father’s Day Car Classic in Los Angeles, AACA Western National, Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance in Michigan and Keeneland Concours ‘Elegance in Lexington, Kentucky, Louisville, Kentucky Concours d’Elegance and The Lake Mirror Classic in Lakeland, Florida. It was also displayed for a year and a half at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles, California and the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada. It has also been featured in many automotive publications such as Hemmings Motor News, Car & Driver, Motor Trend and Special Interest Autos.
Source: Sloan Museum