O'Rourke Coachtrimmers & Supplies

Dymaxion

Interior RestorationsAlexander Pink

Recreating History.

One of most challenging, but rewarding commissions we have been responsible for carrying out was to recreate the complete interior of one of the most fascinating vehicles the world has seen. The car is question is the sole surviving Dymaxion Car. The car was the brainchild of famed American architect and engineer, Richard Buckminster Fuller (aka Bucky) inventor of the geodesic dome. Bucky worked with an expert in aero and nautical designer and engineer, Starling Burgess on the project. Built in 1933 at the 4D Dymaxion Car factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Dynamic Maximum Tension car was a three-wheeled aerodynamically bodied vehicle which incorporated contemporary Ford mechanical elements such as the Model B V8 power plant. This was one of just three examples to be produced.

We became involved in the project via the world-renowned restoration company, Crosthwaite and Gardiner who in turn had been charged with producing detail perfect facsimile Dymaxion Car for British architect, Sir Norman Foster – previously a student of Bucky. The company was loaned the surviving Dymaxion Car, the second prototype, to refer to as a datum during the project, by the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada USA. While away from the museum this was the perfect opportunity to restore the car to its former glory.

The 20 foot-long car had fallen off the radar for close to three decades, and its fate was considered to have followed the two sister cars which no longer exist. Since being relocated, the car had been displayed with the windows painted over as what remained of the interior was in such poor condition. 

 

Dymaxion Car 2 pre restoration.

Dymaxion Car 2 pre restoration.

O’Rourke Recreation

We embraced the assignment we were briefed to undertake - the full sympathetic recreation of the original interior upholstery and paneling of the sole surviving original Dymaxion Car. This required significant research, working from what photographs, most of which were of poor quality, and any textile scraps we could locate remaining inside the vehicle after seven decades. Working from a tattered fragment of cloth we were able to ascertain the weave and colour of the material used. With this essential evidence in hand, our next step was to successfully locate a company able to weave new material accurately paralleling the original cloth. Obviously, with such a historically important vehicle, a true museum piece, a close match would never be close enough for us to put our name to! 

Our part in the restoration of the original Dymaxion Car is something we are very proud of indeed. This aided us in our next task… the creation of a complete interior for the recreation Sir Norman Foster was having produced. To have been responsible for the complete coach trimming on both of these enthrallingly radical vehicles is far more important to us than being representative of our abilities, as it highlights the fact we welcome a challenging assignment and having done so, feel duty-bound to deliver without compromise.

Keep your eyes peeled for a future piece on how we went about Car 3's interior creation.