The “Deadlies”: Atomic Automobile

By | November 30, 2006

The Deadlies Atomic Automobile

In our competition to find “Deadlies” — technology which may be feasible but still looks like a really bad idea — there have been plenty of atomic nominations. In the 50’s and 60’s there were plans for nuclear powered ships, trains, aircraft, missiles and spaceships which have attracted nominations for the “Deadlies.” But nobody has mentioned the Atomic Automobile yet.

These days we’re a bit wary about nuclear power, but back in it’s heyday it was selling like (radioactive) hot cakes. Nuclear power was the future, it was cleaner than fossil fuels, endlessly abundant and so inexpensive that Lewis Strauss, Chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, forecast that: “It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter.”

… So when the Atomic Age really got under way in 1958 it was no surprise when the Ford Nucleon concept car was rolled out. This had the pasenger compartment placed well forward to keep away from the nuclear plant at the back. The company suggested that the Nucleon would travel 5,000 miles before needing to have the atomic core replaced at a charging station, the future equivalent of a gas station. Unsurprisingly enough, the car never went beyond concept stage. – deftech

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