August 29, 2009

FOUND: The Ford Buckminster Fullerwagon

1953 Ford Ranch Wagon Camper by Buckminster Fuller & MIT

There we go, that's better. Behold, Internet, the full glory that is/was the Ford Buckminster Fullerwagon.

If you'll recall, a 1952 dinner discussion of the awesomeness of station wagons between Fuller and the editors of Ford's showroom magazine, Ford Times, led to both the publication of the Ford Treasury of Station Wagon Living and a design project: Fuller and his students at MIT would come up with camping equipment for the Ford Ranch Wagon, the 2-door version of Ford's new, all-steel, non-woodie station wagon.

The results of the six-week exercise were published, it turns out, in the July 1953 edition of Ford Times. Which I tracked down and scanned and uploaded here, so that Edward N. Smith's photos of Fuller et al's work would not be lost to the ages.

Fuller's original idea was to invent a new kind of tent that used the car for weight and structural support. And to create a similarly fitted, modular kitchen/luggage unit that could slide in and out as needed.

The 25-ft, umbrella-like tent extended in Dymaxion House fashion, from a single mast on the rear roof. The tent's verticals were strong enough to hold the tent up while the car "left for short errands," though, a specific request from Ford.

My favorite part of this whole deal is the four bunk/cots suspended from the sides of the car. Two more sleeping spots opened up inside when the kitchen unit was extended. Somewhere in that kitchen unit, there was space for four suitcases, and a set of folding table & chairs, too.

I'd love to find out who at MIT worked with Fuller on this project. And frankly, I'd love to find that the Fullerwagon is still around somewhere, waiting for me to discover and rescue it. But I'm dubious. The Ranch Wagon itself was only a loaner from the Ford dealer in Cambridge. And on their own, none of the components gives off the aura of obvious historical importance or at least the aesthetic charm necessary to survive all these years. So this is probably it right here.

Photos by Edw. N. Smith from "They're Tents --Or Are They?," Ford Times July 1953 [daddytypes flickr]
Previously: WTD: The Ford Buckminster Fullerwagon

1 Comment

Station wagons are awesome. 'Nuff said.

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