Some 20th century remarkable inventions

Bucky Fuller’s1933 Dynamaxion performed well for 11 passengers, using 3 gallons per 100 km at 113 km/h and top speed of 190 km/h.

At a mere 1043kg, the Teardrop Body, an attractive carry-over using a Ford V8 85 cycle engine with its transaxle and rear axle reversed giving a rear engine and front wheel drive created front traction without steering: so far, so good.

Back-wheel drive with a single steering tire turning at 180, run by a system of cables and pulley providing a steering ratio of 30 and no a caster angle. Too many errors.

Stability was poor, but how can we hold the fact against this inspired American architect that he wasn’t schooled in the fundamentals of automobile dynamics, which had not yet been written.


The 1938 Tatra T77, created by the Austrian engineer, Hans Ledwinka was the most advanced car of its time with 6 seats and a maximum of 150 km/h.

A 3.4l V8 motor with a hemispherical cylinder head, dry sump pump, air cooling, developing 60 hp at 3500 t/min position holder rear.

overhang, Paul Jaray designed the body and three-part front window with a 0.212 Cx

Independent suspension on all four wheels, a rear swinging half-axle for the rear engine.

In 1961, a judge determined that Ferdinand Porsche’s Beetle drew excessively from this design.

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The MacPherson strut : one of the most cited names since its 1949 patent, engineer at Chevrolet where he developped the Cadet, never industrialized because too expensive, then at Ford USA, the first serie application done on the French Ford Vedette.

A 50 years sucess, the simplification to the max, acts as a foil for the purists.

For analog reasons, the motorcycle telescopic fork is critized, but equip 99.9% of the market.

"Perfection is obtained, non when there is no mre to add, but when there is no more to withdraw" said Antoine de Saint-Exupry. Except when the target is not reached.


In 1953, Messerschmitt developed the KR175, a modern 3-wheeler, two seats in tandem, reaching 130 km/h with only 13 hp.


The British engineer Eric Gough (also well-known for his diagram tire torque vs. side force) invented the Hexapod, also called the Parallel Robot or the Gough-Stewart platform for a tire test bench at Dunlop.

Between two solids, each defined by a triangle, it allows 6 Degrees of Freedom with 6 linear actuators. Its basic shape is octahedral, known from the antiquity as Platonic Solid.


Unbeatable in its simplicity, the Hexapod is widely used for flight and driving simulators.

In 1955, Walter Musser invented the , Harmonic Drive Gear that was used for the Apollo Moon Rover, as a lightweight, compact and Backlash-freehigh gear reduction ratio wheel

The invention was smart in its simplicity.


The DS Citren is exhibited at Paris Motorshow in 1955. It is revolutionary :

  • froont wheel drive, very aerodynamic,
  • front overhang longitudinal engine, 65% of curb weight on the front,
  • hydropneumatic suspension with levelling system extremly soft,
  • hydraulically power steering,
  • gearbox shift hydraulically activated,
  • front disc brake with high assistance,
  • steering geometry with the kingpin in the wheel symmetry plane zeroing steering torque

It will give rise to passions.


Alec Isigonis designed the Mini in 1957 to accommodate 4 passengers in 3.05 meters and 600 kg, which was long unsurpassed. The new post-war small economical cars (Beetle, 2cv, R4, Fiat 500) offered 4 seats, are mass-produced and make dissapear the Three-Wheelers.

In 1974, two major innovations on the Audi 50 improved its road traction:

  • The negative scrub radius of the front steering wheels stabilizes braking when there is asymmetrical adherence.
  • The rear beam axle creates a strong anti-roll and improves the front traction



Starting in 1984, the german independant engineer Trautwein developed for Piaggio Tilting Three Wheelers, MP3 precursors.


The Ecomobile is a fully streamlined 2-wheeler offering the performance of a Porsche while getting the mileage of a Twingo, thank to mitigated weight (450 kg) and ultra low drag (A.Cd=0.18 in his latest version).

moteur roue scooter

The scooter engine is a daring example of the integration of an engine and its CVT transmission as a wheel suspension arm.


The Ducati is a particularly successful and aesthetic example of motor and chassis integration.

In 1994, Anton Van Zanten invented the Electronic Stability Program for Bosch.He initiated unilateral braking, which was very effective for steering during skids, to limit the possible loss of control; it is a very useful addition compared to the ABS.

I’m betting on little Anton’s practicality.

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