These human-powered jalopies invoke the fantastical vision of Buckminster Fuller.

One of the most striking vehicles in the ongoing North American International Auto Show is not a shiny-new Tesla or 3D-printed car but a boxy, thin-wheeled jalopy that looks like it delivered milk in the 1950s:

This celebration of 90-degree angles is the Cyclone, a concept vehicle from Michigan collective The Future People that runs solely on the power of two people pumping pedals. The contraption's inventors constructed it, hilariously, using boat-building techniques, allowing enough room in the spacious, mahogany-clad interior to stuff in cargo and another couple of passengers. "The Cyclone," they crow, "is an indispensable part of a complete sustainable luxury lifestyle."

And it's just one in a small line of green Frankenvehicles that The Future People are developing. Included in the Detroit auto show is also their Zeppelin, a sleek space pickle that recalls Buckminster Fuller's 1933 Dymaxion car (though without the whole fatal-accident thing). This ride is again propelled by two cyclists, though it has an assist from an electric motor that pushes it up to 25 mph. The vehicle can last for 20 miles on the motor alone, and allegedly gets the equivalent of an incredible 700 miles per gallon:

The Future People

The Future People hope that as the world turns away from fossil fuels, roads will teem with these environmentally friendly, throwback-looking buggies. They write:

The Future Cycles project was born from the realization that the American transportation infrastructure will far outlive the gasoline-powered vehicles that we currently use on it. Our question is, "What transportation alternatives could replace these vehicles that would deal with shifting energy availability and still provide the kind of independent travel that our infrastructure requires?"

New alternatives would need to be much lighter in weight, highly efficient, use only local sustainable energy, and be inexpensive to own and maintain. The Future Cycles project proposes vehicles that combine the weather protection and carrying capacity of a car with the efficiency of a bike. Our goal is to create a car-like experience in a vehicle that is human-powered and legally defined as a bicycle.

For those not in Detroit, here's a peek under the hood of the Zeppelin and the Cyclone:

The Future People

H/t Designboom

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. The Cincinnati skyline and river
    Life

    Maps Reveal Where the Creative Class Is Growing

    “The rise of the rest” may soon become a reality as once-lagging cities see growth of creative class employment.

  2. Little kids under a blanket.
    Perspective

    How U.S. Child Care Is Segregated: A Brooklyn Story

    At a daycare in a gentrifying Brooklyn area, is the entrance of racially diverse, middle-class families income integration, or more akin to colonization?

  3. Perspective

    Hurricane Barry: Lessons From a Disaster That Wasn’t

    Hurricane Barry largely spared New Orleans, but it underscored that climate change brings complex impacts and hard choices.

  4. School children facing the camera with three adults in the back.
    Perspective

    How Gentrification by Urban Millennials Improves Public School Diversity

    In rapidly gentrifying areas of Queens and Brooklyn, the new population is spurring a gradual desegregation of some New York City public schools.

  5. Design

    When ‘Big Plans’ Could Change the World

    A new exhibition looks back at the period of grand urban design and social reform in New York City, Boston, and Chicago.

×