Home » Inflatable Windshields And Sporty Fire Trucks Were Once A Thing

Inflatable Windshields And Sporty Fire Trucks Were Once A Thing

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For reasons that are most likely unhealthy, I have a pretty good-sized stack of old Popular Science and Popular Mechanix and Popular Scichanix and Swank magazines, and when I travel by airship I like to bring some issues with me to read, so the people sitting next to me think I’ve just woken from a coma I fell into in the mid-to-late 1960s. This allows me to really get in a good spit-take whenever someone mentions Nixon resigning or to really freak out when someone uses their smartphone. For this most recent trip, I had the August 1969 issue of Popular Science, and I found in it two largely forgotten automotive tidbits that I think are worth remembering. Are you ready? You’re not, but too bad.

First, what’s the first thing that pops into your head when your windshield shatters on the highway? Probably broken glass and bugs! Ha ha ha get it because the windshield bits would fly at your head and – forget it, never mind. It’s probably something like, damn, I sure wish I had a pool raft I could see through to solve this problem! Well, my friends, once, long ago, this was an option. Behold the Lanum Products Inflatable Emergency Windshield!

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What the hell is going on here? It appears that if your windshield takes a rock and just shatters all to hell (a YouTube commenter notes that, at that point, you should thank heavens that whatever the hell shattered your windshield to such an extent didn’t kill you), you can unfold this thing from the trunk and inflate the rim like a pool toy, then tape it in place as a temporary replacement windshield. I think the inflatable rim helps form a tight seal into the windshield frame. It seems pretty clever, but there’s hardly any information about these online. Well, except for this video from France, as it boldly reminds us at the beginning, featuring a Renault R8:

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I’m impressed the windshield wipers still work on this thing. It’s really pretty clever!

The other thing I want to show you, from the very same page, is a type of vehicle I’d never really considered existing: a small, sporty fire engine:

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Woah. A bit of research shows this Magnum X-2 was a prototype made by Ansul, a company still around that makes firefighting chemicals and equipment. That catchy name has a hell of a backstory, too: it comes from ANhydrous SULfur Dioxide, a refrigerant.

There’s not much online about this 100 mph fire engine, really, but I did manage to find a couple of press photos of the thing:

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Magnum2

I mean, it’s pretty cool-looking! Long hood, short deck, hood-mounted chemical cannon; it looks like it could have been used as a background space tactical fast attack vehicle in Space:1999 or something. Like, tell me you can’t picture Martin Landau in his jumpsuit tearing ass around the moon in that thing:

There’s a couple other things worth bringing to your attention from this issue, too. Like these pictures from an article showing how to assemble a VW-based Meyers Manx-knockoff dune buggy from the Sears catalog. What’s interesting and unmentioned in the story are how they’re using a VW Beetle chassis with a VW Type 3 “pancake” motor, which has that distinctive fan shroud:

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Here’s how the low-profile/fan on crankshaft Type 3 motor compares to the upright-fan Type 1/Beetle motor:

Type 1 Vs Pancakeb

You don’t see those motors in dune buggies all that often, but I think they look really cool. Plus, no overheating if you throw the belt!

Speaking of Volkswagens, there’s also this shady-seeming ad:

Usedvwadandstuff

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So… you can start a home import business, according to B.L. Mellinger, Jr, famous world trader, that’s either bikinis or tape recorders or diamonds or used VW Beetles? The prices listed for the VWs, $955 are a bit more than half a new VW from that era. A new Beetle was $1,799 new, which is about $15,000 today, so these used ones are going for an equivalent of just under $8,000? That’s not bad? But I’m not sure I trust whatever B.L. has got going on here. These VWs and tape decks and bikinis had to be packed with cocaine or something, right?

Speaking of crimes, look at this amazing refugee from the world of cartoons that sort of made it to reality:

Crooknet

A net gun! What’s amazing about this is that these seem to be actually real, even today:

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Wanna capture something sitting on a Kik-Step? It’s possible!

It still feels like a cartoon.

 

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This 1960 Issue of Popular Science Has Front-Wheel Drive Car Owners Talking Smack And Early-Autonomy Experiments That Still Make Sense Today

I’m Pretty Sure This Renault Is The Only Time A Carmaker Put A Whole Other Bumper Onto A Bumper

Meet The Strange Motorized Chair Made By A German Company And Named After A Monster From Jewish Folklore

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Tommy Helios
Tommy Helios
1 year ago

And now I have itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini stuck in my head. Thanks for that ear worm torch.

Dale Mitchell
Dale Mitchell
1 year ago

wow I am out of breath; that was like 9 articles crammed into one!
Surprised the spider man cosplayers do not use the net-gun-thingy
Mebbe they do, not like anyone is paying them any attention..

Clark B
Clark B
1 year ago

Old cars with broken windshields got me thinking…my 1972 Super Beetle is still on its original windshield. Or close to it, there’s a 1978 inspection sticker on it. That car has done over 200k and was a daily driver for the previous owners for nearly 20 years. Meanwhile, I’ve had to have windshields replaced on all of my daily drivers at least once. I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I need more coffee.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 year ago
Reply to  Clark B

Something something aerodynamics blowing rocks and debris over the windshield on your beetle instead of at it?

Also, beetles have pretty small windshields compared to the vast expanses of sloped glass on modern cars, so your beetle has a smaller target so to speak.

Bill McCoskey
Bill McCoskey
11 months ago
Reply to  Clark B

There was a good reason for this temporary windshield, especially in Europe, the UK, and other countries that didn’t require the AS1 safety glass. Many European cars in the 1950s & ’60s had tempered windshields, that, like tempered side and rear glass, shattered into thousands of pieces when struck hard enough. That situation meant there was no windshield glass at all, unlike the AS1 glass windshields that usually just cracked when hit by a small item like a rock. My Tatra T2-602 has a single layer tempered windshield and I’m always worried it’s gonna fracture into tiny glass shards if a rock strikes it.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago

It’s really disappointing that the future is really dragging behind, and we’re not a bunch of sexy jumpsuit people posting these comments from our respective high-tech space toilets. I should be pooping on a rocketship instead by now! That movie was supposed to be 1999, man!

This future sucks.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

“we’re not a bunch of sexy jumpsuit people posting these comments from our respective high-tech space toilets”

Speak for yourself. I’ve got a sexy jumpsuit and a pooping hammock, that’s just as good right?

Last edited 1 year ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 year ago

Pooping… hammock? Do I even want to know?

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

It’s self explanatory.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago

Yes, but are you pooping in microgravity?

It’s not a space pooping hammock unless you’re pooping in microgravity.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

The last thing I would ever want to do is poop in microgravity.
I’d sooner poop on a planet where everything goes in reverse, like Benjamin Button or Cat from ‘Red Dwarf’.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 year ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Even more disappointing, the prequel series, UFO, took place in 1980, and you should be driving a gull-winged car with a roof-scoop and wearing a silver-mesh mini-dress and purple wig.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2PoXfZdYVU

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago

Glad to see someone else here likes this piece of spy-scifi bizarreness!

Jonee Eisen
Jonee Eisen
1 year ago

Best tv theme music ever. How did they think things were going to advance that much in 10 years?

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago

I’m disappointed not to see some sort of miracle device that I could plug into my cigarette lighter that would give me 150 MPG.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
1 year ago

Ah, the missed opportunities in life (and cars). My spouse had friends in a somewhat remote distributed housing development. They had a type-3 powered dune buggy that they just used to go get the mail. I knew at the time that when they aged and would have to move, that the dune buggy would get left behind or sold. All I had to do was to ask that if they were going to sell it, let me know first. My spouse knew them well enough that when that time came, they would more likely just give it to me. I didn’t ask, I didn’t get a dune buggy. It was even purple, my favorite color. Ah well.

Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
1 year ago

“Make your first import order 10 minutes after you get my proved [sic?] drop ship plan.”

Ahhh, great reminder that there are no truly new scams out there. All those Amazon drop-shipping business “gurus” must have gotten the idea from their grandparents.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
1 year ago

Listen, if you combine a fire truck with a Ferrari, you don’t paint it sliver. I’m working on the Hot Tub Time machine, just to go back to that Stone Age and hand my dude some red paint.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

Well having been alive to watch that Love Boat knockoff Space 1999 I have to tell you i preferred Quark. A trash space team sent out to collect space trash. A binary science officer called Ficus, half human half brocolli. A secondary officer who has both human sexes, and pilots played by the doublemint twins. Now this is a series that Metv needs to bring back for Pride Month. Also for those not currently aware of the internet we have Temu (i think) same crap products) but still for those 70 prices.

BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
1 year ago

And Lemons version of the hotrod firetruck incoming in 3,2,1 . . .

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago

Wacky waving inflatable wiper arm flailing tube window!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

Now thats funny i dont care who you are.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago

C’mon, that’s the best you got.
If that fruit you picked was hanging any lower it could accurately be described as a fruit puddle. Don’t plagiarized old ‘Family Guy’ episodes for smileys.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago

If we’re going Gerry Anderson scifi shows, I’ll submit the X-2 could also be a last-line-of-defense ground vehicle to combat the strangely desultory, one alien at a time invasion they were fighting off on U.F.O.

DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
1 year ago

Speaking of science, wasn’t there a BJ machine that was intended for a vehicle not too long ago?

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 year ago

You’ve met my ex?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

No can i get a picture and her number?

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago

You mean the hotdog sizzler?

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago

No driving over 80mph.
Could lead to windshield asphyxiation.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

Yeah 80mph in what i think was a BMW 2002?

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago

Auto-erratic asphyxiation.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 year ago

I have to believe there was something lost in translation and it was supposed to be 80 kph. I mean, can a Renault R8 with 49 hp hit 80 mph?

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago

Yes it can. The particular circumstances in which it reaches said speeds happen to be deadly to any occupants though.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
7 months ago

I don’t believe in karma, but I believe there are things that can happen that very specifically force you to understand what an asshole you were.

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
1 year ago

I refuse to believe that that B.L. Mellinger ad is real and is not just a creation of that Wagner guy who does up silly fictitious products and signs.

Sklooner
Sklooner
1 year ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

The company and man existed, until his wife snuffed him in 1990

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 year ago
Reply to  Sklooner

I had to look, and you’re right. More interesting was the 3rd result: someone has that personal record he would send you as a clickable mp3 file

Chris Wright
Chris Wright
1 year ago

Holy carp I just went down a kik-step rabbit hole of memories. I gotta get me one of them for my garage!

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
1 year ago

That net gun is essentially what they use for drone capture now. Unless you train your eagle/hawk to do it.

I hope someone tried to buy that $995 Beetle, because I want to know what sort of hidden fees/taxes were added on, because it seems too good to be true.

Sklooner
Sklooner
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

Better off to get a Changli, oddly I saw a custom licence plate in Edmonton with Changli on it, on some sort of white SUV

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

What noone remembers the $50 WWII Jeep in the back of comic books and $2.95 XRay specs?

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

What about the plans you could order that told you how to build your own hovercraft out of plywood and a vacuum cleaner?

BentleyBoy
BentleyBoy
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Made it, Mom was NOT happy 🙂

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