In 1989, Back to The Future Part II creators boldly predicted that by the year 2015, we’d have hoverboards, cars that are more reminiscent of airplanes than cars, and a host of other technologies. Some of the movie’s future visions were surprisingly accurate. However, the vast majority of the “future” in the film was more science fiction hopes and dreams than anything. The flying car, however, had actually already been around for 35 years by the time the movie came out.
You can buy this 1956 Taylor Aerocar and, yes, it’s really a flying car
Sure, it’s not a plutonium-powered hovercraft that converts to a jet and propels you down a highway in the sky. However, the Taylor Aerocar is an actual flying car with FAA airworthiness certifications that you can actually drive. There is a bit of an issue, though. Depending on what sources you believe, there are either only five or six of these amazing marvels of the past, so they don’t come cheap.
There is one listed for sale currently, though. Aerocar serial number two, identified by its tail number, N103D, has a colorful history and is currently up for grabs. It even has its own website called Aerocar for Sale. On the site, the current owner, Marilyn, outlines the history of N103D and how she came to possess it.
Before we dig into the history, though, let’s take a look at the specs. The Aerocar uses a 160-horsepower Lycoming engine that both propels it down the road and through the air. When in car mode, the Aerocar has its own trailer to pull the wings and fuselage behind it, should you so choose to do so. Unfortunately, this particular Aerocar last had its annual FAA inspection in 1976 and hasn’t flown since 1977. It would take a bit of TLC to get it airworthy again.
Though the website doesn’t list a price currently, Sports Car Market reports that the asking price for N103D was $3.5 million in 2006 and is now for sale with an asking price of $2.2 million. Though that is a substantial discount and the vehicle is extremely rare, it’s a bit of a tough sell. Especially considering the only airworthy one (N101D) just sold at Barrett-Jackson in January 2020 for $275,000.
The history of Aerocar N103D is pretty unique
The original owner of Aerocar N103D was a cranberry farmer from Massachusetts. He took the flying car to Cuba early in the Fidel Castro era. Fidel’s brother Raul was flying in the Aerocar when it ran low on fuel. Upon an emergency landing, a horse ran out in front of the Aerocar and damaged its wing.
After an improvised repair, the flying car made it back to Boston, where it was properly repaired. It was then sold to a Chrysler dealer in Philadelphia, where it was used for promotional purposes. Then it was acquired by Aerocar International in Ft. Worth, Texas, a company seeking to mass-produce the flying car. Those deals, unfortunately, fell through.
Perhaps the coolest use for the Aerocar came next when it ventured its way to Portland, Oregon. It became the traffic watch plane for a Portland radio station and netted over 1,000 hours of flying time over the course of a year before it was sold to a Procter & Gamble employee in Washington who both used it as a car and an airplane. Unfortunately, while in his possession, a gust of wind blew the Aerocar into a ravine while it was towing the wings and fuselage.
After this mishap, Molt Taylor, the inventor of the Aerocar, swapped the car module out from Aerocar N100D and used the damaged original N103D module for a prototype of the next Aerocar model.
The flying car eventually wound up in the hands of a Kansas City airline pilot who told the current owner it would not be for sale. Eventually, though, the Aerocar was sold to Marilyn as the pilot was in the middle of a divorce.
Now, it’s looking for the next chapter in its rich history.