Design: The Dymaxion American

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on the spot. He might fall off the dock, between wind and water, and insist that he never got wet. He might wax furious. "His idea of mass housing seemed so silly in those days," remembers a family friend. "We were much more interested in having fun. Bucky would become so annoyed with us that he'd put on his hat and coat and walk the 20 miles into New York. It could be two in the morning. But Bucky would say, 'There are big things to be done in the world,' and off he would go. He might be gone for two or three days."

In 1930 Fuller moved to a $30-a-month flat in Greenwich Village. When he was not lecturing around town on his Dymaxion House, he liked to hang out at a Village joint called Romany Marie's with artists and writers, talking his and their heads off. Remembers Sculptor Isamu Noguchi: "He used to drink like a fish. He had become a God-possessed man, like a Messiah of ideas. He was a prophet of things to come. Bucky didn't take care of himself, but he had amazing strength. He often went without sleep for several days, and he didn't always eat either."

The Steer in the Rear. In 1938 he was taken on by FORTUNE, persuaded the editors to celebrate the magazine's tenth anniversary by making an inventory of world resources. In 1942. Fuller briefly joined the staff of LIFE, working on a "Dymaxion Globe"—a cut-out-and-fold map that was the first that displayed the round globe in flat facets without the distortion inherent in the Mercator projection, and in Fuller's words, "revealed the world's land masses as a one-world island at the bottom of the air-ocean."

But Bucky's major energies in this period were devoted to trying to improve the lot of mankind by improving two of man's proudest creations: the automobile and the bathroom.

The Dymaxion Car was one of the most dramatic leaps forward in automotive design that have ever been made. In a pre-streamlined world, where the old-fashioned buggy's boxy look prevailed, Fuller's car was built like an airplane fuselage. It had front-wheel drive with the engine in the rear. The steering wheel was connected to its single rear wheel, which enabled the car to run in circles around a man within a radius of a few feet or to drive straight into a parking space and swing in with only inches to spare. The body was aluminum, the chassis of chrome-molybdenum aircraft steel. It was air conditioned. And its streamlining was so perfect, even including the underside, that its standard 90-h.p. Ford engine could move it at 120 m.p.h.

With financial backing from friends, Bucky turned out three prototype Dymaxion Cars between 1933 and 1935. The U.S. automobile industry refused to admit his car to their annual Manhattan show, and Bucky retaliated by driving it around and around the block outside. An English group sent over a representative to test its performance. But Bucky's hopes of attracting a manufacturer went glimmering when, with the English visitor on board, the car was rammed by another automobile in Chicago and the driver killed. The car that had hit them, which belonged to a city official, was removed from the scene before the reporters arrived, and early newspaper stories carried screaming headlines, such as THREE-WHEELED CAR KILLS DRIVER. So ended the Dymaxion Car.

The Dymaxion Bathroom, developed in

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