1946 - Bike of the Future: $35,000
If you're not riding a Spacelander, your shiny new set of wheels might be obsolete. In 1946, inventor/designer, Benjamin George Bowden, introduced the 'Bicycle of the Future." Depending on how you look at it, Bowden's Spacelander lived up to it's claim when one recently sold at auction for a whooping $35,000. Those of you die-hard cyclist reading this might certainly agree; any bike that fetches over ten grand is a ride reserved for either the pros, the wealthy, or the whimsical hearted few with a passion for perfection. Whether be it futuristic, or just suave and sleek, the Spacelander is a marvel to behold—and at $35,000, certainly a dream bike that is still alive and well and - at least in the minds of collector. This beauty featured at Wright Auction
It's rumored that only 522 ever made it from factory to shelf, and sources say they were priced at $90, which equates to a hefty $1,169 in today's terms. The single-speed Spacelander featured a lightweight fiberglass body, battery operated lights and a fancy push-button horn. Bowden's unique design signature graced these luxurious, motorcycle look-a-likes, they are one of kind spectacles and would display nicely as a center-piece in your living room.
As featured in the Brooklyn Museum:
"The Spacelander is a marvel of postwar biomorphic design. Its curving lines and amoeba-like voids represent the mutation of the prewar streamlined style into a new expression based on organic, rather than machine-made, forms. Although the prototype—made for a 1946 exhibition of British industrial design—was a critical success, Benjamin Bowden failed in his attempts to have it manufactured. By the time it finally went into production in the United States in 1960, tastes had changed and the price of the bicycle—$89.50—was too high. It is believed that only about five hundred examples were ever sold, making it one of the rarest and most sought-after industrial designs of the mid-twentieth century. When new, this bicycle was bright red; the color has faded over time."
Wikipedia Says: For the 1946 exhibition Britain Can Make It, Bowden submitted a design for a highly streamlined bicycle which he named the Classic. The bicycle was constructed of pressed aluminium and featured a driveshaft and a hub dynamo that stored energy when riding downhill and gave a boost when riding uphill.[2] Although the bicycle's unusual appearance created substantial public interest initially, British bicycle makers were reluctant to invest in the high degree of re-tooling needed to manufacture the bicycle. In 1949 Bowden pursued the possibility of having the Classic manufactured in South Africa, but, according to Bowden, abrupt changes in South African import policy prevented that plan from materializing. In the early or mid 1950s, Bowden moved to Michigan, in the United States. While in Muskegon, Michigan in 1959, he met with Joe Kaskie, of the George Morrell Corporation, a custom molding company. Kaskie suggested molding the bicycle in fibreglass instead of aluminium. Although he retained the futuristic appearance of the Classic, Bowden abandoned the hub dynamo, and replaced the drive-train with a more common sprocket-chain assembly. The new name, Spacelander, was chosen to capitalize on interest in the Space Race.[2] Financial troubles from the distributor forced Bowden to rush development of the Spacelander, which was released in 1960 in five colours: Charcoal Black, Cliffs of Dover White, Meadow Green, Outer Space Blue, and Stop Sign Red.[6] The bicycle was priced at $89.50, which made it one of the more expensive bicycles on the market. In addition, the fibreglass frame was relatively fragile, and its unusual nature made it difficult to market to established bicycle distributors.[2]Only 544 Spacelander bicycles were shipped before production was halted, although more complete sets of parts were manufactured.
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