A two-wheeled, gyroscopically-stabilized prototype vehicle
It was in 1967 when Alex Tremulis, a stylist and Automobile Hall of Fame inductee, and Thomas Summers, a gyroscope expert, built a prototype vehicle known as the Gyro-X. Their company, Gyro Transport Systems Automobile, utilized a built-in gyroscope in their two-wheel car to remain upright when not moving. Unfortunately, the company went bankrupt before they could take the Gyro-X into production, and the one-and-only built car became an orphan.
Over the years, that car has passed from owner to owner, its condition deteriorating along the way. Finally, in 2011, the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, purchased the Gyro-X – but as a way different vehicle. It had been much modified to a three-wheeler with no gyroscope. The goal was to restore the prototype to its original condition, which included years of research and hard work to piece the car, and its history, back together.
“According to an article in the September 1967 issue of Science & Mechanics, the finished car could reach a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h), and could swoop through 40-degree banked turns without tipping. It weighed in at 1,850 pounds (839 kg), measured 47 inches (119 cm) in height, just 42 inches (107 cm) in width, and 15 feet, 5 inches (4.7 meters) in length. It rolled on two 15-inch wheels, and was powered by a small 80-horsepower engine.
Its single 20-inch hydraulically-driven gyroscope – developed by noted “gyrodynamist” Thomas O. Summers Jr. – spun at up to 6,000 rpm, creating 1,300 foot pounds (1,763 Nm) of torque. It did take approximately three minutes to build up to that speed, however, meaning that drivers couldn’t just get in and go. A set of training wheel-like retractable outriggers held the car up in the meantime.”
Check out the museum’s website for more information and images: Lane Motor Museum