A Pictorial Glimpse of Stout Scarab Motor vehicles
The Stout Scarab is credited by some as the world's first production minivan, and a 1946 experimental prototype of the Scarab became the world's first car with a fiberglass bodyshell and air suspension.
Video - The Stout Scarab: The World's First Minivan
The Scarab's interior space was maximized by its ponton styling, which dispensed with running boards and expanded the cabin to the full width of the car. A long wheelbase and engine placement directly over the rear axle moved the driver forward, enabling a steering wheel almost directly above the front wheels. Passengers entered through a single, large, common door. A flexible seating system could be easily reconfigured (except for the driver's seat, which was fixed). Anticipating the seating in modern minivans, such as the Chrysler Voyager and Renault Espace, a small card table could be fitted with the passenger seats as needed. Interiors were appointed in leather, chrome, and wood. Design elements also worked in a stylized ancient Egyptian scarab motif, including the car's emblem. Visibility to the front and sides was similar to that of an observation car, although rearward vision was negligible and there were no rear-view mirrors.
The innovations did not end with the car's layout and body design. In an era where almost everything on the road had rigid axles with leaf springs, the Scarab featured independent suspension using coil springs on all four corners, providing a smoother, quieter ride. The rear-engine-induced weight bias coupled to the coil spring suspension and "Oil Shock Absorbers" endowed the Scarab with "Smooth Riding and Easy Steering on Rough Roads" if not very good handling and traction. The rear swing axle suspension with long coil spring struts was inspired by aircraft landing gear. The Scarab suspension itself inspired the later Chapman strut used by Lotus from their Lotus Twelve model of 1957.
The Ford flathead V8 drove the rear wheels via a custom Stout-built three-speed manual transaxle. The engine was reversed from its normal position, mounted directly over the rear axle and with the flywheel and clutch facing forwards. The transmission was mounted ahead of this, reversing and lowering the driveline back to the axle. This unusual layout would later be repeated by the Lamborghini Countach.
Stout Scarab Vehicles
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Stout-Scarab Automobiles Through the Years
Reviewed by Gene Wright on