In 1929, Buckminster Fuller was introduced to an artist who shared his own mania for “comprehensivity”: Isamu Noguchi. Their first meeting at Romany Marie’s Tavern in New York City was a transformative experience for both men. Noguchi had just returned from studying in Europe on a Guggenheim fellowship, where he worked alongside Constantin Brancusi. For hours Noguchi would listen to Fuller’s orations at the tavern on the utopian possibilities of technology revolving around his “Dymaxion” house and automobile.
In later years, Fuller recalled that the aim of the “Dymaxion” transport project was “to develop an omni-medium transport vehicle to function in the sky, in negotiable terrain, or on water.” Using existing Ford Motor engines, Fuller postulated that by taking the conceptual basis of an airplane and applying the principles of wind resistance and the aerodynamic shape of fish, he could develop a new concept of the automobile. The word “Dymaxion” as an amalgamation of the words dynamism, maximum and ions, represented the energy that Fuller felt could be harnessed and used to advance the current simplistic concept of land transport.
Fuller originally sketched his stylized vehicle in 1927 and in 1932 looked to his friend, Noguchi, to sculpt the three-wheel model for the “Dymaxion” car based on these early drawings. The models were later painted by Fuller.
In the full-scale prototypes, Fuller abandoned the multi-terrain concept and sought to maximize the efficiency of existing technology, using rear wheel steering and aerodynamic shaping. The three realized “Dymaxion” cars were plagued by bad press following a fatal driving accident at the 1933 World’s Fair debut and the project was abandoned.
Dymaxion Car Model, Executed by Isamu Noguchi, Painted by Buckminster Fuller, Sold at Auction $92,500, at Sotheby’s