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General Motors

The GM Lean Machine was developed by Frank Winchell of General Motors (USA) in the early 1980’s as a concept car. The single seater vehicle is a “lean” machine in the true sense of the word as it leans into corners like a motorcycle whilst keeping the stability of a normal car. The original model was powered by a 15 hp 2-cylinder engine that produced a maximum speed of 80 mph with a fuel economy of 80 mpg at 40 mph.  Shortly afterwards a second model was produced that was powered by a larger 38 hp engine. With a total body weight of 159kg this gave the vehicle outstanding performance and the Lean Machine was able to reach 60 mph in just 6.8 seconds with a fuel economy of over 200 mpg.

For the futuristic 1993 movie “Demolition Man” starring Sylvestor Stalone and Wesley Snipes the GM Lean Machine was one of seventeen concept cars produced by General Motors to be featured in the film with an insurance value of $69 million.

Another 3-wheeled concept car by GM is the “Runabout”.  The vehicle had a front wheel that could turn 180 degrees to allow parking in the tightest of spots and the rear end of the car contained two detachable shopping trolleys with wheels that would fold away when the trolley was parked in the vehicle. The Runabout had space for 2 adults in the front and 3 children in the rear.  The vehicle was first presented at the General Motors Futurama Exhibit in 1964 at the New York World’s Fair.

Following on from the Runabout, a similar vehicle was created in 1969. The XP 511 Commuter car was designed for short urban journeys.

The 1964 GM Runabout. (My thanks to Kerry Croxton for sending in this picture from the Encyclopedia of Dream Cars by Chris Rees)

The 1969 GM XP 511 Commuter Car.

The GM Lean Machine.

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