Unique Aero Car at April 7-10 Food Lion AutoFair
The Aero Car has been handcrafted by aviation enthusiast and former pilot Dave Major of Benton, Kan. Based on a 1959 BMW 600, Major's unique Aero Car features a handmade propeller, wings, a vertical tail stabilizer and working aircraft instruments.
"My Aero Car keeps me flying a little bit," said Major, who recently hung up his wings after 25 years of recreational flying.
Major, a 64-year-old retired junior high school teacher, bought the BMW from longtime friend Fred Scritt in 1990, and together they began the car's transformation. It took only three months to complete the basic work, including the wings, tail and propeller.
"I always try and make the aircraft items work if they are going to be apart of the Aero Car," said Major who constantly searches for aircraft items than can be adapted to the car.
In addition to the wings, propeller and tail, the BMW has been fitted with aircraft tires, an altimeter, an Emergency Locator Transmitter and a compass.
The car's speedometer has been replaced with an airspeed indicator that uses a sensor on one of the wings to measure air pressure. Major has replaced the taillights with working navigational lights and a windshield wiper motor has been adapted to drive the propeller.
During the numerous modifications, Major has been careful to make sure the car remains street legal. He says it now has over 67,000 street miles and has been trailered over 60,000 miles to car shows, parades and air shows across the country and in Canada.
Powered by a two-cylinder, 600cc motorcycle engine, the BMW 600 is one of the most unique automobiles to roll off a German assembly line. A reported 35,000 cars were built during a three-year production run from 1957 to 1959.
A stock BMW 600 is 114 inches long, has a 66.9-inch wheelbase, is 55 inches wide, 54 inches high and tips the scales at 1,135 pounds. The car features a single, forward-opening door and has a reported top speed of 62 mph.
As Major tours the country with his Aero Car, the most popular question is: "Will it fly?"
That was answered while filming a news segment for a Wichita, Kan., television station. As the Aero Car raced down a grass runway side-by-side with a small airplane, the car actually "caught some air."
"It only made it six inches off the ground and that was due to a bump in the grass runway," Major noted.
Food Lion AutoFair is the nation's largest automotive extravaganza. The four-day event includes a car show featuring various makes and models from more than 50 clubs, thousands of parts and memorabilia vendors an a collector car auction conducted by Tom Mack. A car corral, located on the 1.5-mile superspeedway, features nearly 2,000 vehicles of all makes and models that are available for sale or trade.
Food Lion AutoFair hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults. Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5.
Contact the Charlotte Motor Speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com for additional information.