THE INFLUENCE OF THE CUSTOM CAR

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When we explain AUTOCULT to the uninitiated, we know that not everyone is into cars. Some peoples’ eyes glaze over and just look for the closest exit as they be all, “I don’t really know anything about cars…hey, a squirrel!” And then, as we’re helping them back to their feet as they trip and fall over our foot (don’t know how that happened), we always share this little canned anecdote that always brings them right back to us: “Everyone has a story about cars…EVERYONE. Matter of fact, the only problem with ‘Star Wars’ is that Skywalker’s landspeeder wasn’t pinstriped with a rootbeer naugahyde tuck-n-roll interior.” Gets ‘em every time.

Now, we always knew George Lucas was a car guy. Two words: American Graffiti. And we could never put our finger on what inspired Young Luke’s landspeeder, but we knew there was some American mid-century design influence.

Until now.

We just stumbled across old photos of Ford’s Glideair – an experimental hovercraft that looked more like a levitating Falcon Club Wagon refrigerator than a vehicle – and stopped dead in our tracks. Ford VP of Engineering, Andrew Kucher, debuted the hoverbrick in 1961 in just about every newsstand nerd mag of the day. “We look upon Glideair as a new form of high-speed land transportation,” Kucher explained, “probably in the field of rail surface travel, for fast trips of distances of up to about 1,000 miles.” Right the fuck on, Kuch. Preach it, brother.

Now, as we all know, the Falcon never grew the “levapads” that Kucher was expounding upon as the mysterious flying technology, but we can only suppose that Lucas was well aware of the wraparound-windshielded SPAM tin and thought that with a little restyling, it’d make a dandy first car for a teenager living in the Goldfield, NV version of the sand planet, Tattooine. Just take a look at the promo shots from the Ford archives and re-acquaint yourself with banged-up landspeeder. Yeah, we thought so, too.

Would Lucas deny the inspiration? Don’t know. But we’d like to think that he might stumble across this and be all, “Dang, son…droppin’ knowledge like Beanie Sigal and shit.”

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