1946 Beechcraft Plainsman Concept Car Styling
The 1946 Beechcraft Plainsman concept car styling combined airplane and automotive themes, with dismal results.
Dominating the form was a tall aircraft-type greenhouse emphasizing upward visibility via auxiliary panes above the windshield and door windows. This was separated from the main glass by thin bars that appeared to wrap around from one back door to the other. The windshield itself was divided but radically curved both outboard and above.
Doors were cut into the roof to ease entry/exit, foreshadowing both the Tucker and the far more distant 1963 Corvette Sting Ray coupe. The high roofline made for towering head room despite chair-high seats, while the rangy external dimensions gave plenty of maneuvering room for the shoulders, elbows, and legs of six adults.
The bench-type driver's seat offered four-way electric adjustment, still a novelty in 1946. To the right of that seat was a separate two-person "double lounge."
Even more than spaciousness, the 1946 Beechcraft Plainsman interior stressed safety and simplicity. Door panels, for example, were flat and protrusion-free. (Solenoid-activated pushbuttons substituted for conventional door handles both inside and out.)
Instruments and controls were sensibly grouped around the steering wheel in an otherwise spare-looking dash, though Beech planned to include an "economy meter" giving a continuous mpg reading, and even a two-way mobile telephone (hence the circular roof-mount antenna). The speedometer was in direct driver view above the steering column in a small, black, hooded pod.
There were no seatbelts -- surprising for an aircraft maker -- but leather-covered rubber "crash pads" adorned the dash and the tops of the front seats. The roof structure was allegedly quite strong despite its slim A-pillars, which also aided visibility -- a safety plus.
The Plainsman arguably looked dumpiest from behind. "Blind" rear roof quarters and a smallish backlight limited driver vision -- odd given the emphasis on that to the sides and forward.
High roofline apart, the Beechcraft Plainsman was just another late-1940s "bathtub," though wind-tunnel tests confirmed the aerodynamic efficiency of its rounded lines. Go to the next page to learn more about the performance of this concept car.