The Beechcraft Plainsman was an airplane for the road, a hybrid with a small gasoline engine generating power for four electric motors. As World War II ended, aircraft manufacturer Beechcraft worried that profits would suffer due to a lack of defense contracts. The postwar car market was exploding after four years without car production. Beechcraft executives saw a future in applying airplane engineering to a car intended for production.
The Plainsman was an odd looking duck, but for good reasons. Its bulbous styling was aerodynamic before anyone cared. It was spacious, with huge windows that provided aircraft type views. A radical hybrid power train gave the six-seater a 30 M.P.G. rating. The sedan was said to be capable of 160 M.P.H, a blinding speed for its day. Electric motors at each wheel were supplied energy by a small gasoline engine, much like a Chevrolet Volt of today, but minus its storage batteries. Beechcraft announced that production models would be priced as high as a Cadillac limousine when it introduced its single prototype.
A circular antenna mounted above the windshield would allow the Plainsman's driver to make in-car telephone calls, a radical idea in 1946. The interior was safety-designed with copious padding, and a lack of protruding bits. Strangely enough for an aircraft maker, seat belts were not included.
Beechcraft engineers were driving automotive engineering into the future, but soon enough, the Cold War began in earnest and government aircraft contracts piled high on executives' desks, burying their plans for a radical new car. Airplane production ramped up and the radical Plainsman fell off the radar into the oblivion of forgotten dreams.