Popular Mechanics (July 1907, pp. 739-742) announced Louis Brennan’s proposed monorail system with great excitement; later, it was a triumphant success at the Japan–British Exhibition (1910), dazzling (among others) Winston Churchill and winning the Grand Prize! Predictions of speeds in excess of 150mph were advanced, but Brennan’s patented system was never adopted by any major customer.

In fact, monorails only ever featured as futuristic novelties, save in Japan. One of the biggest obstacles they faced was the increasingly popular private automobile.

It is one of life’s great ironies that Loius Brennan died after being knocked down by a car in Montreux in 1932.

Visits: 158

Motor Swimming

The footwear and bathing costume make this one seem even stranger than it is:

According to Popular Mechanics (Nov. 1906, p. 1104), this is an invention of M. Constantini:

Similar devices have appeared at intervals, but the modern ones are electric and altogether friendlier-looking.

Visits: 158

Flight Bike

Lawyer and aviation pioneer Ernest Archdeacon made many lasting contributions to airplane technology as president of the Aero Club of France; this prop-driven motorcycle was not among them! (Popular Mechanics, Dec. 1906, p. 1207)

This view shows the steering arrangements; the propeller was set on a long shaft that carried it clear of the front wheel.

Visits: 90


With the development of the 1905 Opel-Darracq Kriegswagen, Germany seemed poised to lead the world in armoured warfare–but the War Office rejected the vehicle in spite of the attention it attracted at the Berlin Automotive Show in February 1906. They rejected Ehrhardt’s hardened anti-balloon vehicle as well, so they went into the war with little in the way of AFVs (PM, Sept. 1906, p. 917).

Visits: 101

Bellend Balloon

In spite of their considerable promise, airships remained vulnerable, difficult to control, and expensive. And this one (PM, Sept. 1906, p. 904 ) looked like a massive penis. Image

The article describes it as resembling a “sea monster,” which is discreet. This German gas bag was invented by Ausust von Perseval (1861-1942), who went on to develop fully 22 airships during WWI and several more after.


Visits: 95