Aircraft pioneer William B. Stout also created one of the more unique motor vehicles in automotive history, the wondrous Stout Scarab. Here’s some rare footage of a Scarab prototype on the road.
(This article is based on material that first appeared at Mac’s Motor City Garage in 2012.)
The Stout Scarabs were the creation of William B. Stout, who was also associated with Henry Ford and designed the Ford Tri-Motor aircraft. Between 1932 and 1946 he built a series of road-going prototype vehicles, but he was never able to achieve volume production. The layout was unique for its time in its utilization of space, devoting a major portion of the vehicle’s footprint to the passenger cabin—much like a modern minivan.
Other advanced features included unit construction and an aft-mounted Ford V8 drivetrain with swing-axle independent rear suspension. The styling is also novel, an enchanting mashup of Art Noveau, Art Deco, and Streamline Moderne elements.
A final, updated version (below) constructed in 1946, the Stout Scarab Experimental, utilized a fiberglass body shell—claimed to be the world’s first—and air suspension. That’s Bill Stout at the wheel. This car still exists today in the collection of the Detroit Historical Society.
The short film below is interesting on several counts. The clip is labeled 1936, but we think it might be a few years later. Those sure look like 1940 Ford headlamp buckets and trim on the front of the Scarab, no doubt installed to facilitate sealbeam lamps. Also, maybe some experts on Detroit history can identify the intriguing roads and scenery in the background. Assuming this was filmed in the Detroit area, that is. Stout’s engineering office and prototype facility was on Telegraph Road at Scott Street (just south of Michigan Avenue) in Dearborn, which may serve as a clue to the surroundings here. Wherever it was done, it’s a fascinating bit of film today. Please enjoy.