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Ever Seen A 1936 Stout Scarab?

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William B. Stout was a Michigan-based inventor, best remembered for building the first all-metal airplane and a portable folding house, one of which I own.

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In the 1930s, he turned his attention to the auto industry with his Stout Scarab, of which nine were made.

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His goal: to build a car of the future.

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It was no bigger than a normal car on the outside, with twice the room inside.  It had flush window glass and fenders incorporated into the body, so it would drive without wind noise.  It had a table, moving chairs, and three cigar lighters.

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In retrospect, some say Stout built the first minivan.  But the car, so radical and expensive for its time (about $5,000, which would be about $85,000 today), didn’t catch on.

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I paid $12,000 for one, and bought another for parts, then began a two-year restoration.  Once done, I drove the Scarab across country twice.  Along the way, I found Bill Stout’s grandson, living in Phoenix . I asked if the car was like what he remembered as a boy. He said it was, down to the finger and nose prints on the windows, from people wanting to see inside.

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Some thought Stout was a crackpot, at first.  But his ideas were more right than wrong.  I restored my Scarab to see if the car was as good as he said it was.  And it is.

William B. Stout was a Michigan-based inventor, best remembered for building the first all-metal airplane and a portable folding house, one of which I own. In the 1930s, he turned his attention to the auto industry with his Stout Scarab, of which nine were made. His goal: to build a car of the future. It was no bigger than a normal car on the outside, with twice the room inside.  It had flush window glass and fenders incorporated into the body, so it would drive without wind noise.  It had a table, moving chairs, and three cigar lighters. In retrospect, some say Stout built the first minivan.  But the car, so radical and expensive for its time (about $5,000, which would be about $85,000 today), didn’t catch on. I paid $12,000 for one, and bought another for parts, then began a two-year restoration.  Once done, I drove the Scarab across country twice.  Along the way, I found Bill Stout’s grandson, living in Phoenix . I asked if the car was like what he remembered as a boy. He said it was, down to the finger and nose prints on the windows, from people wanting to see inside. Some thought Stout was a crackpot, at first.  But his ideas were more right than wrong.  I restored my Scarab to see if the car was as good as he said it was.  And it is.

Ever Seen A 1936 Stout Scarab?

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