1946 Stout Scarab

The world's first miniavan

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Some quick research reveals that this may not be the very first minivan, but it was THE first minivan, designed by William Bushnell Stout and manufactured by Stout Engineering Laboratories — and later by Stout Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan. The Stout Scarab is credited by some as the world’s first production minivan, and a 1946 experimental prototype of the Scarab became the world’s first car with a fiberglass bodyshell and air suspension.

The Scarab broke the mold with its “Unibody” chassis and body without the traditional long hood. The engine was located longitudinally behind the front axle, and ahead of the passenger compartment.

The Scarab design eliminated the chassis and drive shaft to create a low, flat floor for the interior, and dropping a Ford-built V8 engine in the rear of the vehicle. Stout envisioned his traveling machine as an office on wheels — with what appeared to be aluminium aircraft fuselage. The short, streamlined nose and tapering upper body at the rear, foreshadowed contemporary monospace (or one-box) MPV or minivan design, featuring a removable table and second row seats that turn 180 degrees to face the rear — a feature that Chrysler marketed over 50 years later as “Swivel ’n Go”.

 

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