William Bushnell Stout was an American engineer and inventor whose resume includes heading Packard Motor Car's aviation division, designing the Ford Tri-Motor airplane, starting the first scheduled air service in the US, and founding the Scarab Motor Car company. His car firm produced one model from 1934 to 1939, and just nine examples of them: the Stout Scarab.

The Detroit Historical Museum owns a 1935 Scarab but hasn't actually possessed it for 12 years; it was on loan to a museum in Maine all that time. But the DHM finally has it back and the public can get a sneak peek of it this weekend before it goes on permanent display on August 29.

Constantly referred to as the ancestor of the minivan, the Stout was in many ways an airplane without wings. It was handbuilt, and has an aluminum tube frame with an aluminum skin, a fold-down table with flexible seating, flush glass, hidden hinges, and a centrally-placed door for passengers as just a few of its innovations. It was also rather expensive, costing $5,000 at the time, about $90,000 today, which is why only rich people every owned the few that were built and sold. The DHM example was owned by the Wrigley family.

The video below provides a short tour of the Scarab, hop over to the Detroit Free Press to read about the history behind the car and what it means to the pantheon of automobiles.



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