In this dream, I am driving the SkyRunner along a deserted beach on one of the tiny, pristine Out Islands of the Bahamas. Each time I reach land’s end, I stop the car, unfurl its expansive parafoil, kick in the propeller drive and fly to the next island. It’s a very nice dream indeed, and not nearly as far-fetched as it seems.
This may be recalled as the year of the flying car. The US-made Terrafugia and Slovakia-built Aeromobil made their maiden flights, realising a futuristic ambition that is almost as old as the car itself. But while the Terrafugia and the Aeromobil, with their large folding wings, seem very much like airplanes that happen to drive, the dune buggy-like SkyRunner, brainchild of Britain’s Parajet International, is very much the car that happens to fly.
The 926lb single-seater makes use of Ford’s 124-horsepower 1-litre EcoBoost engine, enabling it to scoot from zero to 62mph in a brisk 4.3 seconds, and press on to 115mph. Like all powered paragliders, the SkyRunner requires very little space for takeoffs and landings. And it is supremely safe: Should the engine konk out, the vehicle will simply glide to terra firma like, well, a car with a parachute. And should its parafoil fail, the driver need only pull a backup chute. And perhaps best of all, the SkyRunner can be had for a mere $119,000 fully loaded, less than half the cost of a single-engine Cessna. Talk about a dream come true.
A snub-nosed rebuke to streamlining, the Daihatsu FC Deco Deck Concept looks as if it would sooner dispense staples or soft-serve ice cream than see a highway. And it’s all the more charming for it. – Jonathan Schultz