The world's first production minivan, the art deco-inspired 1936 Stout Scarab, will be on display at this year's Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace. With only nine in existence, the Scarab was the brainchild of journalist and automotive & aviation engineer William Bushnell Stout.
Inspired by 'futurist' author, architect and designer Buckminster Fuller and his tear-drop creation: the Dymaxion, Stout envisaged the Scarab to be a 100-a-year production phenomenon in an age of uninspiring automotive design.
Unfortunately for Stout, the time-consuming coach-work and $5,000 price tag (almost $100,000 today) meant that the idea never gained the traction needed to become a success, and the Scarab dream died after just nine were completed.
This particular Stout Scarab is also at the centre of a war-time legend; it was said to be the scene of a meeting between General Eisenhower and Charles de Gaulle during the Second World War. Throughout the 1950s it was then used by a circus owner, keeping monkeys in the car while they toured the continent. It was then sold on to a French industrial designer who had the vehicle placed in a museum in Reims. The current owners had the vehicle restored in 2001 and have kept it in top condition ever since.
"Our event is an oasis of the rarest Ferraris, Bugattis, Rolls-Royces, Maseratis and more," commented Andrew Evans, Concours of Elegance Director. "But in amongst the sea of motoring legends, visitors often find a truly special outlier - as worthy of its place in the line-up as any other, but without the big-name recognition. This year, the Scarab will undoubtedly be that car; not only is it beautiful, but it's rare and relatively unknown. You can bet once you've seen it at Hampton Court Palace, most visitors will never see another Scarab."
Photo: Courtesy of Concours of Elegance