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IN SEARCH OF THE FASCINATION

My sister forwarded me the link to your page on the Fascination car. I remember the first time I saw the car. We were in a cafe somewhere–maybe Chadron or Crawford, NE-and this car pulled up. As you can imagine, it drew a lot of attention. We went out and talked to the driver, one of the founders. That started the ball rolling where mom and dad ultimately decided to buy a distributorship.

I remember taking trips with dad to check out the manufacturing facilities–old army munitions bunkers in the middle of Nebraska. These were buildings half-buried in the ground, with about three feet of concrete covered by six feet of dirt on all sides. They stayed a constant temperature of 60 degrees or so. They had about three cars built by hand, and were getting molds made for production runs. In retrospect, it was pretty far-fetched to think they could manufacture these things in any kind of volume in relatively small munitions bunkers in Nebraska. But we were caught up in the promise of wealth and the fascination with The Fascination.

I remember sitting in the office of the founder. John Lewis I think was his name. He said he had tried to develop similar cars in the past, but the Big Three automakers kept squashing his efforts. When he was thinking of a name for the car, he originally was going to name it "Vengeance", but then he remembered "Vengeance is mine, said the Lord" and thought he better name it something else.

It was a very cool car. I even rode in it once or twice! Quite a revolutionary design, too. It had air-filled rubber shock absorbers like on today's buses. It had a mid-engine design, behind the back seats, and the engines were going to be from Renault–I think they were Wankel or rotary engines. I don't remember anything about "Nobel Gas-Plasma Engines" that the website mentions. Because it was mid-engine, the front of the car was very light. Supposedly, if it got hit broadside, it would just spin around on the back wheels.

Because it only had three wheels, you could drive it into a ditch and you'd never lose contact with any of the wheels and the road. You could also turn the front wheel almost perpendicular to the car, which meant you could turn nearly in its own radius, and you could parallel park with about 12 inches of total clearance. It got 40 or so mpg. I often think that if its design were coupled with today's hybrid gas/electric engines, it could really be a hit…

I guess it was about 1971-72 when we got involved with the company. My parents bought a distributorship for three states. Needless to say, that money was never seen again. But to this day, it was still the coolest car I've ever been in. The trunk, though, was extremely small–about one suitcase. But the rest of the design was great. I remember the founder taking us on a long stretch of little-used highway in Nebraska. He got it up to about 80 mph, took his hands off the wheel, and then hit the brakes as hard as he could without skidding. The car stopped quickly and in a straight line. One of the benefits of one wheel up front–no need to ever align your car again.

I never did know how it all fell apart–I think it was pretty disappointing for mom and dad, so they didn't talk about it much from then on. Though I remember them both saying if it failed, it would be no worse than a bad hailstorm ruining a crop, and they had plenty of experience with that. But I always wondered if it was just a business that failed, or if it was a con game that worked…

Anyway, I was happy to see the page on your site. If you ever find out anything else about it, I'd be interested in learning more.

Best regards,

Steve McConaughey
steve@mcconaughey.com

 

MR. MUTO TRACKS IT DOWN!

Hi Coury, came upon your article about that weird car, the "Fascination," and noted that you were looking for a replacement for your lost sales brochure. (Do I win the run on sentence award?)

Check these guys out:

http://www.mclellansautomotive.com/sales-lit/bymake/fascination/index.shtml

I've never dealt with them so I can't vouch for their service.

Here's a few more places for auto literature:

http://www.stores.ebay.com/faxonautoliterature

http://www.autolit.com

Here's some info on the free energy motor (not the plasma engine, never could find anything on that): http://www.rexresearch.com/evgray/1gray.htm

Have you ever heard of the Dale three-wheeled car of the mid-'70s? I've been researching the history for a book I'd like to write. It was a scam that was run by a transsexual! You just can't make this stuff up!

Regards,

Anthony Muto
s2dee@lanset.com

P.S. Great site!

 

AND THEN, THE BREAKTHROUGH…

Here's what I've found so far...a mention of the car at this page: http://www.nebraskahistory.org/admin/report/report98.htm

"Tom and Judy Lutzi of Lincoln loaned their unique, Nebraska-built Fascination automobile for the Plains Power: Nebraska-made Vehicles exhibit."

So apparently the Lutzis own the car (this article was circa 1998), or did so till recently. No picture of it, although there should've been one as it said "image" before that quote.

Found another mention at: http://www.nebraskahistory.org/publish/publicat/newsletr/march98.htm

"LEGISLATIVE RECEPTION HELD JANUARY 9

Guests at the annual legislative reception January 9 included contributors to the Plains Power: Nebraska-made Vehicles exhibit now showing at the Museum of Nebraska History.

Tom and Judy Lutzi of Lincoln are the owners of the unique, three-wheeled Fascination automobile built in Sidney in the 1970s."

Don't know what to make of this, but here's another link:

http://www.digiklick.com/fairs/erlebnis_neue_messe/visitor/hall.php3

Scroll down to A4

Anthony Muto

This is a story that just gets more interesting with every new detail. Who was this visionary John Lewis? Whatever happened to the Nobel Gas Plasma engine? How did the Lutzis acquire the car? Who will solve these mysteries? And how can I afford to buy those brochures?
–Ed.

 

LAFFING WITH US

Hi,

Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful site with us! I enjoyed the interview with Bill Luca–an extremely talented and creative individual. I thank him for his inspiring work and creation of Laff in the Dark. Wow!

Thank you, PopCult Magazine! You are one of my favorite sites!

Jennifer Healy
Rye Beach, NH
(e-mail address withheld)

 

WHITHER THE GOOD REVEREND?

Dear Sir,

Please send my name and address to Robert Tilton ministries or send me his e-mail address and website.

Thanks

Osuolale Olubiyo
(e-mail address withheld for his own protection)

I saw your page about the faux-Robert Tilton Jesus Wallet mailing in the mid-'90s from Tulsa. Were you aware that ol' Bobby T. is based out of there now? Or at least he was a couple years ago, as that was the address he uses/used for the revamped version of his show that showed up in the middle of the night on B.E.T. (And perhaps elsewhere?) That would give credence to the idea that it's indeed from Bob… maybe he was testing the waters for his return, which was around '98 or '99 as far as I can tell?

G.
(e-mail address withheld)

That sounds logical. I haven't been able to find any current references to the esteemed televangelist (though here's a good article from The Dallas Observer, circa 1997). Perhaps he's finally given up his errant ways? But I still would like to have more of his marketing materials…
–Ed.

 

GENERIC QUESTION

What ever happened to the white no-frills products supermarkets used to sell?

Diane Austra
(e-mail address withheld)

I just assumed that people kept on buying the all-frills products as the Good Lord intended.
–Ed.

 
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