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A Minivan From the 1930s

Nowadays people see the Chrysler corporation as the inventor of the modern-day minivan. It may be true that Chrysler is a lead designer and manufacturer of minivans, however, in the mid-1930s William Stout is believed to have created the very first minivan. Keep reading to learn more about what William Stout contributed to the automotive industry!

Stout Scarab Minivan

About William Stout

William Stout was born March 16th, 1880 in Quincy, Illinois. He attended Mechanic Arts High School in Minnesota, and attended Hamline University but was forced to leave. He married in 1906, and served as Chief Engineer for the Schurmeier Motor Truck Company. Later, Stout was an aviation and automobile editor for the Chicago Tribune. He founded the first aviation magazine in the United States, Aerial Age. As indicated, Stout’s background was in the aeronautics industry. He also built one of the first ever all-metal airplanes.

Why Stout Invented the Scarab

It was in 1935 that William Stout created the Scarab, believed to be the first minivan. He created the vehicle to be a “mobile office,” where a person could be driven to work while they work.

The Scarab’s Features

The Scarab’s envelope body shape looked that of the scarab Egyptian beetle, and that explains how the vehicle got its name. The vehicle had great aerodynamics because of its flush glass, flush mounted door handles and hidden door hinges. The vehicle’s passengers used a single centrally side mounted door. The vehicle’s passenger seats could also be configured around a table in the cabin’s rear.

Stout had a relationship with Ford Motor Company, and because of that his Scarab had a flathead Ford V-8 engine that put out 154 lb-ft of torque and 95 horsepower. The vehicle was mounted over its back wheels and came with a three-speed manual transmission. The Scarab was just over six feet tall and was 195.5 inches in length. The vehicle was able to accelerate from zero to sixty miles per hour within fifteen seconds. It had four-wheel independent suspension. It had rear strut suspension and cast iron drums on all four wheels.

It is believed that Stout built nine of these vehicles through a company he set up called “Stout Motor Car.” These vehicles were all hand-built. Today, the vehicle would have been priced at over $90,000, but in 1930s dollars that was $5,000.

Although Stout passed away in 1956 in Arizona, his invention left an impact on vehicles that later came about, such as today’s very popular minivan. However, it seemed that the Scarab was ahead of its time. Had Stout built it, say, fifty years later, it would have been a ginormous hit. Today you can found a Stout Scarab near Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the car collection at the Gilmore Car Museum. The folks at Fitzgerald Auto Mall Lexington Park, a local Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram car dealer in Lexington Park, MD, would be glad to speak with you more about minivan history while you are there to purchase a vehicle or get one repaired.  We hope that this article has served as a great resource for you!

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Published on: June 24, 2016

Filled Under: Autos Articles

Views: 1328

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