Schlörwagen: The Bizarre German Car from 1939 that Was Super-Aerodynamic but Very Impractical
The 1930s was a defining decade for automotive design, during which time the car evolved from its horse-drawn ancestry into an integrally engineered, aerodynamic, desirable product to meet the demands of the public. This was true nowhere more than in Germany, where the first autobahns were being opened.
The Schlörwagen (nicknamed “Göttinger Egg” or “Pillbug”) was a prototype aerodynamic rear-engine passenger vehicle developed by Karl Schlör (1911–1997) and presented to the public at the 1939 Berlin Auto Show. Only one prototype was built.
The Schlörwagen was built on a modified chassis of the Mercedes 170 H. Inspired by the shape of airplane wings, Karl Schlör redesigned the exterior, setting the windows flush with the shell for cleaner airflow and extending the body over the front wheels. Basically, Schlörwagen was a wing on wheels.
The wheelbase was 2.60 meters, the vehicle was 4.33 meters long and 1.48 meters high. The width of 2.10 meters was needed to run the wheels inside the body. According to Karl Schlör, the vehicle could reach a speed of 146 km/h.
In 1942, the prototype was fitted with a captured Soviet airplane engine, and driven around a test track. The prototype appears to have been stored until August 1948 on the site of the German Aerospace Center in Göttingen, where the seats and wheels were removed during the war.
The British Military Administration eventually towed it away somewhere, and it hasn’t been seen since. Most likely the severely damaged car was scrapped.