Los Angeles physician Dr. Nathan Ostich built the Flying Caduceus, in 1960. He chose the car’s name from the medical profession’s “caduceus” symbol of staff with entwined snakes and added a pair of wings denoting speed.
He began construction by obtaining a Convair B-36 bomber General Electric J-47 turbojet engine, which became the determining factor in the dimensions of the car. The frame is made of 2-inch square steel tubing. The suspension components were derived from Chevrolet truck parts and comprised A-arms and torsion bars. Firestone machined the special wheels from solid forged aluminum. Firestone tires were of tubeless construction holding 200 pounds pressure.
When it was unveiled early in 1960, Ostich announced a goal of 500 mph and in August, he ran the Flying Caduceus at Bonneville Salt Flats. He encountered a few problems, the worst being a defective fuel pump, a “loose” steering system, and fiberglass air ducts that were too lightweight. Ostich returned to Bonneville in 1962 but directional instability was apparent when the car began to slide sideways.
When the Flying Caduceus tried again in 1963, it reached its best speed of 359.7 mph, but the tachometer showed the engine to be running at only 90 percent of rated rpm.
Featured Image: Caduceus under its awning out on the salt flats, 1960 / Image: via gregwapling.com, photo by Ron Christensen