Floating on a cushion of air from two 160-horsepower aircraft engines from Lycoming, Curtiss-Wright claimed the 2500 Air Car could indeed traverse nearly any terrain. Vanes located in the outer shell of the craft directed the air to provide the steering, braking, and forward motion. With a top speed of around 38 miles per hour, it wasn’t exactly fast. However, its payload of 1,000 pounds and two to four passengers was adequate enough for the Army’s consideration.
But after a few months of testing, the Army determined it wasn’t going to cut it for field use. The Air Car could only run for two hours, which, at a max speed of 38 miles per hour gave it a very small operating radius. It also could only really traverse any flat terrain. If the road got too bumpy or the water was choppy, the craft would lose lift and basically be useless. Army officials abandoned the idea.
However, Curtiss-Wright wasn’t quite convinced its dream was dead. In 1956, the company had entered a management agreement with the faltering Studebaker-Packard corporation, giving them some manner of design resources usually reserved for automobiles—which is why the cars looked the way they did. That styling also wasn’t limited to the exteriors. The cars were done-up inside and out.