The 1936 Stout Scarab

Depending on your viewpoint, the 1936 Stout Scarab was either very advanced for it’s time, or else one of the very worst car designs of all time. Some claim it was like the first minivan, while others find few redeeming features for the giant cars that were handmade, with no two identical models. Indeed, they were so overpriced for their time, at around $5000 a copy, which far exceeded the much lower $1345  price of the Chrysler Airflow, that instead of building hundreds of units a year as creator William Bushnell Stout had hoped, only nine actual units were thought to exist of thesestout 1935Scarab_OHTMstout fiberglass bodied cars. It is believed that five of the cars still exist today. Even the former Harrah’s Automobile Museum in Spark’s Nevada owned a rough and unrestored copy, which was likely auctioned off as most of the cars from this once great auto museum were sold as a cost cutting move by this casino some years ago.

The car’s were rear engined  with adequate power from a Ford V8 and had unitized construction to maximize space inside, with moveable seating for every passenger except for the driver, but strangely, only had one passenger door in a strange location on one side of the car, and a driver’s door on the other side. There was some sort of goofy looking insect emblem on the front of the car of all things. For the 1930’s, only the Czech Tatra T97 automobiles were rear engined in these days, giving the Scarab a decidedly European designed look for a Detroit made product.  Even by 1930’s standards, the cars were considered to be hideous creations, although with time, these weird cars have gained a little more respect for their unique styling as vintage art now.

A couple of toy and model makers, Brooklyn Models and Mattel’s Hot Wheels have both produced far more diecast models of these goofy 1930’s cars than were ever produced as real cars. The Stout Scarab was a terrible market failure. It was big and ugly, and very impractical in it’s form. But, it remains a real automotive curiosity in retrospect.

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  • You’re right, they’re very much overpriced. But still, there is a rather interesting look about them – that makes me wish that they were still around. And actually, if you were looking for a short body version the modern Fiats looks rather similar. Stretch one of those out to about a reasonable car length and you’d have a Scarab.

    • Paul Hooson

      It does have a little similarity to the modern Fiat, JL. – I’ve only seen one of these before, a rough one that needed work. It was massive in size and cast a very strange impression as it was tall, long and wide as well as virtually devoid of any doors. It was a strange impression. And the weird insect emblem only added to the overall bad impression for me.