“The M400 is a flying car that promises to let you take off from your backyard and fly to your destination at 350 mph, ignoring, if not gazing condescendingly upon, land-bound commuters stuck in traffic below,” reads the March 2000 Popular Science cover story on the Moller M400 Skycar. And, really, that sums up the undying, albeit foolish, desire to build a flying car. It’s not that we want to hit 88 mph and travel into the future to grab a copy of Grays Sports Almanac (although that would be awesome). We just want, for once in our lives, to beat traffic by soaring from point A to point B in style.
Perhaps that’s why Paul Moller won’t give up on his 50-year, $150 million quest to make his vision for a flying car a reality. Now, as he has in the past, he is auctioning off one of his unique aircraft. Last week, Moller International listed the M400 prototype on eBay, and anyone looking to own this red machine that looks like something out of The Fifth Element could have taken a shot at the starting bid of $1 million. Or, the more impatient bidder could have used the Buy It Now option to lock the Skycar up for a cool $5 million.
Alas, the listing attracted no bidders. On Thursday, the M400 was relisted, this time with an opening bid of $250,000, and while it still presumably has the same reserve price, maybe this will do the trick. After all, it’s hard to ignore the allure of this listing:
This is the original Moller M400 Skycar®. It is the world’s first true VTOL (vertical-takeoff-and-landing) “Flying Car” to be demonstrated.
The M400 Skycar® is a true museum piece, developed over many years and first flown in 2001 at the company’s shareholder meeting. It has since flown (under a restricted environment) many times. This vehicle was featured on the covers of Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and the topic of countless news articles and broadcasts including 60 Minutes, ABC, Bloomberg, CNN, and Discovery Channel. The M400 Skycar® is very prevalent on Google and You Tube.
In other words, it’s a fantastic conversation piece. There is, however, a very crucial catch.
A collector who buys the M400 will receive it in its original 2001 flight form and condition, complete with eight Rotapower engines that produced over 720 hp allowing the M400 Skycar® to take off and land vertically. It should be noted, however, in this original form, it does not have FAA approval and a condition of this offer is that it cannot be flown. Nonetheless, this vehicle can be the centerpiece of any car or aircraft collection in a public or private museum. Reassembling the M400 back to its original state will take some time.
The other option is purchasing the vehicle and working with Moller to “make it the world’s first FAA approved VTOL capable ‘flying car.’” But at this point wouldn't you just rather hold out for the equally expensive AeroMobil Flying Car? At least that one might actually fly without a crane.