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Okay, the 1956 Oldsmobile above is a bit of advertiser's licence to sell a new "hover-matic" suspension system, but I think it's true to say that you can be fairly sure that you've passed over into the FUTURE when your car ceases to have wheels.  Thing is, wheels are bit a necessary item, what with friction and all, so,  unless you happen have an anti-gravity device handy,  some major technological advances were going to have to come about if the hovercar was ever going to become a reality.

By the 1960s the hovercraft came floating along on a cushion of air and we were apparently on the verge of having wheel-less hovercars at last.  Soon, it seemed, we'd be leaving our tired old Fords and Vauxhalls for spanking new models that would glide along without bump or friction.

Arthur C. Clarke imagined that the coming of the hovercar would be a revolution in transportation unheard of since Ogg figured out how to make that rolly thing.   The hovercar wouldn't need metalled roads, just a more or less level surface to skim over.  Motorways would be left to crack and moss over, saving billions in road maintenance without hindering traffic in the least.  In many parts of the world, roads would become totally obsolete and moving passengers and goods over plains and deserts would simply be a matter of pointing your machines in the right direction. 

In fact, the greatest problems that the authorities would face would be the fact a hovercar could go anywhere.  Clarke foresaw a time when landowners would ring their property with barbed wire and strategically placed boulders to keep out trespassing picnickers and when even the most remote cay or atoll of the Great Barrier reef became just another spot for a holiday home.

But the family hovercar is still about as far away as the jet pack and the food pill.  True, we have plenty of hovercrafts that have found all sorts of applications from amphibious assault craft to oil rig tenders to recreational vehicles to lawn mowers.  But hovercars?  Unless you are okay with a machine that gulps fuel standing still and  have very understanding neighbours who are willing to put up with the noise, the air wash, poor brakes, and the nasty tendency of hovercrafts to slide about in a breeze, I think you'd better keep the Honda for a while. 

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