In 1940, as he watched a bulldozer trudge through Central Park, Elie Aghnides, the wealthy inventor of the faucet water aerator, had an idea: he would combine the stability of a bulldozer with the speed of a car, and create an efficient, all-terrain vehicle.
Fourteen years later, he tested out a prototype of the Rhino, so named “for its massive bulk and its penchant for mud.” The odd-looking vehicle weighed five tons and could travel with ease through deep sand, mud, and water. On the road, it reached up to 45 miles per hour, but in water, it couldn’t surpass speeds of 5 miles per hour.
The Rhino’s enormous front wheels were made of aluminum and weighed one-and-a-half tons each. Their hemispherical design kept the vehicle extremely stable—apparently, it could tip to 75 degrees without toppling over. The wheels were also hollow, which allowed the Rhino to float; meanwhile, a hydrojet propelled it forward along the river.
Aghnides built and tested his prototype in Indianapolis in 1954. He hoped to sell it to the U.S. military as a replacement for the tank. But they never built it—likely, according to Mashable, “out of concern that the wheels could be punctured by gunfire, sinking the vehicle.”
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