Back in the year of our Lord Nineteen-Forty-Six (1946) at the “Britain Can Make It Better” exhibition, this Benjamin Bowden-designed bicycle, known simply as the Classic (and later the Spacelander), was presented for the first time as what a bike twenty years in the future would resemble. Bowden’s first streamlined design for the bicycle had included a motor to give riders a little extra power when attempting to pedal uphill. This futuristic-style bike didn’t go into production in the United States until 1960, but the delayed production time of the Spacelander wasn’t the problem.
The only problem was that nobody wanted a Spacelander, as they were both out of style and really expensive at $90, which is roughly $730 adjusted for inflation. Plus, according to the Brooklyn Museum, only about 500 were ever produced. Nowadays, the Spacelander is a big collector’s item, and even though there aren’t many authentic ones existing outside of museums, there are many reproductions that unfortunately many are passed off as authentic by crooked sellers preying on collectors.
In a 1993 interview, Bowden, then 87, reflected on is work, stating that he was:
“just by sitting down in my office and thinking about it, I said to myself I should select a product that had not been made before. I think I’ll look and see if I can’t come up with a different bicycle, an ordinary pedal bicycle has two wheels that are joined by steel tubes. So being a designer in the automobile industry, I decided that I should think of something different, but not too different in its function. You’d still have to pedal around.”