Automobile ferries within the skies: The rise and fall of the Aviation Merchants Carvair


(CNN) — If an aviation enthusiast were to compile a roster of the world’s weirdest looking planes, the ATL-98 Carvair would definitely merit a place of honor.

Its bulbous nose, seemingly out of proportion with the rest of its body, give this now-defunct plane a chubby, unmistakable appearance.

And yet the Carvair, which made a brief cameo in the James Bond movie “Goldfinger,” anticipated features that we would later see in iconic aircraft types, such as the Boeing 747.

This odd-looking plane was actually a heavily modified Douglas DC-4 airliner designed to fulfill a very particular mission in the 1950s: flying both cars and their drivers overseas.

To load Carvair planes, vehicles would be elevated to cabin level with a scissors-type lift and loaded through the front door.

To load Carvair planes, vehicles would be elevated to cabin level with a scissors-type lift and loaded through the front door.

Courtesy of Iberia Photo Archive

British car owners wanting to drive their own vehicles around mainland Europe could choose between the slow, and potentially shaky, sea crossing, or simply hop over to the continent…