Times were very different in 1938. Instead of worrying about the basic human rights of rioters and dissenters, governments were more worried about how to control crowds and put a stop to riots at any cost. That is where ideas like this riot car came in: they were meant to “control” the rioters with a variety of methods. This particular vehicle was meant to shoot streams of water, bullets or poison gas – depending on the severity of the situation – all in a bid to end uprisings.
This artist’s rendering was on the cover of the May 1938 issue of Mechanics & Handicraft, showing the riot car in use. According to the brief accompanying text, the vehicle was patented earlier that year by Victorino L. Tunaya of Brooklyn, New York. As far as we know the machine was never actually built, which is a good thing considering a huge hulking vehicle with machine guns that spurts poisonous gas is bound to be used for mischief sooner or later.