Nissan engineers create a LEAF-based Pickup Truck

Nissan LEAF pickup truck

A team of engineers at the Nissan Technical Center in Stanfield, Arizona have just put the finishing touches to a one-of-a-kind LEAF-based pickup truck. The vehicle was created as part of a team-building exercise, but it will also act as a little workhorse at the facility, and help haul people and supplies around the tech center and proving ground – which covers an expansive 3,050 acres.

The project took several months to complete and features elements from both the Nissan Frontier and the Nissan Titan pickups, as well as the LEAF on which it is based. Nicknamed Sparky, the truck retains the LEAF’s electric drivetrain, chassis, and front half of the passenger compartment, but where the rear seats and trunk would normally be, a Nissan Frontier bed has been added. The engineers had to modify the bed (obviously) taking a little off the length, width and height. The rear of the passenger cabin, including the electric rear window, came from a Titan which was set to go into the crusher.
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New Batmobile unveiled – Department of Transport may have issues

new 2016 Batmobile from Batman v Superman

The first official picture of the new Batmobile which shows the car in all its glory has just been released. The car will undoubtedly be one of the stars of the upcoming flick Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is currently being filmed in Detroit. However if Batman ever tries to get the thing approved for road use he may have to have a word with the always helpful folks at the US Department of Transport.

Of primary concern to the DOT officials will probably be the dual machine guns up front which appear to be mounted on a revolving turret equipped with video targeting. However the lack of any pedestrian safety features may lead to issues if Batman were ever inclined to put the machine into mass production, as would the woefully inadequate headlights, lack of windscreen wipers and poor side (and non-existent) rear visibility. There also may or may not be rocket launchers mounted sticking out of the hood.
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Kormaran 6-mode convertible speedboat concept

Kormaran concept speedboat

The Kormaran is a speedboat concept with more than one trick up its sleeve. Not content with making something that looks like it belongs on the set of the latest Transformers movie, the creators of the Kormaran have also designed a vessel which can morph itself into a number of different configurations at the touch of a button.

Designed in Germany the Kormaran has been in development since 2007.  The second more advanced prototype is scheduled to be built soon based on a proof of concept prototype constructed in 2012. The company have partnered with a number of specialist companies to build the vessel.
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Helicat 22 – a boat that looks like a helicopter

Helicat 22 boat that looks like a helicopter

If you like the idea of owning a helicopter, but are afraid of heights and happen to live near a lake or the sea, then this really should be on your shopping list. The Helicat 22 is a catamaran which has been styled to look like a helicopter. Don’t ask why, there doesn’t seem to be any particular reason. The Helicat 22 has been desiged with speed and stability in mind. It’s particularly good on rough waters with the widely spaced twin hulls providing a stable platform with minimal drag when zooming along at speed.

Aside from its unique appearance, the Helicat 22 also offers a good degree of practicality. Obvioulsy the cabin is fairly compact, limiting the number of people who can be carried at any one time, but it can cope with waves which would have boats of comparable size scooting for the nearest safe harbor. It has an impressive top speed of 43 mph when fitted with the optional 90 horsepower motors. It also has a range of over 100 miles with the standard twin 45 litre (12 gallon) fuel tanks.
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Dodge Challenger A/T Untamed Concept

Dodge Challenger A/T Untamed

First of all, for anyone – and that more or less means everyone – reading this hoping to hear about a planned production date, pricing and availability of the Dodge Challenger A/T Untamed concept, this is a digital rendering of a currently non-existent vehicle.

But there is a glimmer of hope, Joey Ruiter, the man who designed the concept is a fairly prolific automotive fabricator.  Having scratch-built a wide assortment of vehicles, ranging from electric-powered off-road buggys and motorcycles, to boats and personal water craft. So if anyone can make it a reality, he can. In fact he’s begun work on a kit which could transform stock Challengers into formidable all-terrain beasts.
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MVP model 3 Aircraft / Camper combo

MVP model 3 aircraft

Combining a light aircraft and a RV camper is probably something not many people have considered before. But the folks at MVP AERO have not only considered it, they’re also in the process of building it.

The MVP model 3 aircraft / camper combo consists of a single engined light aircraft, which can be reconfigured on the ground to provide  a place to sleep, fish, explore inaccessible waterways or just relax and enjoy some peace and quiet. In designing the MVP model 3 the company had to start with a fresh sheet of paper, as there aren’t really any comparative aircraft on the market. One of the main obstacles of the design were the contradicting requirements of a lightweight aircraft, and a vehicle which could carry all the essentials for a weekend’s camping trip.

The MVP model 3 features a pusher-prop configuration with the engine mounted behind the cockpit. The fuselage / hull of the aircraft has a small walkway all around allowing the pilot to easily perform pre-flight checks of the engine and control surfaces, while also allowing access to the rear of the aircraft to string up a custom-designed hammock between the tail and the engine pylon.
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Tri-Magnum reverse-trike

Tri-Magnum three-wheeler kit car

Reverse trikes aren’t new, but recently introduced models, like the Polaris Slingshot, have brought them back into the limelight. The Tri-Magnum from R.Q. Riley Enterprises in Phoenix, Arizona is one of the old breed. It’s been around in kit form since the early 1980s, and the plans are still available for the bargain price of just $95. That’s 200 times cheaper than the cheapest Slingshot.

Of course you’ll need to provide your own donor motorcycle, source some bits from a VW Beetle, fabricate a steel chassis and build the composite fiberglass bodywork yourself. But at the end of the day you’ll have something quite unusual.

The Tri-Magnum three-wheeler is based around a custom fabricated steel frame, the front suspension and steering comes from a VW Beetle, while the drivetrain comes courtesy of a motorcycle. Several different drivetrains have been used in the past. The original prototype was built using a Kawasaki KZ900 engine and transmission, however the company recommends the engine and transmission from the Honda Gold Wing – especially models fitted with the electric reverse option.
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Strange Aircraft: PZL Mielec M-15 Belphegor

PZL Mielec M-15 Belphegor

The PZL Milec M-15 was a strange agricultural aircraft developed in the USSR. The aircraft was designed and built in Poland for Soviet agricultural use. Mainly crop spraying and dusting over the vast expansive farms of the USSR.

The aircraft was designed in the early 1970s as a replacement for the Antonov An-2 – a large single-engine biplane which first took to the air in 1947. The M-15 brief called for a modern and efficient aircraft which must be jet-powered. The two chief designers of the aircraft at PZL were Kazimierz Gocyła and Riamir Izmailov.

They came up with a biplane configuration for the M-15, and in doing so inadvertently designed the only jet-powered biplane ever built. In 1972 the first prototype took to the skies. It was built using many components from the AN-2, including the forward section and the wings. It was powered by a single Ivchenko-Progress AI-25 turbofan engine mounted above the fuselage.
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1923 Persu Streamliner

1923 Persu Streamliner

In the early part of the 20th Century, automotive designers were just starting to understand the benefits of aerodynamic bodywork, although at the time it was called ‘streamlining’. Streamlining was still a pretty new idea, most manufacturers still made their cars in the shape of  a box, with a vertical front grille and windshield and quite literally no attempt was made to manage or control the flow of air around the vehicle.

Aurel Persu was one of the first men to understand the importance of aerodynamics. Born in Romania in 1890, he was a graduate of the Royal Technical College of Charlottenburg in Berlin. Persu was inspired by the simple raindrop, and wanted to create a vehicle which had a similarly low drag coefficient. His masterpiece was the Persu Streamliner, a teardrop shaped vehicle with aerodynamic bodywork and wheels which were set within the body – as opposed to sticking out, like on most other vehicles of the time.
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AeroGallo – a real flying cock

Aerogallo rooster airplane from Italy

The AeroGallo is a one-of-a-kind, two-person light aircraft which was built in Italy. Translated from Italian, its name means quite literally ‘Flying Cock’. It was designed and built by self-taught aircraft builder Ottone Baggio in his workshop shed. The inspiration for the aircraft had come from many years before when Ottone visited a farm machinery fair and saw a simple hang glider there called the Rogallo – from there he formed the idea into the AeroGallo.

The amazing paintwork of the AeroGallo, which is almost as impressive as the aircraft itself, done by Ottone’s friend Giuliano Basso. He was inspired by the 20th century artist Antonio Ligabue, and in particular his painting entitled “Lotta dei galli” (The Cock Fight). Ligabue’s works used strong bold colors with thick defining lines. Giuliano spent weeks playing with different colors and techniques to get the right ‘look’ for the aircraft. One of his biggest problems was getting the texture of the feathers to match, as he had to paint the aircraft while it was still in pieces.

Once the aircraft was finally finished and painted, it was taken to Cassola airfield for taxing tests and high-speed ground runs. Unfortunately things didn’t go very well. Test pilots reported that the unusual engine position meant the center of gravity was hard to find, and it felt unbalanced. In addition, during a high-speed taxi run, a misaligned tailwheel caused the aircraft to suddenly turn 180 degrees causing it to tip up and dig one of its wings into the earth damaging the tip.
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