Texaco Doodlebug Tanker Truck

Diamond T Texaco Doodlebug tanker truck

The Texaco Doodlebug was a peculiar-looking Diamond T tanker truck designed and built in the 1930s. It was an experiment in streamlining – a design style that was proving popular at the time. The Texaco Doodlebug was designed by Norman Bel Geddes, and the specially fabricated bodies were constructed by Heil Co in Alabama. It was based on a Diamond T truck chassis.

The Texaco Doodlebug featured a rear-mounted six-cylinder engine. The drivetrain position meant the cab was more spacious and could be located lower down than in a conventional truck. Interestingly, because the engine was at the opposite end of the vehicle and the driver couldn’t hear it, the Doodlebug had a small microphone in the engine bay connected to a speaker in the cab which allowed the driver listen out for when to make a gear change!

The Texaco Doodlebug came about after the company hired the Bel Geddes design firm to refresh their entire brand and give it a more contemporary style. Updates included changes to the Texaco logo, gas station architecture and even the attendants uniforms. Continue reading ‘Texaco Doodlebug Tanker Truck’ »

“Cowasaki” motorcycle made entirely from animal bones

Cowasaki bone motorcycle

Reese Moore, who unsurprisingly lives in Florida, spends his free time crafting motorcycles – like this “Cowasaki” – entirely from animal bones.  He finds many of his macabre building blocks from animals he finds dead by the roadside. But unlike normal people who just drive on, he scoops them up and takes them to his workshop. Some of the other bones are gathered with the help of local hunters and farmers.

The bones used in his creations include cow skulls, alligator skulls, various goat, wolf, racoon, and pig bones, and cow vertebrae. After collecting together the necessary pieces, Moore sands them down to get a clean, uniform color and appearance before assembling his creations.
Continue reading ‘“Cowasaki” motorcycle made entirely from animal bones’ »

Verrado Electric Drift Trike

Verrado Electric Drift Trike

The Verrado Electric Drift Trike is an fun-looking little contraption developed by Local Motors and funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign. It features BMX-inspired styling and a custom fabricated chassis with a trike layout. The front wheel is straight from a BMX bike, as are the forks. The rear wheels are 5-inch karting wheels wrapped in 10-inch tires, which are then encased in thick PVC wheels sleeves allowing the trike to drift easily.

Powering the Verrado Electric Drift Trike is a rear-mounted electric motor which drives the two back wheels. The battery pack takes 3 hours to charge, and then provides around 45 minutes of play time. Although the run time is actually pretty varied and depends on the amount of high-power drifting the rider wants to do.
Continue reading ‘Verrado Electric Drift Trike’ »

Saunalutta – DIY Sauna Raft from Finland

Saunalautta sauna raft

The Scandinavians love their saunas. It’s part of their culture. But unless you happen to have oodles of money and a large luxury yacht, its hard to combine saunas and boating. Unless you go the budget route like these enterprising Fins did and knock up your own floating sauna raft, or Saunalutta as it’s known in Finnish.

Created by a group of friends in Joensuu, Finland, the Saunalutta sauna raft basically consists of a shed sandwiched between two decks. The shed contains a small changing area/storage room and a decent sized sauna. The lower deck of the sauna raft features a rear swim platform and also provides a mounting point for the small outboard motor used for propulsion.
Continue reading ‘Saunalutta – DIY Sauna Raft from Finland’ »

1951 “Italcorsa / Tarf II” Land Speed Record Car

1951 Italcorsa Tarf II land speed record car

The pursuit of pure speed has resulted in a number of oddly shaped cars. But perhaps none more so than the 1951 land speed record car designed, built and driven by Piero Taruffi. The car goes by several names, including the Italcorsa and Tarf II – it also got the fitting nickname “Bisiluro” (twin torpedo in Italian).

Piero Taruffi was an Italian racing driver and engineer. His passion for fast machines began with motorcycles, but he soon moved on to cars, and his considerable talent allowed him to pilot some of the fastest machines of the era from numerous manufacturers including; Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, Cisitalia, Ferrari, Maserati and Mercedes-Benz. During his racing career he notched up several victories – including the last ever Mille Miglia. He also broke several dozen speed records.

The Tarf II was based on an earlier design called the Tarf I. Both cars featured the same twin boom design, but the Tarf II was fitted with a larger 1,720 cc Maserati four-cylinder engine which developed 290 horsepower thanks to the addition of a supercharger. A chain transferred power to the rear wheel.
Continue reading ‘1951 “Italcorsa / Tarf II” Land Speed Record Car’ »

Honda Mean Mower – The World’s Fastest Lawn Mower

Honda Mean Mower the World's Fastest Lawn Mower

Honda have just taken the Guinness World Record for the World’s Fastest Lawn Mower. The Honda Mean Mower set the record last month when they managed to average 116.57 mph, nearly 30 mph faster than the previous record. Don’t feel bad for the previous record holder though. The driver, Piers Ward of BBC TopGear Magazine, was the same guy.

The Honda Mean Mower isn’t just your regular off-the-shelf mower. That would be insane. It’s based on a Honda HF2620 Lawn Tractor, but just about everything has been re-engineered – including the all-new chassis. The drivetrain of the World’s Fastest Lawn Mower features a 1,000cc engine from a Honda VTR Firestorm mated to a custom engineered six-speed transmission. The wheels come from an ATV and are fitted with super-soft tires. Other highlights include a high-performance Scorpion exhaust, a custom-made Cobra racing seat and a steering rack from a Morris Minor.
Continue reading ‘Honda Mean Mower – The World’s Fastest Lawn Mower’ »

Spherical Drive System motorcycle

Spherical Drive System SDS motorcycle

What do you get if you cross the Audi RSQ concept car from I, robot with a Segway and a motorcycle? You get this, the Spherical Drive System prototype motorcycle which was developed by a team of 14 students at San Jose State University.

Clearly the most unusual aspect of the prototype are the large spherical wheels. These are computer controlled to maintain balance, just like the wheels on a Segway – except with another axis to consider. Having spherical wheels allows the bike to move in any direction instantaneously. It also means the bike has to carry onboard a rather clever computer to make sure the thing stays upright.

The Spherical Drive System (SDS) motorcycle is self-balancing, and even when stationary will keep both the bike and rider shiny side up. Unlike the Segway however, the Spherical Drive System motorcycle doesn’t rely on a mechanical gyro. Instead it uses  data from MEMS gyroscopic sensor technology and an onboard accelerometer to electronically control balance.
Continue reading ‘Spherical Drive System motorcycle’ »

Herzog Conte Schwimmwagen amphibious SUV

Herzog Conte Schwimmwagen

The Herzog Conte Schwimmwagen was a spectacularly ugly attempt to create an amphibious SUV. Built by the German manufacturer  Herzog in 1979, the Conte Schwimmwagen (literally “floating car”) was based on a Mk1 Ford Granada. There were two engine choices for the Conte Schwimmwagen, a 2.3 litre 6-cylinder with 114 horsepower, or a larger 2.8 litre 6-cylinder which provided 135 horsepower.

Despite the clearly terrible aerodynamics and 5,100 lb (2,340 kg) bulk, the Herzog Conte Schwimmwagen was capable of 100 mph on land. Its speed on the water is unknown.

The engine powered the wheels when on land (obviously), but once in the water the drive was transferred to a propellor at the rear of the Schwimmwagen. To make sure the engine didn’t drown, the air intakes were positioned higher up than on a normal vehicle. Vents were built into the front wings to allow cooling air in. The exhaust was also mounted higher than normal, and exited through the rear, alongside the spare tire.
Continue reading ‘Herzog Conte Schwimmwagen amphibious SUV’ »

Rungu Juggernaut fat-tire trike

Rungu Juggernaut trike

The Rungu Juggernaut is an all-terrain fat-tire trike designed to be used on soft surfaces like snow and sand. The bike features two wheels up front and a fat-section rear tire for better traction and control. According to Rungu, the Juggernauts three-wheel layout and long wheelbase design improves rideability on sand and snow by 50-percent. Although quite how you quantitatively measure that is beyond me.

The Rungu Juggernaut is built around an aluminium frame and features low gearing suited to difficult terrain. The shoulder-width apart front wheels each feature their own disc brake for improved stopping distances. While the 26-inch rear wheel gets a hydraulic disc brake for dependable braking regardless of the weather or temperature.
Continue reading ‘Rungu Juggernaut fat-tire trike’ »

Necker Nymph – three-person underwater flying machine

Necker Nymph submersible

The Necker Nymph is a three-person, open-cockpit submersible owned by the British billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. The Necker Nymph is kept at his private island resort, Necker Island, in the Caribbean Sea. The Necker Nymph can be launched from shore using a specially designed trailer, or it can be launched and retrieved at sea by the Necker Belle, a 105-foot luxury catamaran which is also based at Necker Island.

The Necker Nymph submersible was built in 2010 by Hawkes Ocean Technologies at a cost of $690,000 (£415,000). It relies on the same underwater diving principle as the DeepFlight Merlin class of submersibles, meaning it is positively buoyant, and to remain underwater it must keep moving forward. Unlike conventional subs which use ballast to sink in the water, the Necker Nymph uses downward ‘lift’ on the wings to fly down to depth. In the event of a power failure the sub would simply float to the surface.
Continue reading ‘Necker Nymph – three-person underwater flying machine’ »