Recumbent motorcycles aren’t anything new. But they are still a pretty rare sight on the world’s roads. The Suprine Exodus from the American manufacturer Suprine Machinery, Inc. probably isn’t going to change that fact. But it will offer riders another option if they’re looking for something a little different.
The Suprine Exodus is built around a 1,200 cc BMW transverse flat 4-cylinder engine. The frame is formed from steel, with aluminium, magnesium and titanium components. And while you may think it looks like it’s unfinished and in need of some bodywork, Suprine like it that way, leaving all the mechanical components and detailed engineering on display.
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It’s not often bicycles make their way onto this website. But in extreme cases I’m prepared to make exceptions. Like the Monsterbike, this contraption – suitably called Stoopid Tall – is one man’s bizarre idea of what a bicycle should be.
Stoopid Tall is the work of Richie Trimble, who brought his 14.5 foot (4.4 metre) death trap along to the Ciclavia event in downtown Los Angeles last weekend.
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The Hughes XH-17 “Flying Crane” was a prototype heavy-lift helicopter developed during the 1950s. The design wasn’t actually an original Hughes project. Initially the project was developed by Kellett Aircraft Corporation to fulfill a 1946 US Army requirement for an extremely large helicopter capable of lifting up to 10,000 lbs (4,536 kgs), at a speed of 64 mph (105 km/h), over a range of 100 miles (160 km). However Kellett ran into financial difficulties during the preliminary development of the aircraft, and in 1948 they sold the rights and partially completed prototype to Hughes. Several members of the original design team were hired by Hughes to help make sure the project stayed on track.
The test rig was completed in 1949, and in order to speed up construction numerous elements had been poached from existing aircraft. The two-seat cockpit came from a Waco CG-15, the undercarriage was made up from North American B-25 and Douglas C-54 parts, and the fuel tank came from a Boeing B-29 bomb bay tank. The XH-17 employed an unusual gas-turbine and rotor-tip combustion combination to provide power to spin the gigantic rotors. Two General Electric gas generators – modified J35 turbojets – sent compressed air to the rotor tips where fuel was added and then burned to provide the equivalent of 3,480 horsepower.
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It might come as some surprise that Chrysler briefly flirted with the world of prototype military aircraft. But in 1959 they did just that. The Chrysler VZ-6 “Flying Jeep” was a proposal for a light aerial utility vehicle which it was hoped could perform some of the functions of the trusty Jeep, while at the same time having the advantage of being able to fly over obstacles or difficult terrain.
The project was initated in 1956 when the US Army put out a brief calling for such a vehicle. Out of the many design proposals the army recieved, three were accepted for further development, the Chrysler VZ-6 being one of them. Two prototypes of the VZ-6 were ordered for testing in 1958.
The Chrysler VZ-6 featured two downward-facing propellers, one in front of, and one behind the pilot. The Pilot was offset to the left of the aircraft and next to him was the single 500-horsepower engine. Rubber skirts around the outside of the vehicle’s bottom edge helped increase the propeller-generated lift. Forward propulsion resulted from lowering the VZ-6′s nose and using duct-mounted vanes to deflect some of the airflow to the rear. The VZ-6 was never meant to fly at the sort of altitudes of conventional aircraft, in fact its cruising altitude was somewhere between 1.5 and 4 metres (5 – 13 feet).
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The first time I ever saw a photo of the North American F-82 Twin Mustang I was adamant it was a photoshop. It’s not. In fact it’s not even a one off. They built 270 of these things, and interestingly the first three North Korean aircraft shot down during the Korean war were victims of these unusual aircraft.
Based on the iconic P-51 Mustang, which rose to fame as one of the USAAF’s most successful fighters of WWII, the F-82 Twin Mustang more or less lived up to its name. It was essentially two P-51′s fused together at the wing and the horizontal stabilizer. It was initially intended to be a very long-range (VLR) escort fighter to accompany Boeing B-29 Superfortresses on their missions over Japan. However the first F-82′s were only ready for service after WW2 had come to an end.
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Most military aircraft have a sleek, menacing, and purposeful appearance. Usually, despite their lethal nature, they “look good”. Not so the Curtiss-Wright VZ-7. It looks more like somone’s first attempt at metal work, and it most certainly doesn’t look capable of flight. But it could fly, and it did fly.
The Curtiss-Wright VZ-7 was a VTOL aircraft designed to act as a “flying jeep”. Two prototypes were constructed and delivered to the US Army in 1958.
It was a rather rickety affair. It consisted of a central fuselage which housed the 430 horsepower Turbomeca Artouste IIB turboshaft engine. At the front was a single seat for the pilot. Four propellers, two either side of the fuselage provided lift and thrust for the aircraft. Originally the propellers each had their own small shroud, but these were later removed.
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The Quadrofoil is the perfect example of intelligent engineering. It was created by three Slovenian designers who decided to take an entirely fresh approach to recreational watercraft design. Amazingly, despite the Quadrofoil’s complexity, the team managed to develop a prototype in only six months. The vessel made its debut at Slovenia’s Internautica exhibition last week.
Reaction to the prototype has been so positive that a production run of 100 for this year has already begun. Its ambitious creators hope to be manufacturing more than 10,000 per year from 2013. The fact the Quadrofoil is on offer for EUR 15,000 ($19,100) makes that goal seem plausible, as there’s nothing else quite like it and most brand-new recreational watercraft come with a comparable price tag.
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There have been many, many weird prototype vehicles developed over the years, but usually you can see some logic in the madness. However with the 1967 OSI Silver Fox there is absolutely nothing logical. Why split the car into two separate ‘hulls’, drastically reducing your packaging options, and completely obliterating chassis rigidity? Who knows. Amazingly, the car was built with a view to competition and record breaking attempts, not just to blow minds and raise eyebrows.
The project began when OSI (Officina Stampaggio Industriale SpA), an Italian car manufacturer founded in 1960, decided in 1967 to build something a little bit different for that year’s Turin Motor Show. The Silver Fox featured a 1.0 litre Renault Alpine four-cylinder engine which was mounted in the left-hand side of the vehicle, just behind the passenger seat. Despite the poky little engine, the Silver Fox was capable of reaching 155mph.
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The Citroen Taranis is a two-seat off-road racer concept which was developed by Pete Norris. Power comes from four electric motors, one housed within each wheel hub. This layout is similar to one of Norris’s previous concepts, the Honda Chopper. By placing the heavy motors within the wheels, instead of the raised body, the center of gravity is moved lower down – which would improve stability and handling.
When I first saw the name ‘Taranis’ I thought it must have something to do with the fact the raised stance of the vehicles and the long ‘legs’ make it look a little like a mechanised tarantula. But according to Norris that’s not the case. The name is actually taken from the Celtic god of thunder, or as he’s sometimes referred to, the Wheel-God. Apparently he was often depicted with a thunderbolt in one hand and a wheel in the other. The perfect deity for electric cars don’t you think?
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