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5 Cars Made from Absolutely Ridiculous Materials

February 20, 2014

Steel, aluminium, plastic, rubber, leather…these are the things cars are made of, right? Well, not always, as these slightly more imaginative (and kind of insane) designs demonstrate. Let’s take a ride through the minds of some innovative and possibly demented car manufacturers.

 

Super Awesome Micro Project a.k.a. the Lego Car

 

Australian Steve Sammartino and his business partner Raul Oaida borrowed this idea from a Romanian teenager Sammartino spoke to, who wondered whether it would be possible to build a real working car entirely out of Lego. Well, turns out you can – or at least, almost (the wheels are the only part of the car that aren’t Lego).

Crowd-funded by forty different investors, the resulting Super Awesome Micro Project was built in Romania over eighteen months before being shipped to Australia to show to the public. The Lego car, made from over half a million pieces of Lego, runs on four air-powered engines and contains 256 pistons. So is it time to trade in your Ferrari for the Lego equivalent? Well, perhaps not quite yet – as the Super Awesome Micro Project car has a top speed of just 20mph.

 

Splinter the Wooden Supercar

Whenever we talk about the future of motoring, sustainability has to be an issue. So could a car made of wood be the answer? Well, Joe Harmon – an industrial designer from North Carolina – has certainly given it a good go with Splinter, the world’s first wooden supercar.

The two-door coupe’s structure is made from various bent and laminated wood veneers, and the body from woven veneer. One big advantage of this wood construction is Splinter’s superlight weight of only 1,134kg. That’s 240kg lighter than a Porsche 911.

When combined with the power of a twin-supercharged 4.6 litre V8 engine, that superlight weight adds up to a 0 to 60mph sprint time of just over three seconds, and a top speed of 240mph. For those keeping score, that means it’s faster than a Porsche 911 too.

 

Toyota Me.We, the Polypropylene and Bamboo Car

 

Okay, so first things first – the name is awful, obviously. But the idea is actually pretty cool, even if it is just a concept at this stage. Designed to be cheap, environmentally friendly and entirely recyclable, the Me.We could just be a glimpse into the future of car design.

Although we’re calling this ‘the Polypropylene and Bamboo Car’, the spaceframe is actually made from aluminium, but even that is lightweight and, as we should all know, easily recyclable. On to that, Toyota have stuck body panels made of polypropylene, a thermoplastic polymer more normally used in packaging, stationary and modern banknotes. Keeping with the lightweight, sustainable, recyclable ethos, the interior floor and horizontal surfaces are all made from bamboo – which is not only environmentally friendly, but also feels great and looks amazing.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the whole thing is powered by an electric motor and it’s pretty light on features – but for a super lightweight, efficient, environmentally responsible car, this concept is pretty hard to beat.

 

Kestrel a.k.a. the Hemp Car

 

Hemp. Many argue it’s the wonder material that can solve all sorts of problems, from the looming fuel crisis to, well, just about everything else depending on who you talk to. But one thing hemp certainly can be used for is to make a car, as demonstrated by the Kestrel – the “world’s most eco-friendly car” from Canadian company Motive Industries Inc.

Although there are some more traditional construction materials under its skin, the Kestrel’s body is made entirely from hemp. The resulting car weighs around 1,130kg, seats four people and its electric motor gives a top speed of 55miles an hour. Okay, so it’s not exactly going to melt your face off – but with a range of 100 miles on a single charge, it would do perfectly well for nipping about the city.

Besides being environmentally friendly to produce and dispose of, hemp has a number of other advantages. It’s super lightweight – boosting fuel efficiency – strong enough to pass all modern crash tests and, unlike many equivalents, hemp body panels will actually bounce back into shape after an impact due to their greater flexibility.

According to Motive Industries, the Kestrel should be going into full production any time now.

 

WorldFirst ecoF3 the Vegetable Car

Yep, you read that right. Vegetable car. The WorldFirst ecoF3 is a Forumula 3 racing car built by a team from the University of Warwick using vegetables. How can that possibly work? Well, unsurprisingly, the superstructure is made from more traditional materials (rather than, say, broccoli) but the body is made from potatoes, the steering wheel is made from carrots and – perhaps most surprisingly – the whole thing is powered by a fuel made from chocolate.

The ecoF3 isn’t quite as bonkers as that might make it sound. The materials used are created using extracts from vegetables, rather than the whole vegetables themselves. Those extracts are used to create composite materials – similar in concept to carbon fibre – and lubricants. Sadly the chocolate-derived biofuel that powered the ecoF3 precludes it from actually racing (apparently chocolate isn’t an approved power source for Formula 3), but it does show what can be done with sustainable, environmentally-friendly materials. Especially given that the ecoF3 can hit a whooping 145mph.

Or maybe you think that’s just a waste of good chocolate?

 

Crazy world.

About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.