But can a wooden frame be used in a roadworthy automobile in 2023? This question sounds like the perfect ‘too-many-beers’ type of bet or the display of magnificent surviving skills. Why the latter? Well, the merry folks at Garage 54, in the heart of Siberia, accepted the challenge of making a drivable car from wood. In a forest. Using simple hand tools.
The YouTubing innovators (some might call them ‘mad mechanics’ – emphasis on the adjective) went to a forest and proceeded to assemble an automobile. In full disclosure, several critical components –powertrain, suspensions, brakes, wheels, and seat – come from a standard 20th-century car (most probably a Lada).
A chainsaw and steel wire are the crucial tools required to build a crude frame (the logs haven’t even been debarked) sturdy enough to support the metal. The video is an ‘Emergency Car Building 101’ tutorial demonstrating how Homo Sapiens came to dominate the planet.
The ability to make and use tools to alter the surrounding environment sets us big-brained, upright-walking mammals apart from the rest. Well, that and the incessant quest for more speed and power in a car.
As we can watch (in awe, like the two boys who can’t believe their eyes when gazing upon this marvel of undeniable automotive prowess), the motorized contraption runs and drives. Granted, the accelerator is the straight-through type installed directly on the engine, and the car (can we call it that, for the sake of all that’s piston-holly?) is the brake-pedal delete model.
You’ve never heard of this? Neither did I (except for, maybe, the Flintstones' foot-driven automobile from one million BCE – that’s Before Common Era if you’re wondering). The Russians simply did not install the main brake system. They simply left the handbrake assembly to provide the stopping power. A primitive baton is the brake handle, and another is the gear lever.
As aesthetically unappealing as this auto-mobile is – the Novosibirsk-based wrench-turning band didn’t bother with looks, preferring function over form – it actually works. But don’t try this at home – go to the forest and have a go. Also, it might be a good idea to add some weight over the rear-axle - did I mention this wonderful display of Russian improv skills is RWD? - to get better traction.