Can a car Made out of Wood Really Out-perform a Porsche?
Joe Harmon is a graduate student in the industrial design program at North Carolina State. He an his crew are responsible for building one of the most unlikely Super cars ever to roll on four wheels. The Splinter.
Can you really build a super car from wood?
According to the FAQ on the web-site for the Splinter,
"Wood is a truly amazing material to work with. It has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than aluminum or steel, and it possesses a versatility that makes many different types of construction techniques possible. The look, feel, and smell of a natural material like wood are not seen elsewhere and cannot be faked, and the satisfaction involved in making something from a piece of wood is awesome."
Can a car made from wood compete with Porsche?
"Speaking in terms of performance, the potential is definitely there. We don’t have the time or the resources to put the Splinter through the same kind of testing and refinement that one would see in an Enzo or a Carrera GT, but we have designed it to have world-class characteristics in all the areas that make a supercar super, like power-to-weight ratio, weight distribution and center of gravity."
Power for the splinter is derived from a modified Cadillac Northstar V-8. Producing over 600 HP, th mid-engine design of the Splinter has a top speed potential of 240 mph (at least according to the computer models). Weighing in at a projected curb weight of 2500lbs it has a power to weight ratio that would best almost all of today's stock Super cars.
The car is being purpose built to explore the possibilities of using wood as a material in creating a car and testing the limits of creativity and learning. Wood is being used wherever possible and that includes the chassis, suspension, wheels, body, etc.
At this point, there are no plans on a production version, but it wouldn't be surprising if some of they innovations developed by Joe and his team garner attention from some of the usual suspects. In the event the car ever does hit the production lines I can almost guarantee there will be no ashtray or cigarette lighter (no matter how much you're willing to pay).
For a complete gallery of pictures you can look here.
[Source: Joe Harmon Design]