Thursday, April 03, 2008

Today's Project: The Flaming Deathmobile

Recently I was perusing a set of encyclopedias put together by Popular Mechanics back in the mid 50's. Judging by the illustrations, the articles are nothing but reprints of stuff from Popular Mechanics magazine that probably go back to the 30's at least. It's fascinating stuff, but quite a lot of it looks rather unsafe. Case in point: the iceboat, or as I like to call it: The Flaming Deathmobile. Or maybe The Widow-Maker. Or how about The Assisted Suicide Machine?

Whatever you want to call it, I can't imagine someone actually building this contraption, taking it to a frozen lake, getting in it (with a passenger, no less), racing across said frozen lake, and then escaping with their lives more or less intact. I just can't see it.

It's almost like the editors of Popular Mechanics were looking for a surefire way of reducing their readership. Imagine the following scene in a 1930's office:

"Damn, it's costing a fortune to publish this magazine these days. When we weren't that popular it was a lot easier and cheaper. How can we get rid of a lot of readers?"

"Maybe we can kill'em off."

"Yeah, right."

"No, seriously. We can come up with some kind of project that's sure to end in horrible mass death."

"Like a big bomb disguised as a lawn ornament!"

"Or a wall sconce that shoots poison darts."

"Oh! I got it! We'll print up an article about an iceboat, but it'll have an engine and a frickin' airplane propeller on the back of it. It'll go a hundred miles an hour, but you can't steer it without it flipping over. Imagine it slamming right into a tree or a house. Or going through a hole in the ice. Hell, maybe it'll even explode as soon as they crank it up. Jesus."

"Now, that's a good project!"

"And how!"

OK, I'm sure that didn't happen, but can you actually picture people riding in this thing and living? Whatever, but if you're interested in building this plywood death-trap, I've scanned the entire article. Just click on the three images below.

Oh, I should probably mention that if you do build this and it explodes and kills your whole family, or if you go deaf from having that engine right behind your head, don't sue me. Moron.

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