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The Wooden Supercar "Splinter"

Updated on December 11, 2012

Many things are made from wood. Speed boats, sail boats, tennis rackets, hockey sticks, skis, furniture, houses, surfboards, guitars and the list goes on. But, come on….a car? Yes, that's exactly what Joe Harmon, a graduate student in the Industrial Design program at North Carolina State University did. He designed and built a 600 Horse Power wooden supercar, cleverly named the Splinter. However, he had some help from a team of knowledgeable wood working friends.

The auto looks a little like a Lamborghini or Ferrari, except the body is made of beautiful grained woods. Even the cabin wall, front suspension, leaf springs, firewall, side panels, steering wheel, uprights, superstructure, wheel wells and wheels are made from wood. With its V-8 engine by Cadillac delivering a staggering top speed of 240 mph, it’s said it can outrun a Porsche.

The Splinter was fitted with a full roll-cage and equipped with a 6-speed gearbox. The DeHavilland Mosquito, or the Mossy, partly inspired the Splinter. It was WWII’s fastest aircraft, capable of attaining 425 mph and made all of wood.

Work on the unique vehicle began in July, 2006 and was finally unveiled in February, 2008. Of course, weight was a major concern since wooden wheels had to be constructed that could support the 2,500 lb body. That was accomplished by using layers of oak veneer. And since wood is a flammable material the exhaust system had to be moved over the top of the engine.

Maple, birch and plywood were used in building a large portion of the car, but others were used also depending on the application. Tessellated, end-grain balsa was used as a core material on some body panels and Osage orange was used for making the leaf springs. This wood was used by Native Americans for making longbows because of its strength.

According to Harmon the reason for using wood was it has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than aluminum or steel. Now, the builders have only one thing to fear…parking near a termite mound.


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    • Omnivium profile image

      Omnivium 4 years ago

      Woah...a wood car. It actually looks really nice, but imagine what the wooden equivalent of a old, cheap car would look like.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, never would have thought!!! That is so interesting. Yes, may have to be treated to prevent termites. Ha. Very interesting hub. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 4 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Omnivium, I don't know. You might have to see an antique furniture restorer about that one.

      Faith Reaper, If you thought that was interesting you should see the life size motorcycle model someone built entirely out of wood, even the engine that had moving parts. I'll see if I can find my files on that and write a hub.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      That would be cool as well, JY. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Lots of weight there with the hardwood, but what an idea!

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 4 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      yes, indeedy...knock on wood

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