Wood as a material has served humanity well for several millennia; its durability and versatility have proved invaluable in the construction of buildings and structures allowing societies to thrive and develop. Nowadays wooden buildings aren’t as common, you’re more likely to find wooden furniture or at the most structure-wise a garden shed, but suppose someone asked you to name a wooden vehicle, what would you say?
You’d be given credit for maybe suggesting a wooden tall-ship or rowboat; you’d be given even more points for saying a soapbox or downhill racing car – which invariably are still technically metal frames with wooden panelling. You can applaud yourself for either suggestion, although it may surprise you that out there in this bonkers world of ours, there are in fact cars that are made entirely out of wood, more precisely in Japan.
Not Completely Ridiculous
The idea of cars having elements of wood within them is not completely unheard of, after all some of the dashboards, panelling and interior of classic and luxury cars from established companies like Jaguar, Rolls Royce and Aston Martin have been known to use Mahogany and Walnut within their vehicles. It is actually a big selling point for some cars and can be incredibly sought after, reliable retailers like AA Cars can provide a range of vehicles like this should you be interested.
The car manufacturer Morgan have also taken the concept of using wood in cars a step further than just trim and interiors; based in Malvern, Worcestershire, they are essentially the last remnants of a dying breed of British car makers that still operate within the country.
While their cars are still stunning and charmingly British, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re also a bit bizarre when you find out that the many of their models are built around a wooden ash frame and steel chassis. Morgan maintains this gives their cars a unique flexibility and strength which has proved to be surprisingly safer in some impact tests than conventional metallic builds.
The Japanese Nailed this One
Apparent safety improvements aside, you’d be forgiven for thinking you wouldn’t be able to find anybody willing to manufacture a car completely out of wood but it is in Japan where the idea of this car has become a reality.
The car in question is known as the ‘Maniwa’ and was built by Sada-Kenbi, who specialises in building objects and items out of wood – extending, it appears, to automobiles. Perhaps the most impressive aspect aside from the manufacture is that it is actually drivable and is powered by a 175cc engine that can achieve speeds of 50mph.
It really is more of a motorbike, if we’re going to be nit-picky, with its single seat and handlebar drive system; it can accommodate rear passengers though, with its nifty gull-wing doors and bench doubling up as the passenger seats and most astonishingly it is perfectly legal to drive on the road. Should you want to do so however, you’ll have to stump up for the £26,000 price tag, at least for that price you can be certain your motor will be turning the heads of every passer-by.