I dreamed of building a car. I knew that the two vehicles I was most intimately familiar with were unsuited to the sort of thing I wanted to do in this vehicle. I had a little drawing which I’m sure is either in a box at my parents house or a landfill somewhere and I’d sooner go dig in the landfill so I’ll attempt to recreate it here.
Keep in mind despite the fact that the concept itself is from when I was quite young, that drawing is from TODAY, that is as good as my handwriting, drafting and portraiture skills remain to this day. OK, back to the car. I did not give my vehicles names, this was simply to be… the car. The vehicle I would use until I died.
I knew that weight would be key, and while I clearly had tank-inspirations, my goal with this vehicle was not onslaught but stealth (the katana and suppressed Steyr AUG are also clues to my overall goals), I want you to note the supine position I’m in, as well as the periscope, which I assumed would be important to maintain visibility since I would be laying with my feet in front of me. In fact the design criteria of “ninja like stealth” was one of the cons to a treaded design, along with “don’t know how to build” and “what uses treads”. So I settled on a 2×6 or 2×8 design using riding lawnmower tires or Honda ATV tires, depending on cost. I couldn’t quite suss out multiaxle drive so I figured I’d start with a single axle and work from there. I did not imagine the need for suspension articulation, but I had already selected potential hatch latch/lock mechanisms and sources for the plastic I’d need for the windows. Arizona is very hot, so I took inspiration from the teepee and swamp cooling, calling boldly for the body of my tank to be built from a 2×2 stick frame with canvas cloth stretched over it, in a stealthy flat black. The canvas would shade me from the harsh sun while I slept (Did I mention this is a live in car, and it took me a long time to understand why I loved the GMC Motorhome and the curvier Winnebagos so much).
And the loose weave cloth would still allow air to flow through the vehicle. I’d use a mister system to keep myself cool if it got worse than that.
I wasn’t sure what power source I’d use. Electric had serious potential, since it was so quiet. Golf carts were electric and they’re pretty stealthy even though they’re not even designed for ninja assault tactics. But I’d have to source batteries and charge them somehow. Arizona had a lot of sun so I assumed I could go solar-only but the panels were quite expensive and it was pretty tough to figure out what all the fuss was about range and maximum amperage draw and voltage sag. Fuses? Confusing.
Lawnmowers were pretty stealthy, and cars use alternators to charge batteries, and it’s just connected with a V belt. The alternator was held with its pulley horizontally and I wasn’t sure if that was important. I didn’t want to mess with success. I had not conceived of horizontal drive motors so I simply imagined a very elaborate system to change the direction of drive from a lawnmower motor to horizontal with, again, evaporative cooler/swamp cooler parts. That way I could use my battery to do my stealth work, then when I need to charge it, and the enemy is gone, I can fire up the motor to charge the battery and I’m back to creepy crawling. Maybe I could even tap that output directly and have a battery-free “loud cruise” mode. Hybrid assault tank. That’s some forward think.
Probably with a drop point hunting knife and a 30/30 lever action in the place of the katana and the AUG. Those are really impractical weapons. So childish.