Thursday, January 26, 2012

Weird Thursday - Weird Vehicles Part 1

Today's weirdness is a day late, but is hopefully worth the wait. We've got a garage full of odd sci-fi conveyances that are (or have been) real, believe it or not. It ended up being rather crowded in our Weird Garage, so this is Weird Vehicles Part 1.

Top Speed: 20 mph
First up is the LeTourneau Overland MkII Land Train. It is like the Antarctic Snow Cruiser on steroids. Perfect for hauling much needed supplies across the Martian tundra (or across earthly deserts,) the Overland MkII was as long as two football fields. It had 54 electrically powered wheels and could carry 150 tons of cargo. Each wheel was over 11 feet tall. The idea was that it would be used by the Army to deliver goods to inhospitable and remote locales, but by the time it was ready for action in 1962, it was rendered obsolete by newly developed aircraft technologies. Sadly, most of the Land Train has been sold for scrap, although you can still see the restored lead car at the Yuma Proving Grounds Heritage Center.

Top Speed: Estimated 12 mph
The internet is great for finding all the brilliant things you may have thought you alone dreamed up, but have already been invented by somebody else. As a certain unnamed someone can cringingly attest to, the idea of a personal blimp has long been a dream of mine. Imagine skimming a few dozens of feet off the ground in majestic silence as you soar over some impossibly beautiful, normally inaccessible, scenery. I still haven't completely given up on my idea of a small one-person helium dirigible, but the Personal Blimp is the closest thing I've found in the meantime. The airship Alberto gets its lift from hot air rather than helium, and is umm, somewhat more expensive than I'd like my blimp to be, but hey that's a small price to pay for one cool steampunk ride. Oh, the internet also showed me I was into steampunk before I even knew what it was. Thanks a lot, internet.

We're going to round out this edition of Weird Vehicles with the Sakakibara Kikai Landwalker. It may look like a fitting opponent for Iron Man, or a way for the Empire to finally put down those pesky rebels, but you can actually take the Landwalker for a spin today. The price? only 36,000,000 yen. Let see, that comes to about $461,834.68. Shipping is probably extra. Oh, it also is armed with a canon that shoots foam balls. Score one for the Empire.
Top Speed: Looks like about 1/4 mph.
So, have you seen any weird vehicles in your travels?


  1. Oh yay, weird wednesday! I love that train thing. Looks like a milipede or something. My husband would love the bottom robot thing. Hope he doesn't see it. He'll want it or want to figure out how to build one.

  2. There were real, more manageable personal blimps in some spy or adventure movie of a number of years ago. They were sperical helium balloons from which the pilot hung as one does from a parachute, and he had a small engine (with a fan/propeller) strapped to the harness to propel it forward. The pilot twisted the harness to change the forward direction. In the movie, a half dozen or so of these things decended upon an inaccessible hideout of some bad guy. I wanted one immediately!

  3. Ha ha, M Pax, if your husband builds a robot, you gotta take some pics!

    That kind of personal blimp sounds cool, Peter. I want one too :)

  4. I've been to a couple of train museums and seen the Old West trains. I'm not sure if they were weird, but they were cool. I wonder if I can get a rich fan to buy me that walker... ;)

  5. I would love to commute to work in that walker! And when some dingbat cut me off or didn't merge properly, they'd hear the schooping sound of my mighty foam ball cannons!

  6. I like those old trains too, Lindsay. Heh, if you keep building fans at your current rate, you'll be able to the walker yourself!

    That's right, Nicholas! Although it might be a long commute. That walker looked pretty slow ;)

  7. That walker looks like something out of Avatar. New follower thanks to MPax!

  8. Thanks, Maurice (and to MPax, too!) Glad to have you around. Hopefully I'll be doing a better job of keeping up with the blog now...