A Daydreaming Designer Is Forced To Design A Vehicle For A Nation With Enormous Money

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Working for Torch, I am starting to feel like Dennis Hopper’s character in the film Apocalypse Now, blindly following a madman into the abyss.  To quote Dennis from the movie:

He can be terrible. He can be mean. And he can be right. He’s a great man. I wish I had words, man. I wish I had words… 

If Marlon Brando’s character in the film weighed a lot less and was really into car taillights, it would be sort of the same thing. Check this latest concept that Torch had requested [Editor’s Note: I believe I demanded – JT] I explore and you might agree.

The Premise

With cash slowly going the way of beepers and CRT televisions, we don’t put much thought into physical money and its many forms anymore. It’s long been understood that the currency of the United States is likely some of the most unimaginative and even unattractive on the entire planet. While other nations get gorgeous color portraits on bills and interestingly shaped coins, Americans are stuck with monochrome green and gray paper money and dull looking discs.

Some places have even taken the sculptural aspect of physical coins to incredible levels of scale, the most notable being the Yap island group in the Pacific. This small country inexplicably features coins that can be up to eight feet in diameter and weighing hundreds of pounds.


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An even more interesting fact about these coins is that due to their weight they often do not move from the site in which they were first placed…they have ‘changed hands’ several times even though their location has not.  There is even a story of a coin that was on a ship that sank hundreds of years ago, yet this coin has gone through several owners despite being located at the bottom of the sea.

Yap residents understandably do not use difficult-to-move items as working day-to-day currency. However, there is one nation that is quirky enough to employ such giant coins for daily transactions. It’s the tiny island country of Jasonia.

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Dear Leader Torch, His Serene Highness of Jasonia, is terrified of electronic currency and demands that citizens exclusively use coins. He’s also afraid of people “losing money in couch cushions and shit,” so he prefers coins ranging from around a foot to almost five feet in diameter.

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The Vehicle

Such heavy items are understandably difficult to move, so the vehicles that Jasonians drive need to be able to assist in even simple transactions. Dear Leader even imported a DKW/Auto Union Van and a Brubaker Box to his nation to show the indigenous vehicle industry “how it should be done” since his feeling is that the ideal car should be “futuristic and sort of stupid looking…you know, in a cute way…so good.”

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Subsequently, the typical Jasonian vehicle is made to Torch’s liking and looks a bit like a toaster with windows. Jasonian cars are fairly common in design, with a passenger compartment up front and cargo space in back (either closed or open like a pickup), separated by different ‘money cartridges’ that carry the giant coins. The engine is located in back, and per Dear Leader’s orders all of them must be powered by air cooled rear engines (Torch has banned the sale of antifreeze on the island).


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The ‘money cartridges’ feature gravity feed tracks to store the huge coins. There are several layers of tracks in the cartridge to accommodate more coins.

Every business on Jasonia is designed to facilitate in filling and distributing currency into these cartridges. Let’s take a look at how this plays out in typical Jasonian life.

Gettin’ Paid

You realize that a trip to the Banco De Jasonia is necessary to get you the needed cash for the day (no US-based banks were willing to set up shop on the island). This task is not that difficult, as you don’t have to leave your car. In fact you couldn’t even if you wanted to.

As you speak to a friendly teller (or use the ATM), the roof section over the money cartridge lifts up (either one section or the whole width of the roof over the cartridge, based on coin size) and coins are gravity fed in from a raised chute. Zig-zag tracks inside the cartridge attempt to slow the moving coins somewhat to reduce the impact of the heavy falling objects.  You still get a hellacious thunk from these things.

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Droppin’ Coin

You’re ready to hit the streets of Jasonia and spend some of that hard earned cash. Let’s get a Supa Burga to start the day, or maybe a breakfast burrito. After placing your order through the crackling speaker, you type in the amount to be spent into a dashboard keypad…servos on doors at the base of your car’s money cartridge allow the needed coins to drop into a slot in the ground to pay for your hard earned junk food. You’re lucky…back in the day in old cars you would need to yank heavy levers to allow the cash to drop, and listen and count the loud ‘clunks’ as the coins fell.

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Note that $1000 coins rarely are used, except maybe when trading your vehicle in. You know, when the sales guy says “what would it take to make this deal today?” you can say “I got two $1000 coins in the slots of my trade…take it and we’ve got a deal.” Then the guy goes to “talk to his manager.”

Payin’ me back

So last week you bought lunch for your friend Mercedes the Charter Helicopter Pilot, so it’s high time that she paid you back. No problem…PayPal has built a number of ‘cash change’ stations on the island. For a small fee, you pull your car up to one side of the PayPal tower, while your friend drives up to the opposite side. You friend drops the coins to be exchanged into a ground hole, and conveyors lift the money into your money cartridge. You’re even. Simple, right?

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Rolling with the rolling cash

Some residents are more prone to flaunting their financial status by displaying their working capital.

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Multi-platinum Jasonian recording artist PRNDL (pronounced PRIN-duhl) is a good example (his last hit ‘2 Much Koin’ crashed the Jasonian servers with downloads) with his extended wheelbase vehicle featuring so many money cartridges that he needs extra wheels and either a turbo Porsche flat six or a Tatra V8 to motivate his ride.  Dear Leader, by the way, HATES this thing but PRNDL’s tax payments fund a lot so he’s tolerant of it.

 The Approaching Revolution

After several generations of this coffee-table sized money, younger people are finally becoming ‘woke’ to the fact that lugging around coins several hundred times the diameter of other nation’s spare change is a ‘bad thing.’ Dear Leader’s madness has left him vulnerable to coup attempts, but he is being protected and helped by his right hand man, Transportation Secretary of Jasonia, the honorable David Tracy. David is trying to find a way to unify the nation by turning the cumbersome system that Torch has created into something world beating.

First, David has to convince Torch to accept digital currency or risk being physically crushed by the rebels with something heavy…like those damn coins. But what will the people do with cars designed to hold giant discs?

The answer is that Jasonian cars can be converted to electric power, the former money cartridges can be changed to battery compartments, and rechargeable batteries in the size of the old coins will drop in at ‘fuel stations’ that simultaneously take your depleted batteries to charge them. The cells have positive and negative contacts on opposite sides so it’s just like giant watch batteries, and rubber perimeter trim protects them as they roll into place and touch metal contacts inside. Since most Jasonian vehicles have Volkswagen power you can drop it out and retrofit an electric motor pretty easily with just a few bolts.


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Even the PayPal stations could be used when your buddy wants you to “spot him a few volts,” like siphoning gas out of a tank.

Overall, a pretty ingenious solution.  While more developed countries force people to sit around forever while they ‘supercharge’ their $90,000 electric car and ruin the life of the $35,000 battery pack, Jasonians get power restored in minutes, even seconds.

The Future?

Can David convince Torch to make the change and be a global leader in electric vehicle battery infrastructure? Can a tiny island nation succeed in a technology arena where others have failed?

Sources: twitter, Wikipedia, Medium, NPR

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60 Responses

  1. President Bartlet: It’s actually 607 small islands in the South Pacific. Interestingly, while its total land mass is only 270 square miles, it occupies more than a million square miles of the Pacific Ocean. Population is 127,000 and the U.S. Embassy is located in the state of Pohnpei and not, as many people believe, on the island of Yap.

    Toby: Why would a person have that information at their disposal?

    President Bartlet: Parties.

      1. Me : Torch calls you and me the Batman and Robin of car design at The Autopian.
        The Bishop : Well, I don’t think he does.
        Me : He doesn’t, but he should, ’cause that’s what we are.
        The Bishop : Okay.
        Me: We’re Batman and Robin.
        The Bishop : Which one’s which?
        Me: Look at me, Bishop. Am I Robin?
        The Bishop : I’m not Robin.
        Me : Yes you are.
        The Bishop : Okay, well, let’s move off this.
        Me : You bet, little friend.
        The Bishop : Listen, we’re really not Batman and Robin.
        Me : No, we’ll keep those identities secret. I’m Chris Bangle and you’re my ward… Adrian van Something.

  2. Jasonia is a silly silly place.
    What country, when designing their own vehicles, would leave massive flywheels for mechanical batteries just sitting there in the back of the vehicle not doing anything?

    Put your money to work, Jasonia. Spin it to thousands of RPMs and have them power your vehicles. Get it together.

      1. Could put it in a big ole gimbal system. Hell, with the right gimbal system it could aid in turning.

        I can already hear the tagline “Your Porsche turns on a dime? That’s cute”

        1. Unfortunately for Jasonia (I mean, further unfortunately) the car company is bankrupted several times and propped back up by the unstable government when shorts in the (gimbal-lock-turn-assist-system) cause the wrong gimbals to lock and the vans flip onto their roofs when executing a turn.
          The lack of governmental oversight, and perceived lack of care from the government quickly causes riots all over the normally sleepy country.

          I’m writing about alternate histories for countries that don’t actually exist. I think that pizza I had for lunch had something wrong with it.

          1. Damnit, we need an edit button, and I mean it.
            A sentence above should look like:
            “…when shorts in the GLTAS (gimbal-lock-turn-assist-system) cause the wrong gimbals…”

          2. Mr. Asa…yes, the short circuits from the Zastava electrics could cause the money cartridge door to open while the car is going around a turn. This would send coins rolling and one car would stop short, causing the car behind to hit the stopped car and fly through the air, into a tractor trailer that explodes after it smashes through. Then DOOT…DOOT…DOOT….DOOT….the theme to CHiPs starts to play. Yes, I seem to be obsessed with 1980s TV shows as well.

    1. The problem is that because of various sanctions, there is no direct exchange. You’d have to work through the black market using Torchquids as an intermediary. Those are historically known to be very flammable currency.

      1. any change less than ten dollars has to be done with live animals. Rabbit is five bucks, and sheep is like eight…depends on the exchange rate of the day.

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  3. (whispering) Hello…?
    David where are you? Get home quick. Your Autopian site that you left running in your home has gotten very uh, strange lately. I’m so frightened and don’t know how much longer I can …(line goes dead).

          1. Adrian- I agree with the temporary blindness when purchasing a vehicle. Must explain how I bought a BMW estate car with Dame Edna eyes and can’t remember why I did that.

  4. Clearly this is not thought out well. First half the roof isn’t big enuf to fit coins 6 feet in diameter. Also sliding in from the side would prevent the vehicle damaging thuds spoke of here. Also who would realize, after dropping and breaking some coin that parts of coins would keep making change no longer necessary.
    And finally if I know DT like I do this would not be his suggestions. He would push used Jeep parts as money. The weight and condition of said parts would determine their value. And there would be no concern about inflation because as the parts rust they lose weight and value so everyone’s money automatically loses value so the government could just keep making new parts. Of course rustproofing would be illegal. Smugglers would sneak in Por15.

    1. Dave- in the text I mention that both sides of the roof could open simultaneously to accommodate larger coins. Or sliding in from the side but still getting the gravity to work would be feasible as well, likely better. Or…you know…just not use big coins at all. But…one must do what one must do if Torch asks.

  5. What sort of puff piece is this, any article about Jasonia shouldn’t just omit discussion of alleged human rights abuses against the small but vocal part of the population who advocate removing the amber stripe from the Jasonian flag!

    1. PRNDL wants more than 3 speeds in his automatic, thank you.

      But who cares! A couple posters just said I can make $80 an hour doing simple things on a laptop! Screw this job!

    2. He’d actually tried to rebrand as PRDB (Purdbee) in advance of a pro-conservation album (being an island nation, Jasonia is rather heavily impacted by climate change, part of the reason Dear Leader took a recent interest in amphibious cars), but it massively flopped.

  6. I got kicked out of Jasonia. Evidently it is consided defacing money to drill holes in a small denomination coin and use it as a spare. It was cheaper than buying a tire! Kinda like using pennies as washers.

  7. Welp, I think I finally reached the end of the internet. But hang on now, my producer just whispered something into my ear… They (because pronouns) are telling me that there is more to the story. They say that I should inform my viewers that one should NOT, at any cost, google the term “JASONIA RULE 34”.

    And now for my editorial comment…. I use duckduckgo so I should be all good here.

      1. Rule 47: Don’t trust a man wearing a better suit than your own.

        I think I’m only one around here who owns a suit, which explains why I was only offered the ambassador’s position.

  8. Obligatory: The Horror… The Horror…

    OK, so Lord High Presidente Jason has dictated the size of the coins, but did he dictate the density? Just as US pennies are currently worth less than the total cost to make them, solid metal coins would be a money-losing nightmare. Therefore, making them mostly hollow by using a honey-combed plastic interior core and coating them with the metal appropriate for the face value would be far more economically feasible. This would also cut down on the mass of the coins and the wear and tear on the vehicles themselves. Now, I know that there are only state-sponsored mechanic shops and parts suppliers allowed in Jasonia, and that LHP Jason owns 51% of all those going concerns, so there may be some initial pushback on reducing wear and tear, but it’s clearly the best long term decision to make. I’ll let you make the case to Jason…

  9. As his Britannic Majesties Ambassador to Jasonia, I am duty bound add a little more back story. Until 1968 it was a British colony, because you know us Brits like to turn up, plant a Union Jack and claim it for ourselves.

    BLMC was the sole provider of vehicles to the island under export licence, and as a consequence the island still drives on the left. Also the island’s national sport is version of cricket played with huge balls and tiny cricket bats.

    1. “Britannic”, I call that a calculation in loss of respect.

      Britannic sank in November 21st of 1916. Thou SHALT not disrespect thy deseased. In one of the TEN Commandments written of Jasonia, Thou Shalt not mention or have Titles decreeing a High Ranking or Position of any kind in respect to those who passed on the Britannic.

  10. Amber turn signals noted. I like the round taillights —I imagine them in the form of ‘70s box truck taillights: just a cup with a bulb ( multiple for these, of course ) with the lens held in to a ‘step’ with a almost-circle of chromed rod. Simple, tough, and I think, classy

    1. TOSSABL- I believe that I made them the same size as well front and rear. The rears are obviously from a late US Beetle…the headlights are Twingo if I remember correctly.

      1. I immediately saw the resemblance to the elephant’s foot having obtained my permit in a ‘74 Super Beetle, but the rear 3/4 view of the one at the atm made me think of the recessed cup type I mentioned

  11. Great! Now can we do something about the passports? They’re engraved on bronze by a steam-powered engraving machine, controlled by a bank of Commodore VIC-20s. And they’re single-use; when you return to the island, your passport is melted down and returned to the Bronze Pool for use by future travelers. They’re gorgeous engravings, but there has to be a more practical way.

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