Home » The Autopian Gets An Intervention: Comment Of The Day

The Autopian Gets An Intervention: Comment Of The Day


Every day, your favorite writers log onto their computers, fire up those keyboards, and write the stories that you love. Apparently, we have a bit of a theme going on and we didn’t even know it. Our little slice of utopia for all things that drive, ride, and fly has been looking a bit like a prepper site lately.

Something I love about our ragtag group is that we all have something that we love that’s perhaps just a touch out of what many would say is normal. Each of us has something different to offer. David is the undisputed champion of rust and has proven that he can turn a pile of random rusty parts into a functional vehicle that passes inspection. I love everything with an engine or motor, regardless if it flies, rides, sails, or drives. Then there’s Jason, with his intricate knowledge of taillights and cars that you never heard of before. There’s also Thomas, great with car audio technology, turns car news into delightful reads, and could probably tell you anything about a BMW. Don’t forget our wonderful contributors, who range from fighter pilots and engineers to daydreaming designers, car designers, cheap car flippers, first-time car reviewers, and more! We love our experts!

And keeping us focused and on track to success are the wonderful Matt and Patrick.

Combine all of us, and I guess you do get some weird results. Results that andyindividual noticed when commenting on Thomas’ piece on a Subaru that looks like it’s ready to tackle a post-apocalyptic Brooklyn:

I’m concerned that this site is starting to take on a real ‘prepper’ tone. From RVs to drive out into the middle of nowhere to live in, shitboxes you can use as battering rams, Mad Maxing roadside trash, individuals hauling their rusty crap to the coast to presumably start a new survivor cult with a multi-tiered member-caste system… How much of a dystopia with this autopia be?

I guess it is a useful tip to know you should eat your spaghetti in the shower, lest you be seen and mistaken for a zombie.

As for this Subie, it looks like someone tried to make a Citroen Cactus but lacked the humour and joy to pull it off.

I wanted to counter, saying that we’re just enthusiastic about silly vehicles. Then, I looked again and realized that andyindividual is so right. The very first article that I wrote for money was about a rare bus that could also be an RV. It’s now more than two years later and I’m still working that beat. Heck, I’m so in love with buses and RVs that I’ve now owned two buses and a fiberglass camper. And when I’m not dreaming about driving a GM New Look like it’s a Corvette, I’m taking totally unprepared cars into the wilderness, then using them to pick up roadside trash.

My colleagues publish similar types of pieces, including the very Subaru article that andyindividual commented on earlier today. We’ve also been writing a lot about off-road expedition RVs. And now, we have David moving across the country, and who knows what will happen out there. Huh, I guess we’ve unintentionally made ourselves look like preppers telling you how to prepare for a dystopian future! I can say that what we publish are things that we love to write and we’re definitely not planning on some grim future, or something…

Look, just keep eating that shower spaghetti and everything will be fine.

Top Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures/Opposite-Lock

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34 Responses

  1. If things go Mad Max, I’ll have a vehicle appropriate for the job. And one that reflects my sensibilities.

    I’m building a vehicle that is designed to remain functional in a grim future with no grid electricity or liquid fuels available.

    It is a “bicycle” that is going to have an aerodynamic body shell, 3 wheels, solar panels, fully functioning bicycle drivetrain, a 2.5 kWh battery, a PMDC motor, a roll cage, light-duty 16×1.4″ DOT rims, DOT-approved motorcycle tires(Mitas MC2, popular with solar cars for their low rolling resistance), hydraulic disc brakes using a mix of motorcycle/ebike/atv parts, Cotter pin axles. Intended finished weight is right around 100 lbs.

    It will have a total of 13 peak horsepower and about 4 continuous horsepower when the upgrade is completed. This should be enough to do 0-60 mph in under 8 seconds, and if I get the aerodynamics right, it will only need 4 horsepower to hold 100 mph on flat ground, which is the top speed I’m designing for.

    The idea is that it can be fueled from any combination of human power, grid electricity, solar power, and generator electricity, and any of them by themselves. The small 150W solar array it will be carrying will likely provide 30-100 miles free range a day, depending on what speeds I travel. If the battery runs dead, the hope is that it will be slippery enough to maintain 25 mph on flat ground and sprint to 45 mph. I’ll also be able to prop it up on jack stands and pedal to recharge the battery if dead, or alternatively, ride it up a steep hill with the motor disabled, then use regen going back down the hill.

    This way, there will ALWAYS be a means to fuel it, and being able to pedal it will extend the use of the electricity available in the event that it becomes very precious.

    The wheel size I selected was such because in a situation where the appropriate tires are unobtainable, it can still use 20″ tires from a child’s BMX bike to travel at speeds under 35 mph. These 20″ bicycle tires are perhaps the most common size of tire of any kind available for any vehicle, so I’ll always have a good chance of being able to scavenge replacement tires if needed.

    The previous iteration of this vehicle had 4 horsepower, could do 0-30 mph in about 6 seconds, topped out at 50 mph using the motor, and if I disabled the motor outright, I could still reach 35 mph in a sprint on flat ground and hold 20+ mph all day long(as long as I had food). On its 1.5 kWh battery, I had a 150-200 mile range at 30-35 mph with light pedaling effort. Weight was 91 lbs, and the CdA is estimated from coast down testing and measurements to be 0.20 m^2. The replacement is going to have about 1/3 that drag. The 0.008 kWh/mile it uses to cruise 30-35 mph is equivalent to more than 4,000 miles per gallon.

    1. I’ve always thought a bicycle would be the best mode of transport in an apocalyptic situation, your design takes that to an awesome extreme! I sincerely hope there is an article or video on this vehicle once it is ready.

      What sort of storage will you have, I am assuming some amount since you mentioned it can travel decent distances with minimal effort?

      1. Regarding storage space, the previous iteration could carry a week’s worth of groceries plus food/water/tools in the trunk

        Or, camping gear, tools, spare sets of clothes, and some food/water.

        The next one will have about 50% more storage space. It might be comparable in volume to what a Mazda Miata can carry.

      1. Mine uses a PMDC hub motor. The chain only moves from pedal strokes, at least forward.

        A middrive running the pedal-drivetrain chain would create an entirely new set of design issues to address. I know someone who built a similar vehicle with a 6 kW middrive setup running through a 10-speed rear freewheel, but he doesn’t post its antics online since the vehicle isn’t exactly legal in his state to operate in the manner that he does.

      1. I’m not going to stop once this thing is finished. Wait until I build a 150 lb AWD microcar that has as much peak horsepower, using ebike motors. It would be maximum hoonage.

      2. Power/Weight ratio is still the boss around this here universe, until we figure out some serious Star Trek level schenanigans it always will be. Someone PLEASE check my math but 13 peak horsies pushing 100 or so pounds sounds better than a 2020 Supra.

        1. 13 horsepower would be pushing around 250 lbs with me in it and no luggage. So more like Miata-level power-to-weight ratio.

          That said, the 150 lb vehicle with 150 horsepower that I want to build, and say, a 200 lb payload, would be pure insanity. It would have a hypercar-appropriate power to weight ratio, and could do it on a very light battery. A single-seater vehicle that can do 70 mph on 0.020 kWh/mile is theoretically possible, allowing you to get a very usable range with a small, light, cheap battery. Like 4-5 kWh would be all you needed for such a thing.

          LoneStar makes batteries that make sufficient peak power to output the desired peak horsepower, in a package that small. There are prototype ebike motors by AMZ technologies that can do 50 horsepower peak, in a 7 lb package, and off-the-shelf you can buy ebike controllers from PowerVelocity that weigh 1 lb and can output that 50 horsepower peak. So all of the technology to make this vehicle possible is there.

          And it would be hoonage.

  2. The spaghetti shower merch might make me join.

    I will wait to see if all the unrusty stuff that DT finds while California Dreamin’ proves to be too much and he hightails it to South Dakota.

  3. I have questions about the shower spaghetti.

    1. Is the spaghetti in the shower, or does DT lean out to take a bite?
    2. Depending on the answer to 1, how do you keep the soap out of the spaghetti?
    3. How do you keep the spaghetti out of the drain?
    4. Is the drain actually a dispose-all, sarlacc pit style?
    5. Is soap used?

    I’m not sure I want the answers to this, but I’m here for the merch!

    1. I also have questions.

      1. DOES IT MATTER?!
      2. See 1.
      3. Are we sure ‘shower’ isn’t ‘the sprayer in the kitchen sink’?!
      4. Is the EPA reading these comments? Because they probably should not be. You have to tell us if you’re a cop.

      As for 5, uh, well… Simple Green and Gojo Natural Orange probably technically count.

  4. LOL, and that spaghetti in the shower thing almost got ROFLing (thumbs up emoji..)

    Thanks for all your different commitment, making this site so worth while 🙂

    Happy Newyears from DK

  5. The only post apocalyptic transportation I’ll consider is the palanquin my minions will carry. They need to start some interval training now cause I’ll be in a hurry.

  6. “Be Prepared” is part of being a good Boy Scout or enjoying the boondocks rather than fighting for survival there. And, of course, paved roads are boring, boring, boring, dull, dull, dull even at the highest speeds.

  7. One thing we can absolutely depend on, and I think Torch can verify, is that David isn’t “prepped” for anything except living like a feral animal … OK, maybe he’s right after all.

    1. That absolutely needs to be the next shirt: a plate of spaghetti under a (rusty) shower head, with a ball-joint pickle fork instead of, you know, a food fork.

      And the A in spaghetti should be the Autopian logo. Okay, now I need to draw this…

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