We’ve seen wood on the exterior of cars before; if you’re old enough, you will have grown up seeing the iconic Morris Minor Traveller with it’s wooden braced rear parked up on UK streets. Or if you were in the USA you might get nostalgic over wood panelled classics from Ford (think National Lampoon’s Vacation) or Dodge.
Yet Joe Harmon wanted to take things further and create a super car pretty much entirely made out of wood – wood actually has a better strength to weight ratio than either steel or aluminium. So meet the fantastically named Harmon Splinter – a 6-speed manual, mid-engined rear wheel drive super car.
Joe is an industrial designer based in Moorsville in North Carolina, so has a good grounding in making things that won’t fall to bits at the first rev of an engine. He started the process way back in 2005 as a graduate school project at Carolina State University with some sketches on the idea for a wood and glue super car.
The car is a labour of love that has been carefully produced over a period of several years and around 20,000 hours worth of work, and the Harmon Splinter has been there throughout some of Joe’s big moments in life, including his graduation and marriage.
The car was finally completed in the autumn of 2015 and made its head turning debut at the Essen Motor Show in Germany, a show that has always been part of the enthusiast tuning community’s major calendar events.
what of the car itself?
A Corvette was the donor for much of the hardware, with a modified Corvette LS7 7-litre Crate Engine under the bonnet. The structure of the car reads more like a high-end description in a furniture catalogue, with locally sourced woods like hickory, ash, birch and maple making up the bulk of the actual structure (including the chassis), while cherry, walnut and oak create the refined exterior look of the car. The wheels are finished with ash and walnut floating spokes.
It’s not just the exterior that is made of wood; the interior too is lovingly crafted, with a wooden steering wheel and column and wooden gauge housings. Even the gauges themselves consist of as much wood as is possible. It’s the sort of thing you might pay extra for in a standard luxury car.
You start to get a feel for the painstaking attention to detail that has gone into this super car when you find out that the wood was actually woven – woven into a cloth-like material by two looms to make it flexible enough to mould and bend into the desired shapes for the bodywork panels. The look that this weave gives the panels is that of some sort of high-class wooden/Kevlar hybrid material – it certainly looks very classy.
The car is a one-off and Joe won’t be building any more. He says that it sits low to the ground and despite having only driven it around 15 miles so far, it hints at the sort of power, feel and torque you might expect from the look of the car.
The Harmon Splinter is both classic looking and unique at the same time.
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