Monocoque Engineering Box


I enjoyed driving an Ariel Atom a few years ago, but it's a hostile environment, and I'm not a fan of that. While I don't think that every track car should be as forgiving as a pool noodle, I tend to gravitate more toward vehicles that are simple and approachable. I applaud the Atom for being lightweight, but it's not the sort of thing you'd take to the local fair.

Now, this is not the Brubaker Box, even though they're broadly similar in design and styling. No, the Monocoque Engineering Box was a far more ambitious project that ended up being something like a road-going kayak with wheels—and about as consumer-friendly as a lightweight vehicle can get.

As you can see from the diagram below, the Box was engineered in a way unique from other vehicles. Its small components—including belt-driven four-wheel-drive, four-wheel-steering, and hydropneumatic suspension—were housed in and around a literal balsa wood and aircraft fibreglass monocoque. The two-piece body means the two occupants had to get in and out through the front hatch, which doubled as a windshield. Count me in, even though a future version of the Box would end up looking like an autonomous coffin.

For such a small, purpose-built machine, its controls were different, too: gears and clutch are done using your right hand, with the left on a twist-grip throttle. Here's where it gets odd: braking is done by twisting the throttle forward, and steering is done with your feet.

With parts scavenged mostly from motorcycles—or ATVs—its 60 horsepower 500-cc Kawasaki unit could provide incredible performance of the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds and a top speed of 150 km/h (95 mph). Not a typo. Performance was electrifying because of its insane weight of just 317 kg (700 lbs).

Credit goes to designers Dan Hanebrink and Matt Van Leeuwen; the former now builds incredible electric off-road bicycles, the latter I'm not too sure what he's up to.

Oh—one last thing—the Box was amphibious, too!