Back in 2008 I visited a workshop where Joe Harmon was building a particularly unique automobile. Inspired by the deHavilland Mosquito of World War II fame, Joe had designed and was in the process of constructing a car primarily out of wood.
Contrary to what you might suppose laminated wood is a very light and strong material that has many of the characteristics of carbon fiber. The Mosquito was a light and powerful fighter bomber built in England that exceeded the speed and capacity of many of the metal monoplanes of the day. Plywood was used to construct the PT boats of WWII that terrorized Japanese naval vessels in the Pacific.
Joe created his own laminates of woven wood to form various parts of the structure, but the pieces created to form the body are particularly stunning. The weave really does remind you of woven carbon fiber.
This was Joe’s project as a graduate student at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. While he was working to complete the Splinter a company in Mooresville, NC, found his project so interesting that they hired him. It was there that I traveled to and saw the completed body for the first time. It had been two a couple of shows being displayed as a prototype but Joe is still going to complete the Splinter project so that it has a running engine (GM Northstar) and complete the driver’s compartment.
As it sits today this is a stunning piece of design engineering and I look forward to its completion.