Deep in the heart of Europe lies a quiet little nation of about 10 million inhabitants. Quiet now at least, but near the center of several major “conflicts” over the past century, either by simple location or political leanings. Perhaps best known to know-nothing Americans as the home of goulash and the Rubik’s Cube, this nation is Hungary. But for gearheads, Hungary occupies a more important niche in the development of the internal combustion engine. See, Hungary is the home of Janos Csonka and Donat Banki, the two inventors of the carburetor.
The history and development of this vitally important bit of engine technology is too complex to relate in a short space here, but was happening concurrently in the late 1800s among several inventors including the two Hungarians. The development of the device and the practical deployment of it with the internal combustion engine changed the world. By the turn of the century, engines were being installed in everything from boats to industrial machinery, horseless carriages to bicycles.
Of course, as with the carburetor and the engine itself, technology advanced… instead of being built of hardwood, car chassis were fabricated with metals, transmissions advanced from belt drives to complex multiple-speed gearboxes.
But back deep in the woods of Hungary, one man held the line against technological advances. He had a dream. A dream of a motorcycle that not only he could build himself, but he could do without a welder. Okay, so I don’t know if that’s specifically why he decided to undertake this project, but the outcome is clear:
Yes, it is a
viking helmet wooden motorcycle. Using what appears to be a significant amount of dimensional lumber (you know, like 2x4s) mixed in with custom pieces and some sort of personal-sized whiskey barrel re-purposed as a gas tank, Istvan Puskas assembled himself a truly one-of-a-kind conveyance. Nearly everything on this bike, from the wheels to the frame and the handlebars, are made from wood, antler or other non-metal flora or fauna.
Judging by the photos and the story over at Odditycentral.com (also home of the matchstick gearbox), only fasteners, lights and a few components are metal – well, that and the engine from an old Fiat.
Was it Hungary’s relative isolation behind the Iron Curtain that spawned this creativity and use of locally-sourced materials? A desire for a truly “green” ride? Or something far more cool that lurks in the heart of many Hoon: “what the hell, I’ll just build it myself.”
Thanks to Jason for sending this in to the tips line. Do you know of any other vehicles constructed of alternative materials that your fellow Hoons may enjoy? Send it in!
Ray Lindenburg is an Associate Editor with Hooniverse.com, but he also contributes to his own site Hatchtopia.com. Head over there for all things hatchback.
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