Back in 2008, I conned Make: magazine into sponsoring me and three other car guys and artists to enter a car in the 24 Hours of LeMons. The way I convinced them was pretty simple: car people and DIY/maker people have lots in common, but the two groups don't have as much interaction as you'd think they would. I'd like to do my part to help change that, if I can. And that's what this weekly column will be about as well: doing interesting things with cars, with car parts, about cars, anything. As long as it's related to cars in some way and is interesting, bring it on.
I want Car Hacks to be something that sees cars for what they really are: absolutely incredible machines, made up of many, many colonies of smaller machines. With seats inside. They're big, rolling collections of amazing parts that can be repurposed for almost anything. They're platforms for experimentation and personalization. They're ways to go fast, go slow, haul things, shock us, inspire us, scare us, make us hungry or weirdly aroused or both. And I want all of you involved.
Each week I'll talk about some inane idea I had, or showcasing a likely much less inane idea someone else— likely one of you reading this— had. These ideas may have developed into some actual project, or maybe not. Sometimes we'll have a detailed how to, sometimes we'll have details about a completed project, and sometimes this will be like a big collective sketchbook, with an unfinished idea put out for anyone to help out with. The truth is I don't exactly know what this will become, but I'm pretty sure it'll worth reading, if only to see how I failed or burned off my remaining fingerprints.
I'm interested in car-related projects that aren't the usual go-faster or detailed restorations. Those are great and have their place, but they're well documented. Car Hacks is for the less usual ideas, the ones you may not want to try on a car anyone actually likes. Or with parts of a car no one liked.
I'm doing this because I love cars and I love making stuff, and that's plenty of reason. I have some background in making things useless enough that they fall into the category of art, and I know there's many of you out there making great things as well. So, if they have anything at all to do with cars— in really any way— tell me. Just email me and tell me what you're working on, and we'll see about featuring it here. Even if everybody laughed at you, and you're gonna show them. Show them all.
Combining cars and other interests is great, too. For example, it happens that a lot of my recent work has been vintage-video game related: a giant working Atari joystick, a hoax 80s arcade machine, huge space invaders— so one upcoming project will combine elements of old video games and cars. I want to see how other people's interests mesh with cars. New methods of engine cooking, knitted shift boots, skylights you made from old Volvo hatches, a mechanical drum kit made from an old LeCar drivetrain, I want to hear about it all.
Also, I'm going to try and bring in very talented people I've worked with before. Artists and builders who've worked with cars, like Garnet Hertz, who I probably should have warned I'd mention, but there it is.
This is going to be fun.