Yes, that’s the Stig. On a Honda lawnmower. Going 130 mph. Who says there’s no such thing as overkill in the landscaping industry?
This is not a product you can swing by and pick up at the local hardware store, more’s the pity. Instead it’s a custom job commissioned by the BBC’s Top Gear for their magazine, and also because, as fans know, everybody at Top Gear is pretty much completely bonkers.
Believe it or not, lawnmowers have been speedy for a while: Before Honda took up the task, a fuel additive company claimed to have gotten a riding mower up to 96.5 mph, and lawn mower racing is a sport often featured in local news puff pieces. Remember, it not only has to burn rubber; to qualify, it also has to cut grass.
Among the tweaks that were necessary to get this lawnmower to triple digit speed:
- The engine was pulled and replaced with one of Honda’s motorcycle engines.
- The steering, obviously not up to racing snuff either, was replaced with a Morris Minor’s steering system.
- The part of the chassis containing the blades was removed and remade in fiberglass to make the system lighter.
- In fact, the metal blades were removed as well: Two electric motors spin cables to cut the grass, making this more of a riding weedwacker than a lawnmower, but that’s a technicality, really, although apparently this disqualifies it from professional lawnmower racing.
Is this patently ridiculous? Of course it is. Everybody involves admits it is. Honda only took up the challenge, because, by their own admission, nobody had ever done it before and they enjoyed the idea of being first to re-engineer the lawnmower for ludicrous speed. Top Gear has flatly said there’s no scientific reason for it.
Admit it: You really want one anyway. Who knows? You might get your shot; it’d be a shame for all that engineering know-how to go to waste.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.