Turbine-Powered Amish Buggy Makes 60 MPH Feel Like Time Travel

I don't need to tell you why a wooden-wheeled buggy with a Boeing gas turbine in the back is cool, right?
Thunder Buggy via Facebook

There’s nothing like driving a slow car fast. You feel like you’re extracting every ounce of performance from it, which usually isn’t possible with today’s outrageously powerful machines. And while it’s maybe easiest to do this with a rental car or your uncle’s Miata, I don’t think anything can match the thrill of a wooden buggy with a jet engine. Gotta getcha one of those.

Such a thing exists in the form of the Thunder Buggy. It was built by a crew out of Millersburg, Ohio, who runs the contraption nearly every time it gets the chance. The owner, Chad Clark, has been interviewed many a time with videos of it popping up everywhere across YouTube and social media. For sure, this thing has been the subject of many memes shared between Boomers for a while now.

It apparently took Clark and co-builder Mike Monter around 800 hours to complete the build. Most of that revolved around fitting the Boeing 502-12 gas turbine in a vehicle that was never meant to hold an engine at all. The flame-spitting behemoth was originally used in a ground power unit, otherwise referred to as an aircraft start cart, though now it powers the Thunder Buggy down quarter miles and airstrips. A steel subframe was built to support the extra weight, but don’t worry—the wheels are still made of wood.

That’s part of the reason why the cart only goes 60 miles per hour. Sure, it’d be cool to see one of these fly down a drag strip at triple digits, but it would probably be a lot less safe. Plus, speed isn’t the main point of the Thunder Buggy; entertainment is. Deep down, I’m channeling my Russell Crowe from The Gladiator impression.

Clark says that with the afterburner installed, the noise levels are insane. Whereas Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City holds the record for the loudest NFL stadium at 142.2 decibels, the Thunder Buggy is somewhere close to 180 decibels. It’s certifiably wicked, and what’s more, he’s clearly happy making that much noise anywhere they’ll let him.

The buggy’s Facebook page is loaded with photos and clips of exhibition runs across the country, especially in the Midwest near Clark’s home base of Ohio. Maybe the most famous video of it is this one from Dragway 42 in northeast Ohio. It’s been viewed millions of times after being picked up by huge social pages like Supercar Blondie.

All in all, I’m just happy this thing exists. The fact that someone acted on their impulse to make something different is reason enough to love it. They said online that the Amish community has reacted positively to it, even.

It’s definitely less about miles per gallon and more about smiles per gallon with this thing.

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