Canadians Talking Tech

Motorhead Messiah

by Noah Bloom Posted in Automotive, Environmental Efforts

Could 37 year old, high school dropout Johnathan Goodwin change Detroit? Goodwin is a car hacker in Wichita, Kansas doing some remarkable things in his workshop, according to this 2007 article from Fast Company. It makes you wonder why Detroit isn’t doing more to make cars faster yet more conservative on fossil fuels and emissions, when this small shop is doing just that. He says, “Detroit could do all this stuff overnight if it wanted to.”

About his modified H1, he says, “Think about it. A 5,000-pound vehicle that gets 60 miles to the gallon and will do zero to 60 in five seconds!”

The numbers are simple: With a $5,000 bolt-on kit he co-engineered–the poor man’s version of a Goodwin conversion–he can immediately transform any diesel vehicle to burn 50% less fuel and produce 80% fewer emissions.

He’s refitting cars for Neil Young and Arnold:

And word’s getting out. In the corner of his office sits Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1987 Jeep Wagoneer, which Goodwin is converting to biodiesel; soon, Neil Young will be shipping him a 1960 Lincoln Continental to transform into a biodiesel–electric hybrid.

Basically he’s advocating step 1) more diesel 2) diesel electric 3) hybrid burning biodiesel along with hydrogen, ethanol, natural gas, or propane. “You can feed it hydrogen, diesel, biodiesel, corn oil–pretty much anything but water.”

He joined the Pimp My Ride crew for a special Earth Day episode, where they converted a 1965 Impala into a diesel beast. Watch it here (Canadian link).

These days, it seems his focus is on converting H1s and H2s into monstrously fast and reasonably emitting trucks. Maybe it’s not the future we idealize of quick yet nearly zero emissions vehicles, but perhaps the catalyst for popularizing vehicles with lower emissions is fast and hot. Compare to the upcoming and gorgeous Tesla Model S — I think they nailed the design, and that probably sells better than any eco angle.

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