I’m dreamin’ of screamin…

16 Oct

I know… you were expecting another boring “My Container is better than your container” speech, huh?

As you know, my family is building a shipping container house, if it KILLS us.

And, it just might. But, stop drooling into your monitor, waiting for the scraps, huh? The boy gets everything. Everything.

Now, as we toil and grind, and cut, and hack, and curse like sailors…

I decided to put myself in your shoes, for just a moment. I mean, you’re sitting there, having “Corten Container dreams“… thinking about a big hammock stretched between two steel boxes, the water in the pool lapping quietly by your side, as you sleep the peaceful sleep of the blissfully happy.

Ah… I can see it all now….

(fade to dream…)

Boy… now you went and did it…

You finally built your ‘off-grid’ solar, photovoltaic, energy efficient, insulated like crazy, “Corten Chateau” in the country. It’s so cool and so ‘top-secret” that not even your nosy battle-axe of a Mother-In-Law knows where it is!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

You’ve got your own satellite Internet hook-up (Thank you “DISH-I.P.“!!), and you’re out by the lap pool (that you built out of a shipping container shell) on your wireless laptop, hammock lulling you to sleep… as you ponder the actual writing of your memoirs!

But then… your wife comes out and tells you that the kid is out of diapers!

What do you do? What do you do?

Do you race into the garage and jump in the Bio-fuel powered HUMMER, to go on a “Pampers Expedition”?

hummer1No! Those nasty villagers keep keying my truck! Bastards!

Do you hop on the Harley and race thru the countryside, looking for “Harley Huggies“?


Nope! Not enough cargo space… Diaper boxes are HUGE!

How would you like to jump into THIS baby, to go get baby some “buttcovers“?


And it gets 170 miles to the gallon. So, you can be gone a LOOOOOOOONG time before you have to refuel…

Now, we’re cooking with gas!

Okay, so it’s NOT gas. It’s diesel. In fact, it’s not just diesel, it’s a hybrid, and it’s electric, too!


(I know, I know… What else would a ‘hybrid’ be?) ๐Ÿ™‚

(dream over! WAKE UP!)

Those geniuses at Volkswagen have done it again! They’ve set the world on fire, at least at the Frankfurt Motor Show!

At a lunchtime press conference on the first day of the Frankfurt Motor Show, they kicked everybody’s butt with a carbon fiber, half width, 1-liter hybrid electric diesel tandem two-seater car named the L1. Now, they’re slating this car to go into production, in 2013. When it does, it will almost certainly be the most fuel efficient car available with a combined diesel fuel consumption figure of .364 Gal / 62.14 miles (1.38 l/100km), thanks to its “miserly motor” combo, almost feather-like weight โ€“ 838 pounds (380 kg) in total – and an aerodynamic drag co-efficient of just 0.195!

They didn’t do this ‘overnight.’ They’ve been hard at work on it for over seven years. Back when it dawned, the idea that you could build a production version of the radical two-seater, which achieved fuel consumption of one liter fuel per 100 kilometers, was so remote as to be considered “insane.” Even “those in the know” called it “unthinkable“.

The L1 is the second generation of the Volkswagon 1-liter car, and it’s really, really close to production readiness.


(Since it’s the second Generation, why didn’t they call it the “L2”? or the “L1.1”? Hmmm…)

And its dimensions are pretty amazing – the length of the L1 at 12.5 feet (3,813 millimeters) is still similar to that of a Volkswagen Fox, and its height of 3.75 feet (1,143 millimeters) nearly matches that of a Lamborghini Murciรฉlago, while the carโ€™s aerodynamically optimized width of almost 4 feet (1,200 millimeters to be exact) has no comparisons in the world of todayโ€™s production cars.

I figure that you could get about (5) of these in a standard 2-car garage. That, my friends, is a whole fleet of fun!

And Volkswagen is just like my kid:


“Dad, Why?”

“Daddy!ย ย  Why? Why? Why?”

As they developed the L1 prototypes, they questioned EVERYTHING under the sun. They asked questions about automobiles that had never been asked before!

How do I know all of this? Well, I read it in print, so it must be true! Right? I mean, if it wasn’t true, they couldn’t print it, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

Seriously, those engineers at VW started with the body construction, and asked themselves that age old question:

“Yeah, yeah, energy, schmenergy… But will it attract girls?”

Wait, that’s not it… ๐Ÿ™‚

They asked themselves how a car would have to look to attract Halle Berry. Wait… that’s not right either…

Okay, seriously, they asked themselves how a car would have to be built to consume as little energy as possible.

The logical answer: it’d have to be extremely aerodynamic and lightweight.

Well, duhhhhh!

But, that’s not easy. After all, some idiot is gonna be gawking at you, while you’re toolin down the road in this baby, and that somebody else is gonna smash into you. Why, it’s as sure as this big butt in my jeans…

So, the words for the day were: “maximum safety.” But how do you do that with a 4 foot wide car? You “use the Force, Luke.”

Yep, the same “force” the ‘air monkeys’ use… You use High-Tech carbon fiber. CFRP, to be exact!

And the V’Dub guys wanted you to have a good time flying this down the highway. What better way than to build it, to resemble a fighter aircraft?

Well, just call me Maverick, and strap my butt in! I feel the need for some speed!

The seat layout had to be: One seat behind the other.

And none of them sissy “scissor doors” either. It’s been done to death! You get into it just like the flyboys do… You step down into it, when the canopy gets “raised.”

Beyond the looks, this baby is all “high-tech.” Each component has been redesigned, a special chassis with aluminum components was developed, and above all… the crucial CFRP technology from Formula-1 racing and airplane construction was transferred to automotive manufacturing.

This has been combined with a unique form of hybrid drive to create a near-production vehicle. I bet it even uses Dy-lithium crystals! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sign me up! I want one.

And you better wake up, too!! There’s gonna be a long list, when these babies hit US shores…

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin


7 Responses to “I’m dreamin’ of screamin…”

  1. Andy in Germany October 16, 2009 at 8:25 am #

    This is causing a real stir here as you can imagine, along the lines of “It’s okay all you little people employed in the car industry and the road building industry: we have he silver bullet: he electric/hybrid car that will make motoring continue forever! rejoice and be glad” etc. And the industry is clutching at this straw like a drowning man, as is the German government who are desperate to show the scapping premium was a good idea.

    Only one problem: How are we going to make enough power to replace the car fleet with an electric car fleet.

    • renaissanceronin October 16, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

      Hi Andy,

      I feel your pain, truly I do.

      The way I see it, the reasonable way to use a vehicle like this, is to use it as a commute vehicle, and recharge it at home (or even at work) using PV’s (photovoltaic panels).

      The prices for panels are dropping like a stone, and it’s just battery technology that is holding back a real breakthru in transportation.

      Admittedly, it’s not a “family” car. It’s for short trips to work, or the market.

      If you were to live “off-grid” and recharge it with your household system, it’d go a long way to making you “independent.” And that’s what my family strives to become.

      It’d be safer than a Harley, and not as offensive as a Hummer, to be sure. And, it’d be as fun to drive, as both of them! ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. David W October 16, 2009 at 3:37 pm #

    Hi, nice blog Ronin – I’m interested in building my own container house within the next 10 years. Just doing some research at this time and being that these steel structures can be stacked, what sort of lightning strike protection would you recommend? I’d hate to get zapped…


    • renaissanceronin October 16, 2009 at 3:52 pm #

      Hi David,

      IF I’m stacking them over three high, I consider the installation of a lightning rod. Remember that “normally” the homes are usually completely surrounded by siding and roofing material. And they usually are among the lowest objects in the area, much as other homes in a “normal” ‘burb are.

      The odd thing is that you’d think these homes would be prone to lightning strike. But in all the years we’ve been building them, to my knowledge not a single home has ever been hit. And we’re talking about some of them being in extremely remote locations, in comparison to “city life…”

      I like metal roofs (SSMR Rocks!). I like tall houses (well above the flood plane)… so when mine finally goes up (if the politicians and naysayers will just get the hell out of my way) it’ll have lightning protection in some manner that we’ll determine, when we reach that bridge. The lightning rod will just be one part of that protection.


  3. Madrigorne October 19, 2009 at 5:58 am #

    I would hate to hit a deer on the highway with that little thing – it would come through the windshield and take my head off… granted I would hate to hit a deer with any car. Also – I am not so sure my prodigious backside would fit in that aerodynamic marvel, being not so aerodynamic myself. Stepping down into a car maybe not so cool for transporting grandma around – going to need a engine hoist to get her back out again, though it looks small enough you might be able to tip it sideways and let her crawl out.
    I think this is a vehicle for the young and the slim – and more power to them. I hope my new pressure clothing works then I too can pilot one of these low altitude jets to work and back.

    • renaissanceronin October 19, 2009 at 8:52 am #

      When I first saw this, I immediately thought of flying through the canyons on a Ducati with a “full wrap” fairing… ๐Ÿ™‚

      And, having spent most of my life living “at altitude,” I’ve seen what a deer (or worse, an elk) can do to most passenger cars or trucks. The size of this lil beauty may just be an advantage. Not only is it highly maneuverable, there’s less to hit! ๐Ÿ™‚

      And while I’m suffering from “middle aged spread,” I’d still pry my butt down into that cockpit, to pilot this thing around, just for the sheer joy of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Let Grandma travel around in her land yacht… If those old rich geysers can drive around in their flashy Corvettes and Ferrari’s, then I’ll just have to settle for a Volkswagon.

      But if my wife finds out that I’m cruising and looking for Halle or Selma Hayek… well, I can use that back seat to hold a big supply of twinkies, because she’ll lock me in it, in the garage!

      Hey, a guy has to eat! ๐Ÿ™‚

      (Sigh!) By 2013, I’ll probably be far too senile to drive anyway, drat it! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


  1. I’m dreamin’ of screamin… | Cars.... - October 16, 2009

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