Growing up, Phoenix-based Austin Coulson was always fascinated by all the cool automotive records he found in the yearly Guinness Book of Records, and dreamed of one day having his name mentioned in the famous publication. He recently got his wish, after building the world’s smallest roadworthy car.
29-year-old Austin Coulson says he developed a passion for tinkering with mechanical stuff very early in life. As a young boy, he used to ride bicycles with his friends, and always fond some parts to add or remove. When he turned 16. Austin bought his first car, a Bronco with a blown transmission. So he bought a repair manual and learned from scratch how take the thing apart and put it back together. It wasn’t easy, but he got the hang of it and he’s been building custom cars ever since. Two years ago, he saw a small go-kart with a car body on it, that made it look like a real miniature roadworthy vehicle. It got him thinking whether someone could really build such a small car and make it street legal. It also reminded Austin about his life-long dream of having his name in the Guinness Book of Records, so he started searching to see if there was already a record for the world’s smallest street-legal car. A guy from England held the record, but after seeing his creation, Coulson thought to himself “I can beat that”.
Photo: Guinness Records
Austin builds custom cars for a living, sometimes even piecing them together from scratch, so his friends and family had no doubt about his ability to build the world’s custom car, but they were skeptical about getting it approved as roadworthy. Coulson agrees building the vehicle was the easiest part of the project. The body came from a 57′ Chevy Bel Air mockup, which he cut to fit over the frame he built himself, from scratch, and added the engine, transmission and drive-train from a street-legal quad. His little beast ran great, but he still needed to add a whole list of features to actually make it roadworthy. He somehow managed to get a custom 3-inches by 9-inches safety-glass windshield installed, headlights, taillights, turn signals, rear-view mirror, seat belt and even a functional horn. It took a while to get everything straightened out, but after going through Guinness’ strict approval process, Austin Coulson finally became the new record holder for the world’s smallest roadworthy car. His contraption measures 63.5 cm (25 in) tall, 65.41 cm (25.8 in) wide and 126.47 cm (50 in) long.
Although it’s not the world’s most comfortable car, Austin loves to take his tiny vehicle out for a spin every once in a while, just to turn people’s heads. He says most often people ask about the fuel mileage, since its reduced size makes the car seem super efficient in that department. Coulson says the fuel tank has a capacity of just half-a-gallon, and that the last time he checked fuel efficiency, it was about 45 miles per gallon. Because the record-setting buggy is classified as a a low-speed vehicle, it can only go on local roads marked for up to 25 mph, but Austin says it goes as fast as 33 mph. It might not seem like a lot for a normal car, but its maker says riding this thing at top speed feels like you’re doing 100 mph. Since it doesn’t have any suspension, the ride can be a little scary.
Sources: Guinness Records, USA Today