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MAX Update No. 94: FrankenMAX

8/6/2012 2:23:35 AM

Tags: MAX, 100 mpg, streamlining, fuel economy, nose, Jack McCornack

“What kind of car is that?”

Hmm. “That’s a long story…”

The best description came from a stranger waiting for the ferry with me, who said “It looks like an Elva crashed real hard into the back of a Lotus Seven,” which is not far off, except for the crash part.

094GreyNoseIt’s been over a month since the streamlined nose came off MAX and began its one-way trip to the fiberglass shop. That nose has been shaped and smoothed and braced and flanged and painted and waxed and sacrificed to the mold making process, and it’ll be the end of August before the first new nose comes out of the new mold (which is currently under construction). The MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Seven Springs, PA, is coming up in September, and I’ve got plenty to do to get ready (roof, doors, and windshield come to mind) but I’m not hiding in my garret — MAX is taking its first international excursion this weekend. So I needed a temporary nose replacement that wouldn’t take much time or effort.

Good thing I hung on to MAX’s Prisoners of Petroleum body parts from Escape From Berkeley, so I could cobble something together. I think it’s fair to call the result (cue the creepy organ music) FrankenMAX!


I’ll be crossing the world’s longest undefended border in an hour, and it’ll be MAX’s first boat ride — we’re on our way to the Vancouver Island Sevens Meet; the annual Western Canada get-together of … of cars that look kinda like MAX looked in its first year on the road. They’re called Sevens because their inspiration is the Lotus Seven of yesteryear (wow, it’s been over half a century already); they’re light, small, and they go like stink thanks to their spectacular power to weight ratio and no thanks to their disastrous aerodynamics. It was 665 miles from the Kinetic Vehicles shop in Cave Junction, Oregon, to the Black Ball Ferry Terminal in Port Angeles, Washington, which was enough miles and hours to remind me of a couple features of Ye Olde MAX, which are A) it really is an aerodynamic disaster, and B) when you’re driving a Seven, you’re not driving a car, you’re driving a parade float.

As for A), MAX was pretty good when it first had its Seven body, and the streamlined body made it even better, but I didn’t know in my heart how much better until I put the old nose and front fenders back on the chassis. I’m sufficiently spoiled by the new body that now when I drive with the old body, I feel like I’m driving through high fructose corn syrup.


And as for B), there’s something about the small size and pug nose and swoopy fenders that makes Ye Olde MAX terribly cute and friendly. People like MAX, people like to take pictures of MAX, people like other people to take pictures of themselves with MAX, and I like taking pictures of people taking pictures of people with MAX (such as these two sisters on vacation who shared the ferry with me). I don’t think MAX is a good car for introverts, but if you like talking with strangers (or as Will Rogers called them, “Friends I haven’t met yet”), you can’t get better bang for your buck than if you Make Your Own MAX.

Photos by Jack McCornack 

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Jack McCornack
8/19/2012 4:04:10 AM
Hi Neil, I know of three under construction and there's a "MAXine" going together with a Geo Metro engine. I've been pretty dang conservative about saying Good Enough to Replicate, but finally did so at the beginning of the month--see the Make Your Own MAX page at I didn't have serious doubts about hitting 100mpg, but I didn't always think it could be done for ten grand retail. That was a challenge.

Neil Larkins
8/17/2012 5:26:39 PM
Jack- Sure have enjoyed this "ride" these past years. Gotta admit, I had my doubts you'd achive that 100 mpg figure, but you did! Question: Any idea as to how many have successfully reproduced your efforts, or if not that, how many have tried?

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