MAX Car 107: Showing Class at the Maker Faire

Reader Contribution by Jack Mccornack

Congratulate me! I drove MAX south of San Francisco about a month ago to the Maker Faire Bay Area and won the Maker Faire Editor’s Choice award for our class. What is our class, exactly? That’s hard to say. It’s sure not the Amazing Vehicle class, because we were outclassed numerous times on that front; every time I turned around I’d bump into an amphibious dragon boat or a high speed cupcake or a steampunk submarine…or a 25-foot-tall mechanical octopus shooting gouts of flame from its tentacles.

Maybe there was a Street Legal Vehicle class, but probably not—conformity to standards is not a strong motivator at the Maker Faires (note the “e” in Faire) so I doubt we’d get our own class for dotting the Ts and crossing the Is as required to get a license plate.

I know I didn’t get it for workmanship, either. The guy right next to me, Nick Jenkins, had a car he’d built from scratch (with a number of Kinetic Vehicles body and hardware parts, I’m proud to say) that looked a lot like MAX looked in its Escape from Berkley trim…or a lot like Dave’s MAXine which attended last year’s Maker Faire Bay Area…except Nick’s car looks like it rolled off the showroom floor and into a restoration shop, and from there to a museum where curators applied bugs to the headlights to give it a simulated “used” look. It’s a work of art in the old-school sense of the phrase, whereas Dave and I (and the guys who built the octopus) subscribe more to the how-soon-can-we-get-this-on-the-road aesthetic.

DIY Philosophy at the 2014 Maker Faire

Compared to MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS, the Maker Faires draw folks who want to see stuff more than who want to learn stuff, and while Maker Faires are indeed a celebration of the Do It Yourself philosophy, it seems the majority of the spectators came to admire DIY from afar. And though MAX was generally well received, a surprising (to me at least) number of people thought I was trying to pull something over on them with my claim of 100 MPG on the freeway. One guy grinned and said, “You must really baby it.” No, sir, when I baby it, I get 120 MPG.

So maybe I won the High Fuel Efficiency Vehicle class, but fuel efficiency isn’t a huge motivator at the Maker Faires…wait a minute, that’s not completely fair (or faire, as the case may be). They do honor efficiency, and efforts to make our world greener, but art for the sake of art is honored as well. Since many of the objects d’art are huge and flamboyant (a word one rarely gets to use literally) they get well-deserved attention, and only a nitpicker such as myself would note that, for example, a flaming octopus typically runs through 200 gallons of propane a day. To quote Butch Cassidy, A small price for beauty.

The curiosity is killing me, so I’ve emailed the organizers for clarification of MAX’s class. I’m guessing it’s something like Non-Flaming Vehicle Under Six Tons but I’d like to know specifically.

Photo by Jack McCornack

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