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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

World's fastest hot tub turns an old Caddy into a Carpool DeVille


The Carpool de Ville
The Carpool de Ville
"Land yacht" has always been an automotive insult reserved for the full-size American luxury cars of the '60s and '70s that assumed size was synonymous with luxury. A 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 was a full two feet longer than the biggest SUV Cadillac will sell you today, which is why they mostly served as limousines and hearses.

 Today such dimensions seem absurd — unless you're a group of young engineers dreaming of turning one into a world-record setting hot-tub time machine.

Of course this kind of insanity began in Canada, where McMasters University engineering students Phil Weicker and Duncan Forster first (drunkenly) took an abandoned '82 Chevy Malibu and combined the two great pleasures of driving and hot tubbing.

 That car survived long enough, and won enough acclaim around Canadian auto circles, to merit an invite from the Southern California Timing Association to run at Bonneville Salt Flats — something the duo and friends never could accomplish.

But a dream this powerful never truly dies. In 2008, the duo acquired a crusher-bound '69 Coupe DeVille, and began a six-year odyssey of restoring the car, transforming it into a working hot tub and building it to specs suitable for land-speed racing.

 Yes, the engine warms the water. Yes, they can fit a rollcage in there. Yes, there are hand controls because you can't work pedals underwater.

As far as they've come, the Carpool De Ville team has yet to reach its goal of hauling water to the desert. They've turned to Kickstarter to solicit donations for the final $10,000 needed for transporting the Carpool and other speed-related costs.

 It's not a project that will change the world, but the Carpool DeVille demonstrates that in the right hands, those old land yachts can still make you want to come sail away.