In 1996, Phillip Weicker and Duncan Forster were engineering undergraduates at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.
The pair lived at a student house with a number of other guys. One of the subletters at the house skipped out on his rent and abandoned his 1982 Chevy Malibu at the house.
The rest of the guys at the house were discussing what to do with the car over a keg. They didn’t want to pay someone to haul it off so they decided they were going to cut the roof off and turn it into a fully-functional and drivable hot tub car.
Though at first they didn’t think the idea would actually become reality, Weicker says they were inspired by an Ernest Hemingway quote:
“Always do sober what you say you’d do drunk, that’s the only way you’ll learn.”
The next day, people started showing up with tools, and before long, they had built themselves a 1982 hot tub edition Malibu.
Weicker says after that, the legend took off. The car could be found,
“…parked at parties on and off campus, in the end-zone of the homecoming game, anywhere that good times were being had.”
The car was also one of the prize exhibits at the Canadian International Auto Show in 2001. While there, Weicker and Forster were approached by the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), the official group in charge of keeping land-speed records.
They invited the duo to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah later that year, telling them that if they ran the course, the SCTA would grant them the land speed record for the “World’s Fastest Hot Tub”.
Unfortunately, time was beginning to take its toll on the Malibu. The students were creative and resourceful, but the hot tub car had not been designed to last long-term.
By 2004, time and “undergraduate plumbing” had destroyed the car’s chassis, and it was unable to make the trip to Utah, denying Weicker and Forster their record.
After a number of false starts, the duo was finally able to put together a good team of engineers in 2008 while living on the West Coast. They purchased a 1969 Cadillac Deville to build their new hot tub car.
For the last six years, the team has been preparing the vehicle, working closely with the SCTA to make sure it abides by their strict safety standards. Now, it’s almost ready for its moment in the spotlight.
The designers made the short video below to explain how the “Carpool Deville” works and to promote their Kickstarter campaign:
The first speed records were set at the Bonneville Salt Flats back in 1914- this year marks the 100th anniversary of that historic event.
Weicker pays homage to Bonneville’s storied history on a Kickstarter page launched to help fund the project:
“The Salt has seen its share of streamliners, speedster motorcycles, vehicles powered by electricity, fuel cells, rockets and jet engines. But it’s never seen anything quite like this. Nobody’s ever gone a hundred miles an hour in an open-air self propelled hot tub while sitting neck deep in soothing warm water. We aim to correct that mistake of history this August.”
You can check out the Carpool Deville’s Kickstarter page to learn more about the project and/or help fund it. Though the campaign has already hit its goal of $10,000, some of the excess donations will be used to help pay for current McMaster students to attend the event, “because really, this is about the future”.
You can check out more pictures of the car and learn about the construction process below: