A man named Steve Smith phoned me up, some months back, as he was putting together an automotive event for Fourth Street in Berkeley. "Will you bring your Sparrow?" Sure, I said. And by the way, if you can get the Crucible's biodiesel motorcycle to show up, that would be sweet, I told him.
He did.The Crucible has custom built a BMW engine-based biodiesel motorcycle. They are setting land-speed records with it.
This Cushman Packer never set any land-speed records, to my knowledge, but it has nearly the same wheelbase and plan as my Sparrow!
The Sparrow was, of course, great fun for young and old alike. I totally made this one woman's day: she had wanted one of these since before she could drive, and sitting in it, she positively glowed. Her husband, I could tell, wasn't super comfortable as she continued to gush, "Oh! This was my very first love!" Don't worry, dude, she goes home with you and your lovely daughter, not with me and my car.
I've been going to these shows for a couple of years now, and there's been a marked shift in the conversations I get to have. Then, it was all about how a 25 mile range car that cost as much as a "real" car was a foolishness. Now, people are seriously considering what they can do to reduce their impact on the planet; how can they design their lives so they have the flexibility they really need, without over-consuming?
The hydrogen economy debacle is finally getting some of its hype and marketing punctured, which is amazing (and gratifying!) to me; regular folk are aware that any conversion process uses up some of the latent energy in the source stock while creating waste. They know that manufacturing hydrogen from coal is just a shell game, for example, and even producing it from natural gas isn't as efficient as simply burning the natural gas in your car.
The coolest thing is that people are thinking about solar panels on the roof of their homes to power a little around-town car such as the Zenn, and car-sharing or renting bigger cars for family trips or buying stuff at Ikea. Folks, we just may be at our society's tipping point. People are aware that whatever we're looking at now, is probably a transitional step to something more sustainable.