Wood was once a commonly used material in cars, but these days you’re more likely to find a wood car in a toy box than a garage. Not so the “Splinter,” a high-performance sports car that a team led by Joe Harmon has spent five years creating. The exotic machine is powered by a Chevrolet LS7 engine and other than that and the drive train, gauges, fasteners, tires and rims, the car is made almost entirely of wood composites.
Harmon started the project as a grad student at North Carolina State University and said the Splinter was a result of his lifelong love of automobiles and his desire to use wood in ways that would push its perceived limitations.
“It has been a dream of mine to design and build my own car since I was a kid. Wood provided an additional challenge that we thought might move the project into an interesting direction,” he explained.
What makes the Splinter particularly unique among other wooden cars is that it was designed to look and feel like a performance machine, as evidenced by its LS7 engine, which was chosen because of its lightweight and compact design. With an 8-throttle-body intake manifold, a camshaft ground specifically for this project, and a custom-built cross flow exhaust system, it kicks out a claimed 700 bhp (522 kW).
A six-speed manual transmission, and six-piston caliper brakes up front and two-piston calipers in the rear complete most of the critical non-wood parts of the vehicle.