Joe Harmon started the journey of building the wooden supercar called Splinter while attending graduate school at North Carolina State University. The goal of the project was to push the boundary on wood’s implied limitation while also fulfilling Joe’s lifelong dream of designing and building his own car. Joe took inspiration from a WWII airplane called the de Havilland Mosquito. The plane was made mostly from wood and was one of the fastest planes in the era.
Most of the wooden pieces on the car is made using composite construction. For example the chassis was built using several different pieces each made from a mold. Then the pieces were trimmed to fit and bonded together using glue or rivets. The body was made from woven strips of Cherry veneer with a balsa core applied over a solid redwood mold. Then the body was infused with resin under vacuum to bold the pieces very similar to how carbon fiber bodies are produced. The wheels were made using Oak veneer inside an aluminum rim. Each wheel consists of 275 pieces.
Powering the car is a 7.0 L LS7 which is expected to produce 700 horsepower thanks to individual throttle bodies, a custom ground camshaft, and custom 180 degree crossflow headers. Originally the Splinter was going to be powered by a twin-turbo Cadillac Northstar V8. I do not know the reason for the change but it could be due to size restrictions or extra heat or complexity the twin-turbo system might have added. The LS7 is connected to a six-speed transaxle.
There is so many great photos of the build process at Joe Harmon Design’s flickr account. You get a much better scope of the project than this article could provide. How many people have designed and built their own car…. out of wood?