Phil Weicker and Duncan Forster can't decide whether their invention is a hot tub or a car, but they are determined to drive what they call the world's fastest hot tub to the finish line.
The two McMaster University graduates have launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring Carpool DeVille — a fully functioning and mobile hot tub in a 1969 Cadillac Coupe DeVille — to a speed racing event in Utah in August.
“We just had to do it,” Weicker told CBC News. “We just had to go 100 miles an hour in a hot tub because it’s never been done before, because we think we can.”
Carpool DeVille features a custom-made fibreglass tub inside the Cadillac that can hold up to 5,000 pounds of water. The crew kept the vintage car's original engine, which not only would propel the tub to its record-setting speed, but also heats the water to a relaxing 39 C.
The Caddy's trunk houses all the pool essentials, such as the pump, the filter, and the overflowing tank. A marine throttle that combines shift control, gas and brake is mounted on the driver's door.
The quirky — if not outlandish — feat is almost two decades in the making. Carpool DeVille is a polished version of a prototype the crew built as engineering students at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., in 1996.
Tub on wheels parties
Perhaps not surprisingly, it all started with a keg of beer.
While living at a student house, the two friends were left with a 1982 Chevy Malibu, abandoned by a subletter who didn't pay rent.
“We took the car and, over a keg of beer, someone made the joke, 'I wish you could make this into a hot tub car.' I heard that and was like, 'That was a great idea,'” Forster recalled.
With the help of their friend Alex Saegert, the young engineers cut off the roof, installed a tub and mounted fins made out of tin foil on the rear — and it turned out to be an atrocity.
“It leaked and it barely ran,” Forster recalled. “It was just hideous.”
Nonetheless, the boys went on to host hot tub parties, many of them in the middle of winter, on and off campus. The tub on wheels became a mobile social hub, attracting eyeballs and bodies along the way.
“You’d see the car parked on the front lawn of a house, there’d be snow all around it and there'd be steam coming out of the car,” Forster described. “We’d be sitting — five or six guys — in the tub, drinking beers and laughing.”
Friends that soak in Carpool together stay together. After graduation, both Weicker and Forster wound up in Los Angeles. Weicker, now 35 and originally from St. Catherines, Ont., works as a battery engineer at an electric car company. Forster, 38 and originally from Caledonia, Ont., is exploring a career as an independent filmmaker.
They jumped on a chance to recreate the Carpool and its former glory when they came across the dilapidated Cadillac in 2008.
“Yes, it certainly is ridiculous that people would hang on to a ridiculous idea like this for so long, but it just would not go away,” Weicker said.
The team is asking for $10,000 on crowdfunding website Kickstarter to let their brainchild race during Speed Week, an annual event taking place on the famous Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, where thousands of car enthusiasts converge every year to set speed record on the flat, long course in the basin.
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The funds would cover the costs associated with getting Carpool DeVille race-ready, such as renting trucks to move it from a nondescript warehouse east of Los Angeles to northwestern Utah, some 1000 kilometres away. Other costs include fuel, safety gears and race fees.
If Carpool DeVille successfully makes its debut at the race, it would be recognized as world’s fastest hot tub.
They said they expect Carpool DeVille to travel at "freeway speed."
"It will go as least as fast as a 69 Cadillac would go," said Weicker "I'd like to see triple digits. I'd like to see us doing 100 miles an hour. There's really not that many places we can test it. We won't know until race day."
If the Kickstarter campaign raises enough funds, the crew said they would like to invite some current undergraduate engineering students from McMaster to be part of the spectacle.
Both Weicker and Forster praised their alma mater for fostering an environment where students are encouraged to experiment with their hands and minds.
“[McMaster] is where this all started. We felt like there should be some linkage between the past and present,” Weicker said. “That was a very formative time in both of our lives where the notion that something this ambitious and ridiculous could be attempted.”
With eight days left as of Thursday, they have raised just over $4,000.
Why are they doing it?
“Because we can!” the Kickstarter campaign’s FAQ section answers the question.
No, seriously. Why?
“If they can make the Real Housewives of New Jersey, we can definitely make the hot tub car.” Forster said.