- Steve Braithwaite of Kalamazoo, Michigan, built this Big Banana Car out of a Ford F-150 pickup for reasons clear mainly to him. He was pulled over by a state trooper at 7:30 a.m. recently as he headed out for a long road trip to Texas.
- Not surprisingly, Braithwaite was not speeding in the bananamobile, but possibly the cop wanted to make sure it was street legal, as local newspaper MLive suggested.
- Braithwaite told the paper his license came back—with a $20 bill wrapped around it. At that point Braithwaite did what his license plate says and “SPLIT.”
UPDATE 4/29/20: Matchbox is selling a Kalamazoo Big Banana Car toy, which you can order from various sellers on Amazon.
There are cars designed to attract attention, and then there’s the Big Banana Car. Steve Braithwaite, originally from the U.K. and now living in Michigan, started out with a 1993 Ford F-150 4×4 and, with the help of the Mutant Brothers fabrication studio, has turned it into this rolling replica of a giant banana. In it, he tours around the United States, giving rides to kids and appearing at fairs and the like.
It’s just the American Dream turned slightly sideways—a less commercial variant on the time-honored Wienermobile. What’s interesting is that a state trooper gave it the seal of approval in the form of a $20 bill. MLive reported today that Braithwaite, heading out on another 1400-mile road trip to Texas, was stopped early Sunday morning by a curious state trooper on U.S. 223 near Adrian, Michigan. After he shared a few colorful stories of his cross-country drives, and the cop no doubt ran his plate (which reads: SPLIT) and found no problems, he gave Braithwaite back his license wrapped in a $20 bill and sent him on his way.
Braithwaite told C/D that the Banana Car has a 1994-vintage 302-cubic-inch Mustang engine. On his most recent trip, he calculated his fuel economy at 13.3 mpg, “but I think the sign board on the back caused a lot of drag”; he usually gets closer to 15 mpg. He told us that the Banana Car “has reached a top speed of 85 mph (although the speedo only goes up to 85 so it might have been more).” According to the Mutant Brothers’ website, the conversion took about two years and cost $25,000, with some of the elements used being reinforced steel bars, chicken wire, and sculpted polyurethane foam covered in fiberglass.
Braithwaite proudly notes that the Banana Car, at almost 23 feet in length, made it into Guinness World Records as “the longest custom banana car in the world (however, because it’s the only banana car in the world, it’s also the world’s shortest).”
That $20 bill may have come in handy, because by the time Braithwaite reached Bowling Green, Ohio, 150 miles down the road, he needed to “completely” rebuild his carburetor, MLive reported. But the man himself told us he intends to donate that money to charity.