Seattle-based designer Douglas Varey builds vintage-inspired go-karts using re-purposed materials, electric motors and good old frugal ingenuity. His most recent creation, aptly named "Austin Boulogne," is an impressive addition to his collection of designs. The racer was inspired by the fleet of cars used in the 1923 Boulogne GrandPrix - the most important light car race of its day - by the England-based Austin car company.
The Austin Boulogne is made out of FSC-certified Okoume marine plywood and is covered in Xorel from Carnegie, the most sustainable, verified textile on the market. The ultra-light plywood and Xorel keeps the car running super light while maintaining a high level or durability. The car is powered by a 48V 5KW BLDC electric motor with sine wave controller and a Lithium battery pack.
Inhabitat asked Varey how he became inspired to build eco-friendly go-karts. “I got into building the cars as a relief from the generally tedious specification cycle of contract lighting… I have pursued the projects almost entirely on my own and so, am forced to get to use a lot of different skills — some familiar, many entirely new. The vintage inspiration adds a layer of interest and perhaps a touch of nostalgia for simpler times. They are an absolute blast to drive so when finished they are more than an object. The fact that they are driven fast in a wide variety of conditions raises the stakes on quality and engineering.”
Varey works with lighting company Resolute, which focuses on sustainability. “That approach naturally carried over into my personal work. I built the first car with/for my daughter when she was 11/12. I have to give her credit for pushing me into electric,” he said.
“I caught the bug and embraced the synergy of our daily word of electronic lighting and cutting edge electric power. The story is long and twisted, but over two years, the Austin evolved to the point you see in the photos.”