The Crazed, Inspired Vehicles of Maker Faire

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The Crazed, Inspired Vehicles of Maker Faire


A plethora of homemade vehicles will be at the 10th annual Maker Faire Bay Area. Get your tickets today!

There are so many amazing ways in which Makers express themselves in their making. From ingenious electronics to useful crafts to gorgeous works of art, making takes myriad, often hybrid forms.

One of the most consistently offbeat and entertaining forms of makery that proudly parades itself around Maker Faire each year is the alternative vehicle, whether human powered, internally combusted, electric, or otherwise motivated.

I wrote a piece for the “Welcome” column in Make: Volume 11 (expanded in my recent book, Borg Like Me) that explains my first eye-opening encounter with the vehicles of Maker Faire:

One of the things that really strikes me about Maker Faire is the impressive diversity of attendees (think: Burning Man bohemians and steampunk cosplayers meet Harry and Harrieta Homeowner). The Make: ethos really does appeal to an extremely broad range of people. The staggering diversity and creativity were also evident in the vehicles that freely circulated throughout the fairgrounds. After the end of the first day of the 2007 Faire, when the announcement came over the loud speakers that the faire was closing, my son Blake and I hobbled toward the benches along the main thoroughfare of the grounds and we just sat there — aching, exhausted, stunned into a vacant kind of tired silence. Nearly unable to move, we watched as a quiet parade of bizarre vehicles began to float past us on their way towards the exits. It was the most insane, and insanely great, fleet of conveyances I’ve ever encountered: all manner of odd craft, from electric bikes and cars, to pedaled recumbents, homemade Segways, a solar-powered motorcycle, and a guy riding a motorized unicycle while holding a regular unicycle in front of him as a second wheel. And then there was the chariot pulled by a Roman centurion robot, and a covered wagon pulled by two robotic horses. It was so surreal, so ethereal, it felt like a dream, if your dreams were designed by Salvador Dali and engineered by Rube Goldberg.

Here’s a little parade of Faire vehicles from the past 10 years to give you some idea of the diversity they take and the joy of making that they celebrate.

It’s good to be reminded of just how much hard work and passion go into building the creations that come to Maker Faire. In that vein, here is a video tour, by our pals at Tested, of the mind-bogglingly cool Nautilus Art Car from the 2013 Maker Faire Bay Area.

What always strikes me about the art Makers who come to Maker Faire is that they don’t do it for money, fame, a practical purpose, or for any other reasons other than it’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s rewarding to collaborate with others and share your creations with the world, and because it’s just damn cool.

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Come to Maker Faire Bay Area, May 16 & 17, and see what crazy creations vehicles join in this years parade o’ whimsy.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn