World records exist as a way to document and encourage human greatness, but people seek glory in some truly mind-boggling ways.
As a kid, I was hooked. I felt simultaneous wonder and disgust while learning about the world’s longest fingernails. I could not understand why someone would think to attempt the record for “most watermelons smashed with the head in one minute.” And seeing my mom’s reaction while watching a news segment on people trying to set a record for eating hot dogs was priceless.
There are about 40 different Guinness World Records including watermelons and more than 2,000 involving hot dogs. There are even more involving cars. From a record for the hairiest car (a Fiat 500 covered in 120 kg of natural hair in Italy), to longest time kissing a car (76 hours), and fastest motorized hot tub (it went 84 km/h), the list is endless.
Here are 10 of the craziest automotive-themed world records.
Longest Journey in a Coffee-Powered Car
There’s a lot to brew over here. In 2010, someone drove a 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco that was modified to run on coffee 337 km from London to Manchester in the U.K. It reached a speed of 96.6 km/h and achieved a coffee economy rating of 1.6 km (1 mile) per 56 espressos. That means they burned through approximately 11,795 espressos, just like me on a Monday morning! If you’re curious to see how the coffee-powered VW worked, there’s a diagram here that sort of explains it.
In 1986, a man in Burbank, Calif., set the world record for the longest car, a 30.5 metre (100 ft) limo with 26 wheels, two engines, a helipad, a putting green, a king-sized waterbed (this was definitely the late ‘80s), and a swimming pool with a diving board. Because it was so long, it was designed so that it could bend in the middle to, you know, actually turn. The limo was based on a Cadillac Eldorado and was fabricated by Jay Ohrberg, who also modified the DeLorean in Back to the Future and created KITT from Knight Rider.
Sadly, Guinness says the Limo is languishing in storage, but in 2015, Ohrberg started a Kickstarter to beat his own record and build an even longer limo. That campaign only got one backer who pledged a paltry $42 of the $200,000 goal.
Most People Crammed in a VW Camper Van
Fifty (50!) people were stuffed into a Volkswagen van in 2015 in the U.K. Done during a time when social distancing was just a thing I did as an introvert, it’s jarring today to see a photo of a bunch of awkwardly contorted people crammed into a tiny space. Guinness specifies that this is a classic model of the VW van, which makes us wonder how many people could fit into a new one. If you look at the photo, some people are smiling, but I’m certain there are many people in that van who aren’t very happy at all.
Most People Crammed into a Smart Car
Cramming 50 people into a van is pretty impressive, but stuffing 20 cheerleaders into a tiny Smart car sounds near impossible. Seating even two people comfortably in a Smart car can be a challenge, but 20? A claustrophobe’s nightmare. Two cheer squads actually hold this record. The Glendale College Cheerleading team set the record in Los Angeles in 2011 and the Comets Cheerleaders matched it in 2014 in Italy. Luckily, cheerleaders are likely a lot more limber than the rest of us.
Smallest Roadworthy Non-Production Car
They say things are bigger in Texas, but the Lone Star State is where the world’s smallest roadworthy non-production car was measured and the record verified in 2012. It measured 63.5 cm high, 65.41 cm wide, and 126.47 cm long and looks like an itty-bitty Jeep. With a vanity plate reading “IM BIG,” the car has a half-gallon fuel tank and can hit speeds of 40 km/h. To make it roadworthy, it had to have such features as a federally approved safety glass windshield, windshield wipers, DOT-approved headlights, turn signals, a seatbelt, and a working horn. The little car is painted like a vintage military plane and its creator, Austin Coulson, made it pretty much from scratch.
Fastest Speed for a Car Driven Blindfolded or Blind
Mike Newman is a blind race car driver and actually holds seven world records, according to his website. In 2014, he drove a modified 1,000-hp Nissan GT-R up to 322.96 km/h at Elvington Airfield in Yorkshire, U.K., becoming the fastest blind man on land. Newman was alone in the vehicle and was getting guidance via a radio.
Fastest Car Window Opened by a Dog
This one happened in our own backyard in Quebec City in 2004. Striker, a border collie, holds the world record for fastest time a dog has unwound a non-electric car window. Striker used his nose and paw to crank the window down in just 11.34 seconds. Striker’s human must have done a lot of training to get him to do this, and I wonder what else this good boy is capable of.
Most Times Hit By a Car in 2 Minutes
Dietmar Loeffler was hit eight times by a car in two minutes in Cologne, Germany, ON PURPOSE. The Guinness website and the rest of the internet is frustratingly short on details for this record, which was verified in 2007. I need to know: Was he hurt? Perhaps on drugs? Has anyone else been in the frame of mind to attempt to break this record? I have so many questions.
Most Motorcycles Driven Over the Body While Laying on a Bed of Nails (2 Minutes)
Dietmar Loeffler thought he had a unique record, but then this happened. In 2015, Jason Thomas, a.k.a. Burnaby Q. Orbax, set this insane record in Vancouver, B.C., by having 70 motorcycles drive over him while lying on a bed of nails. Definitely a “don’t try this at home” situation. Thomas was a physics professor at the University of Guelph at the time and the Monsters of Schlock (a duo of entertainers he’s half of) actually holds at least 22 world records. The previous record for this (if you can believe someone else attempted this) was 31 motorcycles, but Thomas managed to surpass that in just a minute and complete his record run in just one minute and 40 seconds.
Fastest Motorized Log
Our last odd automotive world record was set by Canadian Brian Reid Sr. on the set of HGTV Canada’s Timber Kings in 2016 for the world’s fastest motorized log. The log, which was from a western red cedar from B.C. that dates back to the year 1776, managed to travel 76.625 km/h at a motorsports park in Arizona. The log car took more than 3,000 hours to build and weighed about 1,000 kg.
Source: Guinness World Records