Steam power is not a new concept, but that doesn’t mean people still aren’t coming up with novel uses for this nearly 200-year-old propulsion technology—like using it to drive the Loco Hauk, a Jeep Wrangler converted to steam power by Pennsylvania-based Hauk Designs.
This thing is as outrageous as custom vehicles come: It’s the brainchild of Kenny Hauk, who started out with a 2008 Wrangler that he stretched more than four feet to accommodate a boiler that bumps the off-roader’s weight to something like six tonnes.
We essentially know nothing about steam engines except that they run on steam, so we have little to say about the Loco Hauk’s 1,638-cc four-cylinder engine, whose design is based on a small-block Ford V8 crankshaft. It makes a modest 140 hp but is capable of an earth-rending 2,500 lb-ft of torque.
Hauk left the Wrangler’s six-speed manual transmission in the Jeep, but the engine’s power delivery system means only two forward gears – low and high – and reverse were needed.
The Jeep’s gas tank now holds kerosene to fuel the boiler, which is fed by a 200-litre water tank. While the Loco Hauk can touch nearly 100 km/h, you won’t get far at that speed: filled to capacity, the water tank is good for maybe 2.5 (yes, two-and-a-half) kilometres at a bit less than 60 km/h.
This truck is a beast to behold with its massive 17-inch wheels and off-road tires and the bulk of the boiler giving it serious presence. Our favourite things, however, are the dashboard – which Hauk has turned into something between steam engine and steampunk – and the steam whistle mounted on the driver’s A-pillar.