“Necessity,” it has been said, “is the mother of invention.” These unique and strange vehicles came about when people needed solutions and all they had were some old cars and a lot of ingenuity.
- Coco taxi (Cuba)
- Jeepney (Philippines)
- Mini Moke (Bermuda)
- Tuk Tuk (Thailand)
- The Pope Mobile
Almost spherical and looking like giant coconuts, these bright yellow taxis scoot around Havana all day. The body is made out of plastic and fibreglass, and provides a canopy for the passengers. This is then pulled along by a 75cc two-stroke petrol engine, the same thing used by small motorcycles.
American troops left surplus jeeps when they left the Philippines at the end of World War II. These nondescript vehicles were soon modified, lavishly decorated, and used to ferry passengers around.
Sir Alec Issigonis designed a vehicle that would share the Mini’s parts, but have a more rugged, more durable body suited to a light military vehicle. However, the wheels turned out too small and the body too low to be of practical use in off-road conditions. The Mini Moke eventually found its place in beach resorts, earning a cult following in the Seychelles, Australia, the US, and the Caribbean.
Thailand’s three-wheeled cabs started off some 60 years ago when people attached a rattan chair to a bicycle. During the 30s, the design was modified, and a motor was added to the bike, and the result looked more like a rickshaw. During the 60s, a three wheeled Japanese transport vehicle was imported, and got the name “tuk tuk” because of the chugging sound of its engine.
The “Pope Mobile” is the name given to a number of specially-modified automobiles used by the Pope to greet crowds. The current version is a Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV outfitted with a special bullet-proof glass-enclosed room.