I'm gonna admit something that will come as no shock to anybody who has met me. I'm not too fond of hippies. There's something about the scent of Patchouli oil, bong water, and Birkenstock leather that gets me frothing. I think "hippie tetherball" would be a perfectly acceptable pastime and that it should be illegal to wear wool socks with open-toed footwear.
But regardless of my distaste for the subject, sometimes my work as an automotive journalist requires me to set my convictions and prejudices aside and don the hat of an impartial reporter. so, with the exception of the above diatribe, I'm here to tell you about a new company founded by a pair of self-described miscreant hippies who plan to stick it to the off-road man by catering to his very weaknesses: cheap Jeep parts.
Bio-bodies founders, brothers Piral and Losof Yorituck, came to the U.s. from the Netherlands as kids. Their parents, immigrants from estonia, ran a small coffee house in Amsterdam before coming to the United states. Apparently, coffee isn't the only thing on the menu in an Amsterdam coffee house because, by the time the brothers became teenagers in their new home of Washington state, they had acquired a sizeable taste for marijuana. Hold on-we'll get to what this has to do with all-natural Jeep tubs and body parts.
The boys had a large marijuana grow operation on an acre of land in the middle of nowhere. They used a couple old flatfender Jeeps to access the area and tend to their crop, which turned out to be just a little more than they could claim as personal use. so, when the sherriff's department came calling unexpectedly one day when the boys were setting up a new irrigation system, the courts weren't too sympathetic. sentenced to 13 years each, the brothers only served 18 months in jail before an ACLU lawyer got the case thrown out due to a technicality.
Jail must be a pretty boring place because Losof says that he used to wile away the nights thinking about driving his Jeeps and replaying his favorite movies over and over in his head. It was while replaying one of his favorite movies, Cheech and Chong's Up in smoke,that he came up with the actual idea for the new company. In the movie, stoner pals Cheech and Chong wind up driving a van made entirely of marijuana across the U.s.-Mexico border. Losof figured, "Why not find a way to make a hemp car legally?"
Once out of jail, Losof started researching environmental methods and processes to make his vision a reality. After contacting a few other sympathetic hippie communes, he secured a steady supply of bio-diesel byproducts and a legal source of hemp. Piral became pretty adept at woodworking during his time in jail thanks to a wood-shop rehabilitation program, so he began making negative molds of their drug farm Jeep's body out of hardwood, with which they could shape their body tub segments. They experimented with several designs and concoctions before coming up with a process they claim works just as well as any aftermarket fiberglass tub.
Losof perfected a mash blend made of soybean and corn husk byproducts from biodiesel production that are finely ground and boiled to an oatmeal-like consistency. A few proprietary natural ingredients are added to make the mash sticky and harden properly, and then hemp fibers are stirred in. The hemp fibers give strength and rigidity to the mixture, much like rebar does for concrete or fiberglass does for resin. This all takes place in a big kettle over an open fire in the middle of the brothers' former grow field.
Once the mixture comes down to about 165 degrees, it's poured out into the molds and smoothed and pressed just like fiberglass. Although they initially tried to make the tubs in a single piece, the rudimentary pouring and cooling process resulted in a lot of imperfections and uneven panels. so Piral made up 10 separate molds: one for the rear, two for the rear quarters, two for the front quarters, one for the cowl, one for the firewall, and three for the floor. After the separate panels that comprise the body tub are dried and cured, they are laminated together using hemp strips and natural resins into one solid unit.
Until the brothers' patent is granted they don't want any photography of the tubs to get out, so we were only allowed to shoot photos of their two drug farm Jeeps. We can tell you that the bio-bodies are pretty fugly. There were only two completed and they had a bumpy, gnarled texture to them that sort of reminded us of birch bark. The color is sort of a barf beige and tan, and the tub wall thickness appeared to be just shy of an inch thick. The tub rears are one-piece with no tailgate, and there is no dash. The Yoritucks suggest building a wooden dash to house gauges. There are resin-coated hardwood reinforcements in the tub floor and where the body bolt mounts go through the tub. At this time the brothers are working on windshield frames and hood and fender kits. They have no plans to make a grille.
The brothers are planning on coming to market at just $500 for a complete tub, which will ensure that even some folks will buy some. Windshield frames are slated to be $75 a piece, with the hood and front fender kits priced at $120 for the three pieces.
The Yorituck brothers claim that it takes about half that cost to produce the pieces. To secure a non-profit status and benefits, the company will donate any proceeds to the ACLU and sierra Club. several off-road clubs and organizations are currently in the process of trying to get the company's business license pulled, citing unsafe working conditions, code violations, and whatever else they can think of to prevent any revenue strain from reaching the pockets of these two opponents of off-road liberties. We're not really in the business of trying to quash any new company startup, but it seems to us that supporting bio-bodies isn't the brightest thing an off-road enthusiast can do for the health and longevity of the sport. We'll bring you an update on bio-bodies' patent application and the pending legal brawl in next month's dispatch section.