In 2012 a trio from England decided to prolong their childhood and created a car which immediately won the hearts of all car enthusiasts within and outside Great Britain due to a combination of its hilarious cartoon exterior and the surprising “grown-up” power. The project turned out to be so self-sustainable that eventually it was followed by the second model and modification of the first one.
Engineering and construction: Tom Armitage & David Taylor. Pilot: Ben Rushforth. Home base: Leeds, Great Britain. Home track: York Raceway, East Yorkshire, UK.
Tom Armitage (25 years old), David Taylor (32) and Ben Rushforth (30) from the British city of Leeds turned the children’s supermarket ride activated by coins into a real Hot Rod which easily leaves behind such supercars as Porsche 911 GT3 RS and Aston Martin V12 Vanquish during the drag runs.
Let us begin with the origin of this idea. First 9 episodes of the British animated family series Postman Pat were screened on BBC in 1981. Its title character Patrick “Pat” Clifton with his black and white cat Jess drove the red van delivering mail to the citizens of Greendale town and helping them in various difficult situations. The red Pat’s van was drawn basing on a BMC/Leyland Sherpa, had "Pat 1" on its license plate and was decorated by the Royal Mail symbol. The Royal Mail gave the programme makers permission to use their official symbol right after the beginning of the series (however, in 2000 Royal Mail discontinued its official permission).
Children loved Postman Pat so much that the shops started selling red toy vans and mounting Postman Pat Van coin-operated rides. A machine like that, or its body frame to be exact, was used by Tom and David to create their “Fastest Postman Pat van in the world”.
The entire trio — Tom, David and Ben Rushforth, who was invited as a pilot, — were interested in drag racing since early childhood. And as their parents were fond of racing, each of them visited their first race at the York Raceway being only a couple of weeks old. The idea of creating an unusual and funny drag-van emerged in 2010. Everything got rolling in the middle of 2012 when the frame of the coin-operated machine Postman Pat Van was purchased on eBay’s Internet auction at the price of £250. David and Tom designed and built Pat1 all by themselves in their garage without raising any fuss over the project.
Here’s how the Postman Pat Van coin-operated ride looks like:
The empty body frame was mounted on the small Funny Car chassis so that it could fit a pilot inside; the construction was equipped with a 500cc single cylinder 4-stroke motorbike engine. After that all these 33 kg of the boys’ dreams were taken for a test drive to the home track at the York Raceway in August 2013. At first, it looks rather funny to see this toy car start having difficulties with keeping it straight. But then you realise how fast this red van moves. Watch a small video with one of the van’s first starts and then we’ll add a few figures.
Run held at the Shakespeare County Raceway in September 2012:
Here are the figures. The wheelbase of the van is 39” (a bit less than a metre). During the very first test Postman Van Pat1 accelerated up to 96.51 mph and covered the ¼ mile distance in 14.5 seconds! These results gave ground to believe that the van can easily reach the speed of 100 mph and hit 12 seconds. With this purpose Tom and David invited a team from Wizards Of NOS to install a nitrous oxide system which could double the power produced by the engine.
In January 2013 the ¼ mile results achieved by the Postman Pat Van were 13 seconds and 100 mph. You can watch a video of this run made by a camera fitted on the van:
By May 2013 the cooperation between Tom and Wizards Of NOS led to fantastic results and Pat1 started pitting against fully-featured vehicles. On May 27 Pat1 accelerated up to 102.49 mph at the York Raceway.
Watch this video to see the red “mad stool” easily leave a 5-litre Mustang behind. Pat1 covered the ¼ mile distance in 12.5 seconds without using nitrous oxide.
Pokerstars Drag and Drift on the Isle of Man:
September 2013 became the moment of glory for Tom, Ben and David. Official representatives of the Guinness Book accepted the world record and gave Pat1 the title of the Fastest Coin-Operated Ride with 101.36 mph speed demonstrated at the York Raceway (¼ mile in 12.01 seconds).
Here’s a photo of happy Ben holding the official certificate brought to the York Raceway on September 22, 2013. Tom doubted they could have achieved such results without Ben’s great driving skills. Moreover, Ben is very sociable and cheerful and is just the right person for public appearance while Tom and David prefer staying in the background and dealing with the technical details.
Guinness World Records 2014: FASTEST COIN OPERATED RIDE
Record: 163.12 km/h (101.36 mph)
The postman Pat had 8 different means of transport in the cartoon series, including motorbikes and an airplane. So there is definitely plenty of room for further achievements. In our next article we will tell you about the Postman Van Pat2 and the team’s plans for 2014.
Photo: projects website and adimages.co.uk