Tanks away: US company to sell handcrafted ‘luxury’ tanks

Still from YouTube video/Howe & Howe
Off-road enthusiasts with money to burn will soon be able to buy luxury vehicles based on an actual military tank. Lacking armor or weapons, the civilian vehicle will offer speed, luxury and ability to go just about anywhere.

Dubbed the “Ripsaw Extreme Vehicle 2” (EV2), the vehicle is described as a “handcrafted, limited run, high end luxury super tank” by its maker, Howe & Howe Technologies.

Originally designed and built for the military as a high speed super tank, its base platform the ‘Ripsaw’ proved to be the fastest dual tracked vehicle ever developed,” the company said. The civilian model is geared towards “extreme off-road recreation” enthusiasts.

Founded and run by twin brothers Michael and Geoffrey Howe, the Maine-based company designs special tracked vehicles, from the police “Swat-Bot” to the Ripsaw and its amphibious cousin the Riptide.

The EV2 model appears to be based on the demilitarized MS2 design, capable of accelerating to 60 mph in less than four seconds, with a maximum speed of 80 mph.

These vehicles take up to 6 months to fabricate and can cost well into the 100s of thousands depending on desired luxury and performance packages,” the company said.

The Ripsaw was originally developed as a “ground drone” for use by the US military. While the first model was exclusively robotic, the MS2 was designed with room for a driver. The 4.5-ton vehicle was built around a lightweight tubular chassis, with a 6.6 liter Duramax diesel engine generating 600 horsepower and 1000 ft/lb of torque.

A fully loaded MS2 can accelerate from 0-50 mph in 5.5 seconds, and has a top speed of 60 miles per hour. Able to traverse 50-degree gradients and 45-degree slopes, the military model of the MS2 had an estimated cost of $250,000 apiece.

If the civilian Ripsaw looks like something that just drove in from a science-fiction set, that’s because it actually did. A modified Ripsaw chassis was recently used for one of the vehicles starring in this year’s summer blockbuster “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Howe & Howe says the EV2 has been in the works since 2013, with “thousands of man hours” invested on adapting the vehicle for the high-end luxury market. It will reportedly have the same 600-hp engine, gull-wing doors, a high-intensity light bar, 12 inches of suspension travel, a power winch, and a luxury interior. The exact price tag will vary depending on the desired modifications, and production may take up to six months.

Meanwhile, the US Army is continuing to test Ripsaw MS2 as a remote-controlled Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV), hoping to remove vehicle operators from harm’s way. While the use of aerial drones is a recent phenomenon, the “ground drone” technology has been around for quite some time. The Red Army used radio-controlled “teletanks” in the early years of World War Two.