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Wooden Steering Wheel

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Wooden Steering Wheel

Imagine building an ultra energy-efficient car with wood. All the unconventional Nanyang Venture VI car lacked was a handcrafted wooden steering wheel to complete its design. PABensen had just the answer to that.

Written by Heng Yiwei

Inspiration

Every year, Shell holds the Shell Eco-Marathon Asia competition, challenging young people to design, build and test ultra energy-efficient vehicles.

“Nanyang Venture VI”, or the “Wooden Wonder”, was the brainchild of NTU (Nanyang Technological University) Diesel Car Racing Team in 2013. It was one of the highlights with its sleek body made of marine plywood, mounted on a wooden chassis with a diesel engine and topped off with a unique wooden steering wheel. This was the Wooden Steering Wheel handcrafted by Bensen.

The Wooden Steering Wheel was PABensen’s gift to the NTU Diesel Car Racing Team as a show of support to the student-driven project. Upon learning that the team planned to create a wooden car for the competition, Professor Marziliano was thrilled to assist the team. She introduced Bensen to the team and their supervising professors, Professor Francis Frank Nickols and Professor Ng Heong Wah, knowing that Bensen’s expertise in wood and his guidance would greatly benefit the team.

The “Wooden Wonder” was fitted with a unique wooden steering wheel, which completes the entire image of the car. The Wooden Steering Wheel is created with a single block of Singapore mahogany, which was specially selected by Bensen. To him, the “Wooden Wonder” was a Singapore car, and a steering wheel built of Singapore wood was important. The stylish wooden body, coupled with its wooden interior, made the “Wooden Wonder” stand out among the 133 teams during the competition.

Bensen took close to three weeks to complete the wheel, including throwing in his weekends. Despite the time-consuming process, the crafting of the steering wheel was an invaluable experience to him. It challenged him to plan ahead before embarking on any action. Because it was all handcrafted, he had to think 4 to 5 steps ahead before cutting away a piece of wood or drilling a hole. If he made a mistake, he would have start all over again, which happened twice before he finally succeeded in building the perfect steering wheel.

Bensen is proud to be part of the team that created a meaningful, elegant and functional vehicle. The “Wooden Wonder” was a beautiful fusion of art, aesthetics and engineering innovation, a fundamental value that resonates with Bensen and his works.

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