Mow your lawn, Mister?


Just what is a Briggs and Stratton lawn mower doing on a car page? The oil crisis in the 70’s looked like bringing forth petrol misers, and in the USA, the government really started to panic. To get over this sort of problem, the government did what governments do all over the world – throw money at the problem and it will go away.

The generous handouts from Uncle Sam attracted the Briggs and Stratton who had ideas of a hybrid design, using their own two cylinder coupled with a battery engine.

Whilst this seemed new, it wasn’t really. In 1902 Dr Porsche produced the Lohner Porsche with four electric hub motors and a small internal combustion engine to charge the battery.

Briggs and Stratton had done this exercise before in 1920 but it didn’t take off. So here we were again in 1980, and fuelled with a chunk of government money they came up with a car called the Hybrid, long before Toyota.

This had 12 car batteries in the rear and the twin cylinder engine up front. Two rear axles were needed to support the weight of all the batteries, so it was a six-wheeler.

In the two cylinder mode, it would do 80 km/h. With both battery and petrol it could struggle to 110 km/h. However the batteries would go flat in 50 km and took all night to recharge.

It was described by Car and Driver magazine as “what you get when you mate a garden tractor with a golf cart.”