Rabid Transit, Never Was Haul, a Vast Vase and Other Mutant Vehicles… 11 Years of Burning Man

The Rabid Transit mutant vehicle at Burning Man.
This scary/wonderful creature called Rabid Transit is another creation from the fertile imagination of Duane Flatmo, the same person that brought El Pulpo Mechanico to Burning Man. In fact, Rabid Transit is built on the same Ford chassis that El Pulpo was built on.

Duane Flatmo lives in Eureka California, a short 3 plus hours away from where I live and a million miles away in imagination. Wanting to create a new creature, he struggled with a concept that would live up to his fantastic El Pulpo Mechanico.

El Pulpo

Rabid Transit was his answer. Like El Pulpo, Rabid Transit was created from items gathered at a local junk yard in Eureka. Note El Pulpo’s legs made out of abandoned barrels.

Rabid Transit mutant vehicle at Burning Man
A full view of Rabid Transit. Various animals are situated around the vehicle. Note the sharp toothed fishy hood-head.
A side view of the Rabid Transit mutant vehicle at Burning Man.
A side view of Rabid Transit.
Rabid Transit shoots out fire.
Rabid Transit in full fire! As you might imagine, you can feel the heat and hear the roar.

Never Was Haul comes as a Victorian home on wheels with a cow catcher on the front. (Cow catchers are what trains use to put on the front of their engines to remove cattle, moose and buffalo from the tracks.) Born in Berkeley as part of the steam punk art movement, Never Was Haul has been to Burning Man many times.

Never Was Haul mutant vehicle at Burning Man.
A photo taken of Never Was Haul by Tom Lovering. When Tom first saw the mutant vehicle, it was love at first sight.
Photo of Never Was Haul at Burning Man by Tome Lovering.
Another photo by Tom.
Never Was Haul mutant vehicle at Burning Man closeup.
A close up side view.
Front view of Never Was Haul at Burning Man.
And a front view.

For sheer fun, I’d have to list the large vase mutant vehicle shown below as a top candidate. I was even more entertained when I discovered it changed colors at night.

Mutant vehicle vase at Burning Man.
Settled into camp, this is what the vase looks like during the day time.
Vase mutant vehicle at Burning Man at night.
And here it is at night.
Mutant vehicle vase at Burning Man during twilight.
In twilight’s glow.
Nighttime view of mutant vehicle vase at Burning Man.
And a final night time view.

Several trains have appeared at Burning Man. There has even been a caboose, the Dust Bus, which proudly claims it is part of the Nor Cal Black Rock Railroad..

Train mutant vehicle at Burning Man.
One of the trains, complete with cow catcher.
Side view of mutant vehicle train at Burning Man.
A side view…
Mutant vehicle train at Black Rock City.
Another train.
Burning Man mutant vehicle train at night.
Here it is at night with its cow catcher lit up.

Before trains, people got across the US in Conestoga wagons. The Oregon Trail passes through the Black Rock Desert not too far from Burning Man and would have seen many of these wagons carrying pioneers west, among them, my Great, Great Grandmother.

Conestoga Mutant Vehicle Wagon at Burning Man.
This giant rendition also transported many people across the desert, or at least the Playa.
Conestoga wagon mutant vehicle at Burning Man. A side view.
A side view.
Conestoga Wagon mutant vehicle at Burning Man at night.
At night.

I’ll finish today’s post with four individual mutant vehicles:

Kilroy mutant vehicle at Burning Man.
I’d go with Kilroy, here.
Phone mutant vehicle at Burning Man.
Needs no introduction for those over 40. It’s a phone. (grin)
A brain mutant vehicle at Burning Man.
A brain.
I will conclude today with Walter, the giant VW van from Arizona. I think they used an airport firetruck as its base.

NEXT POST: Peggy’s perspective on our hike on the PCT this past summer.

22 thoughts on “Rabid Transit, Never Was Haul, a Vast Vase and Other Mutant Vehicles… 11 Years of Burning Man

    • Just sent the Australian Burning Man site to you, Gerard. Many of the mutant vehicles return to Burning Man several times. Some of them mutate into different, or at least modified mutants. –Curt

    • The covered wagon relates to your fascination with the Old West, I imagine Andrew. El Pulpo is simply out of this world. I think he was recycled into Rabid Transit in the morphing world of Burning Man. –Curt

  1. I know I repeat myself, but the work at Burning Man is so ingenious! But, you just imagine seeing one of these in your neighbors driveway the rest of the year?! lol

    • Laughing. I suspect that might get the neighborhood a little excited… depending of course on the neighborhood. I don’t expect HOAs would have much of a sense of humor about it. –Curt

  2. Rabid transit [snarf] You know I am going to borrow that term sometime. It just stuns me at how wildly creative people can be. We were in Tuscon a few weeks ago and ran into a Steam-punk convention. Holy-Moly, that was fun!

    • “Rabid transit [snarf] You know I am going to borrow that term sometime.” Seems like it would fit right in to some of your humor! And Steam Punk is just about as wild as it gets! –Curt

  3. I should have expected Duane Flatmo to be part of this spectacle. I lived in Eureka for 7 years and always enjoyed his creations at the annual three-day Kinetic Sculpture Race, where mutant vehicles must be able to travel on pavement, sand, AND the bay waters. His art is instantly recognizeable to me and adorns the label of my favourite beer: Downtown Brown from Lost Coast Brewery.

    • Next time, I buy a bottle of Downtown Brown, I will have to check! 🙂 I’ve always thought it would be fun to attend the Kinetic Sculpture Race. Part of one of Flatmo’s entries to the race was incorporated into El Pulpo Mechanico. –Curt

    • There are very specific rules on the fire spewing, Sue. Burning Man has an expert go over the vehicles to do as much as it can to ensure safety. And yes, their is no limit to creativity, and wild imagination! –Curt

    • 🙂 Never Was Haul is one of my all-time favorites, Juliann. And yes. Your should go to Burning Man. Photos can capture a lot, but there is no way replicate the actual experience of being there. –Curt

    • I would have loved to have had a red one, Annika. All of ours under the old AT&T days were black, if my memory serves me correctly. I’ve always felt that the red phone was one of the more creative of the mutant vehicles. It was guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of people who saw it. Even more so, us old timers. 🙂 –Curt

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