Hey, you wanna drive into a tornado? You could, if you've got somewhere over US$75,000 to spend on the right vehicle. That's the reserve price on the Tornado Attack Vehicle, which has just been put up for auction on eBay. The armored vehicle was made famous by storm chaser Steve Green, who used it in 2004 to become the first person to intentionally drive into – and survive – a tornado. If you're not the competitive type, you could even just "Buy it Now" for a cool $100,000.
The Tornado Attack Vehicle, or TA-1, was originally built by Jeep to race at Baja California. After five years and over half a million dollars-worth of work, it now sports a 700-horsepower V-8 engine, 16-gauge steel panels coated with impact-resistant polyurethane, and a hydraulic system that allows it to drop its belly to the road in order not to be blown over when parked in high winds. Its windows and wheel wells are protected with bulletproof M10 Lexan, while its windshield incorporates three coats of DuPont Mylar film – just a single sheet is said to be able to stop a .38 caliber bullet.
Although it's no doubt a thrill-seeking machine, the TA-1 was designed primarily to gather data on tornadoes, and therefore also includes two data loggers and various scientific weather instruments.
Green is selling the vehicle to fund his "Walk Into a Tornado" project, which will apparently involve his walking into a tornado ... and yes, he is planning on wearing protective gear, in the form of a "high-impact resistant suit." Just how that suit will protect him from being sucked up into the sky isn't clear, but we're pretty sure he's got that covered.
Steve is also using the sale to draw attention to his plan for harnessing geothermal energy from Yellowstone National Park's caldera.
Not only will the winning bidder get the vehicle, but Green and his storm chasing team will also show them how to use it during a ten-day trip in America's infamous Tornado Alley, at the height of tornado season.
It may come as a surprise to learn that the TA-1 isn't the only vehicle of its kind. The TVN storm chasing team routinely drive their armored Tornado Intercept Vehicle into twisters, as can be seen in some regions on Discovery Channel's Stormchasers TV series.