Is the Topsy-Turvy Bus Real?
Yes. The Topsy-Turvy Bus is real. It strolls through the streets of Metro Detroit, inspiring child-like awe at every turn. Its upside-down, right-side-up design inspires people to glance up from their phones and look at things in a new way. It runs on veggie oil, technically known as bio-diesel fuel, collected from local restaurants. The best thing about the bus is the exhaust. Instead of the stinky-bus smell of our childhoods, the Topsy-Turvy bus exhaust smells like French fries or donuts, depending on what was cooked in the oil. Now that’s something we can all get behind.
And it leaves NO CARBON FOOTPRINT.
Take that, Climate Change!
You may be asking why all school buses don’t run on bio-diesel fuel. I ask myself that all the time.
The Mutant Brothers, a two-person team who worked out of Kalamazoo, fabricated the bus with its alternative energy source. They have since moved their operations to other areas. I got the opportunity to meet one of these men when the bus needed some repairs. Steve Braithwaite, busy at work on a new top-secret project, was nice enough to show me around and give me some info on how they created the bus.
Steve and his business partner, Tom Brown, literally took two busses and fused them together. It took six months to get that done. The men had to build a rotisserie-style contraption in their garage in order to flip the top bus upside down. But that was only the beginning. Once that happened, they spent another six months creating the details.
The Topsy-Turvy Bus weighs 14,700 pounds, is 24 feet long, and 13 feet high, with a top speed of around 55 miles an hour.
The original Topsy-Turvy bus, commissioned by Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, had a different message. Created as a political commentary on the upside-down nature of government spending, it was used to draw awareness to the United State’s military spending. But today, the bus carries a different message to a different audience. Its main goal is to provide out-of-the-box thinking to young people. It tackles sustainable energy sources like veggie oil. It even has solar panels on top of the bus ready to charge cell phones. Also available for kids to try is a pedal-powered bike to make smoothies.
The interior of the bus converts into a classroom-style setting with benches and tables. Kids compost biodegradable cups and food scraps after snacking on organic fruits and veggies. There is even a hammock, because all that learning can be exhausting!