Trick your ride: tank conversion

If wheels aren’t your thing you should really consider this tank-tread retrofit. It comes with two ramps so that you can drive your car up onto the tread platform. At first we thought this worked by chaining the vehicle’s frame to the tread frame and transferring power through a tread-mill interface. That’s not the case, it seems the transmission needs to be disconnected from the wheels and joined with the tank mechanics. Don’t miss the video antics after the break.

[via Digg]


  1. HIrudinea says:

    Now that’s what I call a strap on! Looks like the stearing is done by breaking one tread, they must hook the front wheels up to a breaking system. So when will these be in stores, traffic jams piss me off!

  2. jim says:

    not to mention the braking system of the car needs to interface with the tracks. there’s plenty of ways to do this, but not many easy ones

  3. Adam Ziegler says:

    Awesome, but what a hard ride.

  4. Icarus says:

    why have wheels when you can have tank tracks!

  5. jasoman says:

    In Soviet Russia car turns you into a tank.

  6. Nick says:

    I can see a serious roll-over risk because the center of gravity is so high. It helps to remove the car tires like they showed on the ones zooming around in the weeds.

  7. Alexander says:

    Actually, what it looks like is that the steering is disconnected entirely (the wheels do not appear to move at all) and they are instead directed to brake one of the treads depending on which way the wheel is turned.

    I almost want one. I have 3′ of snow here, and I am sick of all the stupid truckbillys here laughing at my Civic getting stuck in parking lots. XD

  8. Daniel says:

    They are “sno-cat” tracks. Strictly for loose surfaces.

  9. nubie says:

    That is amazing, do want for my 89 BMW 325i ;).

    I am amazed that Matracks are out there, but this hasn’t caught on yet.

    Assuming you are converting a full-frame truck you could do it as a bolt-on kit with a less substantial frame, which would cut down on the weight, also you could lose the original suspension, like those two in the video.

    Neat, that is a cool vehicle.

  10. teck monkey says:

    i want i want i want i want…does any one have a work up yet?

  11. svofski says:

    @Alexander, they say that the steering is “coupled” without going into details.

    Whatever they’d do instead of just building decent roads.

  12. Brillobreaks says:

    What kind of car is that? The little white one?

  13. - says:


    give me some rims, neon, and make it bounce.

  14. spray190 says:

    damn that looks like a good idea… shame i would need my class H to drive with them in england… bloody english motoring laws :(

  15. Paul says:

    Pretty sure that white vehicle (the one that doesn’t have any regular wheels when it’s installed on the track frame) is a Lada Niva

  16. bfo says:

    @Brillobreaks It’s “Lada Niva” :)

  17. The Ideanator says:

    Hot damn! Where can I acquire these? I bet someone could make a crazy cool robot hack with one(or more?)

  18. Alan says:
  19. Paul Potter says:

    Pure awesome. I would love to do that with an old Lada Riva for the pure fun of it.

    Handy for the snow we’ve been getting here in the UK.

  20. zacdee316 says:

    I need one of these, I’m tired of this damn snow.

  21. Brad Traver says:

    Same deal but for the snow! Crazy Russians

  22. Fred says:

    @Alexander: Snow tires will work wonders, if you haven’t tried ‘em yet. In addition to more aggressive tread, the rubber’s softer so they don’t harden up in the cold. My otherwise hapless Civic’s pretty tank-like with some Nokians on the rims.

  23. markii says:

    pimp my caterpillar :)

  24. lovely says:

    Kinda of clever but pretty simple idea.

    With the vehicle at the start you can see the axel stands, that support the rear of the car. When you load the car on the tracks, you would support the rear (RWD) or the front (FWD) on the axel stands, then then remove the tires, and mount a pulley or chain drive (on each side) to the hub that runs the tracks.

    For steering and breaking you need to have a separate braking system on each track. Which is why there are two master cylinders shown in the video, one for each track. If you apply braking to one side of a diff the other will spin faster. Thus you have steering, if you brake both sides you have braking :P

  25. Alan Parekh says:

    Now that is exactly what I am looking for in my next winter vehicle! I could even settle for a set of these.

  26. DustySeven7 says:

    Mattracks are made in the use can give your vehicle tracks in 30 min. they have tracks for ATVs also. And the best part, no major modifications are done and switch back anytime, just 30 min job and you have tires again, but why would you want tires once you have tracks. Tracks are way better, never have to worry about getting a flat.

  27. Andrew says:

    If you look closely, you can see that this works by disconnecting the cars drive shaft, and reconnecting it to the tanks transfer box. Which means rear wheel drive cars only. The reason they do this, is that to steer a tank, you need to break one of the tracks, which you obviously can’t do if you are using a cars differential to power it.

  28. Agent420 says:

    I’ll wait until the Top Gear review…

  29. nubie says:

    @ Andrew

    I think you could do this with an open differential, braking one wheel causes the other wheel to keep spinning.

    I think they did it so you only need one connection and can leave the wheels on.

  30. fartface says:

    @Alexander if you learned how to drive in snow and had real tires you would not have that problem. I drove a Geo Metro in northern michigan for 3 years… 3 feet of snow is what we get overnight.

    I had real snow tires, and went places the truckbillies could not. (Up icy hills for example)

    4 wheel drive is for girly pussies that have no driving skills.

  31. Gilliam says:

    @jasoman: this is for when in Soviet Russia road tries to fork you, you fork back!

  32. supershwa says:

    Crazy Russians…

  33. wdfowty says:

    Al Gore’s gonna have a fit about this one…

    I was kind of hoping Xibit would pop out to say “Yo dawg, yo ride just got MILITARIZED!” XD

    lol @agent420, I’m waiting for the same. I can’t wait to see what crazy stunt they’ll try to pull with these beasts!

  34. Alan says:

    It is a Lada Niva, didn’t they have a PTO?

  35. Ninja says:

    @ DustySeven7
    To answer your question. I live in Minnesota and have worked right next to the Mattracks factory. The reason you would switch back to tracks in the summer or out of mud is because your $*,*** tracks are much more expensive than rims/tires, and you are limited to around 40 mph in a regular motor vehicle.

  36. Miska says:

    And if you ran tracks during the summer in Minnesota, the treads would be destroyed in a mere matter of HOURS due to our poor roads. But really, don’t they make Jeep Wranglers for a reason? I believe a full tank platform is a little overkill.

  37. Apothus says:

    They are impressive.

    Would be more useful if they could be stowed ontop of the vehicle in a roof rack system and could be deployed when needed. Im sure we could really use that on some parts of our journey.

  38. Saf says:

    That is fun lol, wonder what it would be like coupled to a high power sports car like an r34 skyline… Super tank me thinks rofl.

    Why the Russians though of this first… Oh well could come in handy in the next Georgia war as cheap ass troop transport I guess. Cost of APC = few million, cost of one of these, a few thousand plus the poor civilian whos car is conscripted for mother Russia haha. Not to mention a normal tank car would probly get you 30mpg easy, APC mostly give you 1-5mpg…

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