Star Wars Car that Never was: Obi-Shawn’s Custom Z-Wing

Star Wars never had cars. Sure, there was the Landspeeder, and the Speeder Bike, but both point to a lack of wheels a long time ago. So those who want to drive around a Star Wars craft are left to their own imagination to come up with one. This is exactly what [Obi-Shawn], aka [Shawn Crosby], did to build his Z-Wing.

The Z-Wing is a modified Nissan 350Z which he picked up used on Craigslist. Owning the thing outright is important, since he’s about to chop it up and spit it out like a picky Rancor. But it also left him with some extra cash to use on the modifications.

This isn’t just a paint job; the sides of the car boast sets of blasters, R2D2 is riding in the trunk, and the inside looks and feels like a cockpit. We really like the external components, which are clever reuses of common goods. For instance, the hub caps are pizza pans and the blasters are baseball bats. The greebles (thanks to our own Brian Benchoff for bringing that word to our consciousness) on the trunk lid are made up of all kinds of items, like interesting-looking portable speakers, and even a Star Trek computer mouse.

The interior is decorated with a hologram projector prop (currently Boba Fett is on speed dial), and a spot over the glove box for a light saber and tablet computer. The shifter for the Z-Wing is a gaming joystick and just above it is a really juicy piece of custom work. It’s a 24V artificial horizon. This is a common flight instrument that makes the pilot aware of an airplane’s orientation to the earth. Obi-Shawn converted it to work with a weight. So taking fast turns, stopping, or accelerating all affect its orientation.

The steering wheel is another interesting customization. The top portion has been cut out and thumb buttons added to the ends. This looks and feels very much like a sci-fi control yoke. Right now the buttons are for show but his plan is to connect them to strobe lights on the side blasters.

The newest addition to the Z-Wing are a pair of motors on the back. These really came together well considering the source material. The cone is a flower pot, the partitioned cylinder which lights up red is a carousel from a slide projector, and the blast shields are iris control gears. This kind of assembly is indicative of early Sci-Fi movies and is a tribute to the thoughtfulness Obi-Shawn used in his build.

Camped out on the trunk lid is a faithful reproduction of R2D2’s dome. It spins freely, and has been stolen a few times. Usually getting it back just involves a walk around the neighborhood until the knucklehead that is carrying the thing around is spotted.

Obi-Shawn has been doing this for a long time. In fact, this is his second build, the first used a Honda Del Sol. That had to be retired when the mileage climbed too high. He spends a lot of time going to events for charities like Children’s Hospitals. This is in conjunction with the 501st, the Rebel Legion, and the R2 Builder’s club. A showpiece like this would be wasted sitting in his garage, and we’re glad that he spends time brightening people’s lives by showing it off, and letting them sit in the driver’s seat (like Hackaday’s Jasmine Brackett is doing above).

But even between events you can see it driving around the Los Angeles area. We ran into Obi-Shawn at a Hackaday Meetup in Pasadena. He uses the car as his daily driver and when we found that out, there was a huge contingent who cleared out of the pub and paraded to the parking garage for a tour of his work.

42 thoughts on “Star Wars Car that Never was: Obi-Shawn’s Custom Z-Wing

    1. He’s considerable more secure than on the last car, and hasn’t been stolen from there. He’d ben removed by brute force off the old car by 20-year-old sk8rbois that should have known better. :P

  1. That’d be illegal in most of EU. In case of an accident those gizmos can cause death or serious injury to pedestrian or cyclist. Think first, then act. Hacking is a wonderful activity but it should be done with respect to safety of you and others around you.

    1. then what about that wooden fixture on top of the food concession van from the movie short circuit?

      remember when the van went under a bridge and the sign on top fell off onto the road?

          1. It would fail because the chassis has been radically altered from factory and probably wouldn’t accrue enough points to pass (as a guess, i can’t tell whats under the skin) It would have to go through a BIVA and hope to pass that and run on a Q plate.

    2. And yet (strangely) motorcycles *are* legal in most (all?) of EU. Can you imagine the kind of damage a flying human body can do to a pedestrian or cyclist in case of a motorcycle accident?

    3. I always mod with respect. In my case, as a current bicyclist and former motorcycle courier, I worked with the California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles Police Department to avoid any mods that break the law. The side guns feature lights to call attention to themselves, and large items are either securely mounted or “break-away”. In 20 years of the project, I’ve never had an issue with the mods conflicting with safe operation, even in California, the only US state where “splitting lanes” for motorcycles is legal.

  2. “both point to a lack of wheels a long time ago”: R2-D2 used small wheels under his legs. And, ironically, BB-8 *is* a wheel. I wonder why wheels are good enough for the droids but not for the cars.

    1. Probably because repulsorlift can’t fit inside small droids? R2 did have rocket jets for flying but for some odd reason he never used it once in OT and used it a lot a few decades earlier in NT.

          1. “Or perhaps its cause it was a movie?”: Jack, Jack, Jack. How could you be so naive? Star Wars is an accurate documentary of events that occurred a long time ago in a distant galaxy.

            Well, the original trilogy is, anyway. Episodes 1 through 3 are just crappy stories.

            :-) :-)

      1. There are droids with repulsor lifts. They scale with the weight that is being lifted.
        It wasn’t uncommon in the extended universe, and may have featured on a few of the background droids in the movies.

    1. Someday, when I have the extra cash for it. Unless you’d like to donate to the project; I do 160 unpaid volunteer charity events a year with the car,usually dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi at kid’s hospitals and community events, and would appreciate the help. ;)

  3. Obi-Shawn Crosby is also a talented voice actor and a DJ. He hosts “Docking Bay 94” and “Good Morning, Tatooine!’, both on a sci-fi radio station called Krypton Radio, and plays a leading role in their new upcoming sci-fi adventure series, “Halfway Home: Adventures in the Asteroid Belt”.

  4. Like the idea, kinda like the outcome, but honestly there’s way to many things that are too obviously ‘attached later’, i think it would look much better if he spent an afternoon trying to make things seem more original too the car, now it looks like he just bolted on some random things for 2 weeks and called it done.

    1. The “added later” look is for two reasons:

      Firstly, Star Wars, unlike Star Trek or other space properties, features a universe of cobbled together and jury-rigged hardware like the Millenium Falcon, X- and Y-Wing fighters and other ships. The things I’ve added on have been carefully considered, often mounted temporarily until I get the look I like.

      Secondly, I can only work on the project when I have extra time and funds, so the project has been grown over a couple of years- work one weekend, then not for a while. This is my daily driver, so it needs to be in a functional state at all times and not sidelined, and I use it for a lot of charity appearances which most of my expendable money goes to support.

      When I get my standard Rich and Famous Contract, I’ll plan a completely one out from the ground up, likely using a Tesla chassis and powertrain as a base. Unless Tesla wants to donate a car to the project before then. Elan? ;)

    1. Not the Imperial cog, but the Republic one. The Imperial has six spines, and the republic eight.

      That said, the model for my car was Obi-Wan’s Eta-2 Actis-class interceptor from Episode III. If you view the ship in that film, you’ll notice that both his and Anakin’s fighters foreshadow what we will come to know as the Imperial cog.

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