Man creates 'street-legal' bumper cars

San Diego man working on 10th project


SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The bumper cars Tom Wright is remodeling are making him feel like a kid again. However, it wouldn't be the best idea to let kids get behind the wheel.

[PHOTOS:  Man creates 'street-legal' bumper cars]

For the past 15 years, Wright has turned old bumper cars into street-legal vehicles capable of driving alongside normal cars and SUVs on the highway.

Wright's original plan was to remodel one bumper car and put it in the middle of a room in his San Diego home as a piece of art. However, the rush and enjoyment he gained from the work was too much to stop.

"It's a fun hobby that got a little bit out of control," Wright told KFMB-TV.

Fifteen years later, Wright has fixed up nine bumper cars and is working on his 10th project.

Wright turned his first bumper car into a 1950s yellow hot rod with flames and chrome finish. He has since created several themed bumper cars, including a police car, a woody wagon and a military car with a survival knife as a gear shift and a machine gun hood ornament.

Wright's current project is a taxi-themed bumper car with an early-1900s meter.

The street-legal bumper cars are powered with Yamaha and Kawasaki engines, enabling Wright to drive up to 50-60 miles per hour. One of Wright's cars reached 132 miles per hour on a dynamometer. However, Wright prefers to drive much slower.

"Anything over 50 is beyond scary," Wright told KFMB-TV.

Wright has received multiple offers to buy his bumper cars. However, he says he has no plans to sell them.

"Got too many hours and busted knuckles putting them together," Wright said. "It's a full-time job keeping them running but that's my hobby. In retirement, that's what I'll do -- keep them running."