Honda clearly realizes the importance of protecting a hard-earned reputation, especially when it comes to high-speed lawn mowers.
Four years ago, the Japanese motor giant impressed both gearheads and gardeners when it dropped a 109-horsepower Honda VTR motorcycle engine into a lawn mower, strapped Top Gear Magazine writer Piers Ward into the driver’s seat, and sent it hurtling along a racetrack. The Mean Mower, as Honda called it, achieved an average speed of 116.57 mph, which is, like, really fast for a grass trimmer.
The insane effort earned Honda a place in the record books, but some time later a team of Norwegian crackpots snatched the record away from it with an even meaner mowing machine using a V8 out of a Corvette. Placing it in a modified Viking T5 mower, the team hit an astonishing 133.57 mph.
Honda is having none of it, and is planning to strike back with a mean mower even meaner than its original Mean Mower. How mean is that?
Partnering once again with touring-car partner Team Dynamics, the all-new Mean Mower will be powered by a 1,000-cc, 190-horsepower engine borrowed from Honda’s SP1 Fireblade sports bike.
Behind the wheel for the record attempt — billed by Honda as “coming soon” — will be experienced karting racer Jess Hawkins, who’s aiming to blast past 134 mph to reclaim the record for Honda. In fact, recent modifications could see the machine hit a bonkers 150 mph.
“This time we have moved the game on considerably to build an incredible piece of real engineering, using advanced design and production techniques and calling upon some very clever thinking to bring the performance and power but still retain the look of the production mower,” Dave Hodgetts, managing director of Honda U.K., said recently. “We’re in testing phase now and everything is looking good, with a top speed of more than 150 mph very much in our sights.”
But how does Piers Ward feel about Hawkins going for the record instead of him? “Frankly, I’m delighted she’s on board,” the former record holder wrote in March, adding, “I’ve simply not taken the necessary brave pills to set this particular record.”
According to Ward, Team Dynamics has moved the engine to the front of the mower for better balance and to prevent wheelies, which, although they might look spectacular, would more than likely ruin both the record attempt and the driver in one fell swoop.
And get this — despite the modifications, the original Mean Mower could still operate as a functional lawn mower, trimming grass at up to 15 mph, about twice as fast as a regular mower. But Ward insists that with Mean Mower II, “there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to mow the lawn at 100 mph.” Now that’s something we’d also love to see.
In the meantime, here’s wishing Honda, Team Dynamics, and Jess Hawkins a safe ride back into the record books.
Updated on July 9: Added information about new speed target of 150 mph.