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The Wonderfully Delicious World of Carbecues

Forget sous vide or molecular gastronomy, you haven’t lived until you’ve used a motor vehicle to grill out on

It’s the week of Fourth of July. And while we appreciate you being here, we really hope it’s from some stretch of sand or some body of water relaxing enough that your problems can be put on the same kind of ice as the booze in the cooler next to you. If not, throw on your shades anyway, and join us for our weeklong package, “Life’s a Beach,” a celebration of all things sand, sun and summer. Of course, if you’re already on vacation, you’re welcome, too — just be sure to reapply another layer of sunscreen, as these pieces burn bright. Read all of them here.

A carbecue does very little to hide its tasty, ingenious intentions from you. In fact, it’s exactly what it sounds like — a car upon which you can barbecue. 

Check it out:

The man or woman who first discovered this kind of fire is lost to the hands of time, but there are undeniably two types of carbecues today. For starters, there’s a car-BBQ, or a barbecue grill that’s been upcycled from a car, like so:

There are even restaurants to this end — e.g., if you live anywhere near New Buffalo, Michigan, hit up the Wood, Stock & Grill. It’s a BBQ spot known for its “award-winning rib tips” and features a VW Bug as the grill.

Then there’s a car-becue, or a car that you can still drive that can be used as a barbecue as well. For instance: 

As an interesting side note, it was actually Henry Ford who invented the charcoal briquet. He was on a camping trip with fellow inventor Thomas Edison and his cousin-in-law Edward Kingsford, when, while trying to light a fire, the idea came to him. His factories used a tremendous amount of wood, and all the leftover waste bothered the frugal industrialist. In a flash, though, he came up with a use for it –– a new campfire starter. 

And so, when he returned home, Ford had his sawmill workers gather up each and every neglected scrap of wood and minuscule piece of sawdust and had it “pressed into lumps held together by tar and cornstarch.” Boom! The charcoal briquet was born. 

Anyway, if the carbecue strikes your fancy, you can certainly DIY one for yourself. It’s easier than you think, and there’s plenty of inspiration over on Pinterest and tutorials on YouTube.

But you don’t necessarily need to be a wrench-turner to have your very own carbecue. Custom-made jobs can be found on Etsy; they will, however, set you back about half the cost of a used car. 

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, there’s an outfit called Carbecue that makes luxury model retro carbecues for stylish cookouts. Their work certainly looks beautiful enough. 

While we’re considering the international market — admittedly, though, it doesn’t seem very ‘Merican to have a car-BBQ made from a French subcompact car — there’s a car-BBQ builder over in China who’s created a BBQ that you can drive and play as a piano. See for yourself as he plays Chopin’s “Fantasie Impromptu,” while driving his car-BBQ-piano around his workshop with skewers of meat rotating and sizzling over the open flame:

Look, it may not be ‘Merican, but I can’t think of anything else that better exemplifies the freedom of imagination, which is where all other freedoms begin anyway.