Story by Steve Temple

Photos by Francois Bota, Hemponair

Seems like what’s old is new again, as shown by the aptly named Renew Sports Car. You see, back in 1941, Henry Ford unveiled a car partially made from plants; marijuana plants that is, since steel was in short supply during WWII. And he always had an interest in helping American farmers, too.

This same line of thinking inspired Bruce Michael Dietzen of Renew Sports Car to create a Miata body conversion made from the same material. Affectionally called the Cannabis Car, it’s a “reincarnation of the first-generation Miata, with an incredibly durable body made of carbon-negative cannabis hemp.” Just how durable?

Well, Ford demonstrated the strength of his car by beating on it with a rubber-tipped sledge hammer, which pretty much just bounced off with no significant damage. Dietzen uses his fist instead to demonstrate the cannabis body’s tenfold increase in dent resistance, he claims.

He also points to the environmental advantages of using hemp as a body material, since it’s nearly carbon neutral. That’s because the raw material consumes CO2 during its growth process. And that aspect is not limited to the body.

Dietzen toured the country last year, running his car on a second-generation biofuel made from agricultural residue, just like Henry Ford’s car did, proving once again that cars can be nearly carbon neutral if they are made and fueled by plants. While the car shown here has an original 130 hp Miata engine, an electric version is currently under development as well. For performance enthusiasts, the car can be fitted with either a turbo or a Chevy LS engine from Flyin’ Miata.

Typically licensed and insured as modified Miatas, Renews are not available in kit form. Hemp is not as easy to work with as fiberglass or carbon fiber, and 800 hours of labor go into making one.

This “marijuana Miata” is a proof of concept, but it’s already created quite a buzz (sorry, but we couldn’t resist including at least a couple of hemp puns). So Renew is looking for a suitable manufacturer to assist with high-volume production — and has no objection to working with cannabis, of course. Somewhere, Henry Ford is smiling with approval, knowing his was right all along.