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Honda's Mean Mower: Souped-up lawn tractor can top 100 mph

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Honda UK’s Mean Mower can outrun some high-end sports cars -- and, yes, still cut the grass.

“They know we’re capable of design, but this was something outside of our normal line of experience,” said Peter Crolla of Team Dynamics Motorsport, which developed the mower for Honda.

More than a PR stunt, the project emphasized Honda’s credentials as a “sporty brand,” Crolla said. Two zippier cars, the Civic Type-R and NSX, are due out in the British market soon.

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The team set to work overhauling the guts of a traditional riding mower. “It was a massive packaging exercise,” Crolla said, “with a far bigger engine. No one’s ever done anything like this with a Honda mower.”

They took apart one model and then essentially built their own HF2620 Lawn Tractor from the engine out. The Mean Mower features a frame made of 4130 chromoly steel, a 1,000-cc engine, bespoke suspension and ATV wheels. “It was the only way we could make something we would be happy with,” Crolla said.

While striving to create something safe and reliable that met their high workmanship standards, Team Dynamics also aims to break the lawn-mower speed record of 96.5 mph, set by Bobby Cleveland, according to manufacturer Gold Eagle. (Cleveland is the company’s "Engine Answerman.")

Among other noteworthy stats, the 109-horsepower Mean Mower can go from 0 to 60 mph in about 4 seconds -- on par with a Porsche 911 -- and has an estimated top speed of 133 mph. When cutting grass, it gets an estimated 40 miles per gallon.

Crolla said the team hadn’t officially attempted to break Cleveland’s world record. According to a Honda UK spokesman, the roar of the mower was initially too loud for the noise restrictions at British tracks. During testing in France, the Mean Mower registered 130 decibels -- about the sound level of a military jet taking off from an aircraft carrier, according to Purdue University.

Now that the team has modified the sound output to about 96 decibels, standard for a power mower, they plan to take on the world record later this year. “After that,” Crolla said, “we’re ready and waiting for our next challenge.”

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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