Where there’s a will there’s a way
The next time you complain about how inconvenient driving a manual car can be sometimes, imagine trying to do it with one leg only. Cancer fighter and leg amputee Ben Van Wert shared an inspiring story over Facebook earlier today (May 19,2020) showing how he rigged up a hand throttle on his turbocharged 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS so he could accelerate with one hand and still engage the clutch with his other working leg, all with old bike parts he had lying around.
Check out his handiwork below. I’ve provided a screenshot of his post with a link to his full post here. I would’ve embedded the entire thing but I know how sensitive advertisers are to that one “f” word.
“Since I lost my leg because of cancer one of my favorite fun cars is a 2008 HHR SS turbo 5-speed manual, kinda hard to drive with one leg, so I made a hand throttle completely out of bike parts I had lying around! Works great and burn outs for days!!! Didn’t hinder the original pedal so Anyone can still drive it. Necessity is the mother of invention. I am now more than ever inspired to build a universal unit that can adapt to almost any car. “
Ben does not go into the details of his cancer but presumably losing a limb was a necessity to stem the tide and increase his chances for survival.
Ben easily could’ve switched to a life of automatic-cars only since automatic drivers only use one leg for accelerating and braking, but automatic cars wouldn’t do. Like many manual enthusiasts will attest to there’s a sense of control and connectedness you have with the engine that adds an analog touch automatics can never fulfill.
Also, it’s supposedly more fun.
A quick once-over of his work reveals just how clever his setup is. Instead of stomping on a pedal to actuate the throttle position sensor, his hand squeezes a bike lever, signaling the electronic throttle body the same way his leg would’ve done it. Using his hand to control the throttle, control is arguably better with this setup.
And throttle control is something Ben will need considering the HHR SSis one of Chevrolet’s rowdiest cars, one of several that used GM’s turbocharged Ecotecs putting out 260 HP and 260 lb-ft back in 2008.
Bravo, Ben on beating the odds, kicking Cancer in the a**, and continuing to do what you love despite life’s setbacks.
We can all take a page from Ben’s book.