Like the Tucker automobile of recent film fame, Ed Butcher’s dream machine is a little unconventional. It looks more like a wheeled rocket or a metallic sea creature than a road car, and even the name Butcher picked out for it is different: the Pulse, as, he hopes, in pulsating, pulse pounding and pulse quickening.
“The Pulse is a real attention-getter,” says the smiling farmer-high tech entrepreneur from rural Michigan, stepping out of his supersleek vehicle. “When you drive a Pulse, you’ve got friends, whether you want them or not. At red lights, windows roll down and people talk.”
In answer to the first question those people usually ask: Yes, the Pulse is a car, sort of. Actually, it is an autocycle that seats two. It has four wheels, one in front, one in back and one on each of the two outriggers (the outriggers provide balance when the vehicle is standing still or turning). The Pulse’s other vital statistics: Its top speed is 130 mph, it gets up to 65 miles per gallon, and its base price is $15,000.
Butcher, 42, got involved with the Pulse four years ago, when he and five partners formed the Owosso Motor Car Co., with Butcher as president, to build a revolutionary auto. Like Preston Tucker before him, Butcher has had his share of difficulties marketing his novel notion. There were problems with the design, and when the money ran out, his partners left too. Butcher filed bankruptcy proceedings in 1986 and is now seeking new financing. So far, he has sold only 315 Pulses, each of which has to be hand assembled. But ever the optimist, Butcher is hoping Owosso will soon grow out of its red barn headquarters in Corunna, where its staff of eight can build just one car a week. And just like the Tuckers, Butcher and his wife of 21 years, Sue, have a set of wheels they truly believe in. “The Pulse is a love machine,” says Butcher proudly. “People love it. Why, even a homely guy like me can pick up women in one.” Glancing at Sue, he adds quickly, “Of course, I don’t.”