Fantasy F-14 Tomcat For Sale: 1987 Pulse AutoCycle

This Owosso Pulse AutoCycle, otherwise known as the BD-200, comes from the drawing board of Jim Bede, an airplane designer, and from the manifestation of an entrepreneurial vision of David Vaughn, who brought the fledgling company from Scranton, Iowa (population 528) to the bustling town of Owosso, Michigan (population 14,484) in 1984 where the Owosso Motor Car Company was brought to life, at its peak employing 42 people, making 12 Pulses per week.

This whimsical design turns heads, and apparently, it also makes people do funny things at auctions, more on that below.  Some 347 of these AutoCycles were made, all told, with the bodies and frames handcrafted around the engine from a donor motorcycle.  This particular Pulse is for sale here on Hemmings for $29,900; thank you to Rocco B. for the tip.  The fighter plane mock-up Pulse has its current hangar in Richmond, Virginia.

There have been a number of Pulse AutoCycles featured on Barn Finds, one as recently as February 2020 so these are no real surprise to our dedicated Scotty Gilbertson readers.  The distinction that makes this one a bit more fun, of course, is the fighter plane markings.  Who could blame the owner for such a paint job?  The thing looks and feels like a jet fighter cockpit with its sliding canopy and with a pointy nosecone! In this case, the added tail and fighter markings make the whimsy all the more believable. Reports found online indicate that kids and more notably slightly more mature fully grown adults frequently are caught hanging out of their car windows passing by one of these.  The fighter jet paint scheme enhances that reaction to seeing such an oddity especially if the Pulse driver decides to wear a “bone dome” and visor when the wife’s not looking.

Our featured Pulse has a fuel-injected 650cc engine of unknown make and the posting states it has an automatic transmission; often the donor motorcycle’s gauges are incorporated into the dash design of the finished Pulse. Many owners bought the Pulse with a Honda Gullwing 1,000 cc or 1,500 cc engine with four forward speeds and electric motor-powered reverse.  We can’t confirm whether there is a reverse with the subject car. Admit it–a head-on front shot of this needle-nosed thing gets the “need for speed” juices flowing.

The Pulse was designed with a 120″ wheelbase and uses a full-sized tire front and back, with two 8″ outrigger wheels at the ends of its “winglets.”  It has a three-gallon fuel tank capacity so the cross-Atlantic flight is out of the question. When it’s moving, three of the four wheels are in contact with the ground at any one time, and upon entering a corner, the 1,000-pound weight of the AutoCycle actually cants toward the side opposite the turn, unlike a motorcycle where the driver leans into the turn.  There are reported problems of overheating with the motorcycle engines enclosed and not liking that for long periods of time.  Many Pulse/LiteStars that have sold note very low actual miles–not sure whether that is attributed to the annoyance factor of people taking pictures and yelling out their windows all the time, for the overheating issue, or the ultra-rarity so “we-dare-not-wreck-it” syndrome.  It may not be so fun to drive in the rain, on an ultra sunny day (cabin could get toasty), visibility in the snow could be an issue (not to mention handling), and grocery shopping is kinda out except maybe for the single can of cream of mushroom soup run.

This is NOT a photo of the subject AutoCycle, but we wanted to show the engine location and the rear suspension with the cowling removed.  Pulse/LiteStars are registered as three-wheel motorcycles and owners report no real trouble getting insurance or their vehicles registered.  There is a tight-knit group of owners trying to locate all of the 347 Pulses made and they have been successful to track more than 200 so far.  They hold frequent rallies (well, not 2020 so much) and owners stated in interviews that replacement parts are not that hard to find for the motorcycle engines but body parts are a little more difficult, not impossible, to find (remanufactured) or to have custom made out of fiberglass.  There are at least three owners who have converted their Pulse propulsion to all-electric. If the original Owosso entrepreneur Mr. Vaughn weren’t 94 years young, electric propulsion may have just been the trick to make this a viable and sellable AutoCycle.  Remember the Isetta?  Yeah, yeah, sort of an “Isetta” meets “Tesla” thing.

As noted in most Pulse/LiteStar articles, actor Michael J. Fox arrives in the not-so-distant future, 2015, in “Back to the Future II” and one of the first things he sees is a Pulse driving by–a tongue-in-cheek filmmaker’s representation of Transportation of the Future.  The high watermark for sale of these vehicles came in 2018 where Pulse #91 sold for an eye-popping $40,700 at Mecum’s Kissimmee auction.  If you happen to miss buying this Tomcat mock-up on Hemmings, don’t fret–Lot #W105 in the upcoming Kissimmee auction (January 2021) has Pulse #91 with its trailer up for auction.

All righty then, Maverick, here’s your chance–put on your aviators and take an F-14 Tomcat fantasy for a spin. Kinda slowly, but absolutely no chance for air sickness.

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    It’s a crazy vehicle but I think the fun factor would be short lived. I have always enjoyed driving cars that are not popular and enjoy the occasional thumbs up or second glance but the attention this would bring could have the potential to becoming annoying.

    Like 6
    • Al

      Is this like a typical tomcat, where in it backs up to a door and squirts on it.

      Like 16
  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    Plus you’d get tired of telling people that it’s
    not a REAL airplane.
    All it needs is a few of those missile shaped balloons
    tied to the back of it.

    Like 4
    • Juan Carlos Casanas

      Angliagt if people around were you live would ask you if it was a real airplane ✈️ Then is time to move out of the 18th Century and move to the 21th Century.

  3. skorzeny

    I live very near a Naval Air Station in Washington State. This would be appreciated here.

    Like 7
  4. Haig L Haleblian

    I’d feel like an idiot driving this thing in anything but a clown suit

    Like 11
    • Juan Carlos Casanas

      Maybe you are a clown 🤡 and don’t know yet

      Like 2
  5. Eddie Hinman

    Great for Parades , some business or name of pilot license school on it ?

    Like 1
  6. Dusty Rider

    The clown suit wearer is the one coming in.

    Like 50
    • Al

      Wood half bean better with a Libertarian.

      Like 5
    • Mountainwoodie

      Poor Dusty.

      Did you get a degree from the exiting clown suit weare’rs ‘university’?

      You should get your money back. :) Then buy this.

      Like 4
  7. Bill McCoskey

    370zpp and Dusty Rider,

    The Barn Finds rules are stated directly below where you write your comments, please note that the first words are:

    RULES: No profanity, POLITICS, or personal attacks.

    Like 34
    • Steve Clinton

      370zpp, Al, and Dusty Rider need to be turned in and banned. I’m sick of politics and the only place to get away from the baloney is on car blogs.

      Like 29
      • robert semrad

        Good thing you don’t carry around a noose…..sheesh…..ease up.

        Like 4
      • Phlathead Phil

        I read this numerous times: “RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don’t post your car for sale in the comments.”

        And yes this is a “Car-Forum.”

        Like 2
      • Bill McCoskey

        Phil,

        Yep it’s a car-centric site. Basically what this is indicating is that the vehicles featured here [and are for sale] have already been listed for sale elsewhere. If you want your car featured here for sale, the site owners have indicated you need to contact them about featuring your car for sale, not by using your comment to create a “for sale” ad.

      • Al

        Steve,
        It’s a pity you don’t understand “Tongue in Cheek”.

        You just might find life to be more enjoyable.

        Like 11
  8. Justin

    That dash is from a Suzuki Bergman. So this is actually powered by a scooter not a motorcycle…

    Like 4
    • Oldog4tz Oldog4tz Member

      Exactly, the “650 auto” description narrowed the possibilities.

      Like 2
      • Mike Tarutis Staff

        Tried to contact Seller. . .no response. Wish I could have filled in more info. Sorry, guys.

    • Mike Tarutis Staff

      Glad someone could identify the dash. . .I guess they pretty much used what was available on each hand-made Pulse.

      The seller states there is a 650 cc motorcycle engine [unknown make]. . .a far cry from the 29,900 lbs of static thrust the Tomcat puts out!

      • Bill McCoskey

        Mike T and others here,

        Your comments got me to thinking. I watched a YouTube video from the urban explorer group BWT, where they went to Hungary & found about 80 old MIG21 and Sukhoi Soviet fighter jets, all sitting outside, their engines and fuel tanks filled with concrete so they can’t be used again.

        So maybe some guys on Barn Finds can buy these for scrap, take the basic cigar shaped body & cockpit from each, no mechanicals, wings or horizontal tail flaps, & ship ’em to North America. Once here, get creative by installing what many of you guys want – the legendary LS drive train [engine, trans & rear axle], put a Gold Wing or H-D front wheel & suspension unit for steering, and create a huge version of the Pulse! Those MIG 21 front air intakes will handle a big block radiator with ease!

        Whadda ya think? Am I crazy [don’t answer that]?

        Like 2
  9. Steve Clinton

    Roger Ramjet, your vehicle’s ready.

    Like 4
    • Phlathead Phil

      Snicker, snicker, LOL that’s a phunny one!🤭😆

    • Mike Tarutis Staff

      Bill McKlosky:

      Not sure if you saw last week where our editors have now graduated from terrorizing Honda 70 cycles in a vacant parking lot near the office tower of BF to hopped up go-karts.

      Why’d you have to mention the jet fighters?

      Hope they don’t see your post. . .

  10. i8afish

    Wood half bean? Libertarian college?

    Like 5
    • Steve Clinton

      Luks that whey.

      Like 4
      • i8afish

        Add a sticker saying “I brake for dogfights”. Then give it to Michael Vick.

        Like 4
  11. Slantasaurus

    This better come with a cassette copy of Danger Zone or the deal is off.

    Like 7
  12. Slantasaurus

    This better include a cassette of Danger Zone or the deal is off.

    Like 2
    • Dave

      You can say that again! Oh that’s right, you did!

      Like 1
  13. JerryDeeWrench Member

    With a LS3 that would be perfect for my wife to drive.

    Like 1
    • scottymac

      With a Voodoo, would be perfect for my ex-wife to drive

  14. Jca

    Love it. I think this thing would be huge fun!

    It is much larger than it looks. With a 120″ wheelbase and the amount of overhang it exhibits, this thing is as long or longer than a Suburban.

    Like 4
    • Mike Tarutis Staff

      Probably need to take a Skilsaw to the header over the garage opening to allow for the tail.

  15. Haig L Haleblian

    With his fat ass? Highly doubtful. T minus 18 days and yes I’m counting

    Like 17
  16. Jcs

    I think it’s great, would be huge fun to tool around in!

    Must be a lot larger than it appears. With a 120″ wheelbase and those overhangs, this thing is as long or longer than a Suburban.

    Like 2
    • Jcs

      Barn Finds says I am sorry for the double post.

  17. Howard A Member

    With the outriggers running in the traffic grooves, I’d worry about flat tires running in the “grease strip”. I don’t see anything that would make it not street legal, sure would be an odd way to get around. Another one for the “remorse” pile.

    Like 4
  18. fcs

    Do hope that Jim Bede learned a little bit from designing the BD-5 before he designed this. Not very crash worthy. Its often said that the crumple zone on a BD-5 is the pilot’s knees.

    On the other hand, I guess its not any worse that the two wheeled vehicle that donated its drive train to this.

    Like 3
  19. Captain Flounder

    VFA = F-18. VF = F-14. Still a unique ride that guarantees you get a lot of attention.

    Like 4
  20. Ohio Rick

    Jump on another forum and leave the politics out of this one. We need the escape!

    Like 27
    • Mountainwoodie

      Of course you’re correct. But sometimes……………..

      Like 2
  21. James C Simpson

    I think that its aerodynamics likely evolved around the concept of “lessen effective frontal area” . It probably only needs 3 gallons because it gets 100 miles a gallon. I expect that the aircraft concept was an exercise in aerodynamics, and appreciated for this mostly as a proof of concept. . Still, the Myth Busters have already proven an 18% increase in mileage by simply covering a Pinto in clay, and introducing golf-ball scaled dimples to the surface of the original skin. So, the Emperor’s clothes have a real purpose, no matter WHAT driving around in that clothing’s perception may imply.

    Like 2
  22. M. Thompson

    The powertrain and instrumentation donor appear to be a Suzuki Burgman mega-scooter.

  23. Bob The ICEMAN

    Hey guys! Does anybody know if those cars came with Air Conditioning? Driving with that greenhouse without A.C. Would be one heck of a toasty experience.

    Like 4
  24. JagManBill

    This would be a real hoot with a Hayabusa behind it.

    Like 3
    • Carbuzzard Member

      I was think one of those two-stroke triples from the ‘70s. But yeah, this could get very exciting very fast. I wonder about the stability at speed.

      Like 1
  25. Pulse319

    I Love All You Internet Experts Waying in on Something You know Nothing about
    Just Blowing Smoke Waiting for a Response
    I’ve Personally owned 3 of These
    They are the Coolest Vehicle I’ve Ever Owned
    And I’ve had close to 100 collector vehicles
    They are Very popular for Advertising
    The Only Clowns Are The ones Commenting on something Rare and Cool
    I Bet you guys are the Ones Knocking Someone’s car at a Show
    But Never Have Anything to Show yourself
    Oh its in the Garage
    Whatever
    But to answer a couple questions
    They are built with a Tubular structure surrounding you and your passenger
    And have a Roll bar were the canopy meets the windshield
    Most use them for Fun and Shows so they are More Safe than you think
    If you get them Set up the outside wheels don’t affect the Ride on them
    Later models with the Honda Goldwing drivetrain had Heat and Air conditioning
    The ones that Didn’t you can open the canopy up and Drive it in Hot weather just make sure you Lock it down or the Canopy will slide backwards
    Go to a Pulse auto-cycle Show they have one in Indiana Every year
    Talk to These guys They are Very Educated about these Vehicles
    By far Park one at a Show
    Pull into a gas station
    It Will Attract More people with More Questions than Any Of You Clowns have Ever Owned or Built

    Like 6
    • robert semrad

      Finally, someone who knows what they’re talking about, and not afraid to offend people when they have earned it….bravo!!

      Like 6
    • Bob “The ICE Man”

      To: Pulse 319,

      Thanks for providing a good number of answers. Especially the one referring to air conditioning and opening and locking the canopy, if you don’t have A.C.. Credit must be given to those who put such design concepts into production and are able to make them roadworthy. It takes guts and hard work. My hat is off to such innovators. For all remember back to the Aptera that made it from concept to limited production before the investors got cold feet and the Chinese bought them out.

      Like 3
    • JagManBill

      Pulse 319 – a curiosity question – due the “wing-lettes” at speed cause any issues (downforce or lift)? Or have you really not noticed anything.
      As a crazy 17 year old I had saved enough money from my job that I put a deposit down on a BD5 but never got notice to complete the purchase. When these showed up, I almost bought one just to have it.

      Like 1
    • Dave

      I wouldn’t be caught dead in that pile.

    • Bill McCoskey

      Pulse319

      “It Will Attract More people with More Questions than Any Of You Clowns have Ever Owned or Built”.

      I learned years ago that statements laced with absolutes, often forget certain aspects of society! Case in Point . . .

      In the mid 1990s I knew a man here in Maryland by the name of Dan, who had a pulse. Met him at a car show when I parked my V8 Tatra next to his pulse. [We both had vehicles that the mainstream car show guys considered “Other”.] He remarked later that day, that never before had any car ever had more people expressing genuine interest, than my Tatra. He jokingly kept suggesting we trade vehicles.

      One visitor summed it up by saying both vehicles had awesome streamlined bodywork, but the Tatra had that rear mounted air cooled hemi V8 engine, while the pulse had a “regular motorcycle drive train”. [His words, not mine.]

      Like 3
    • Mike Tarutis Staff

      Well said, 319

      Like 2
    • Gino

      I am glad to see you posted. I just purchased one of these and need more info. Mine looks like it is on a VW frame. I want to use it as a car and tow it behind my DC3 that I converted to a motorhome

  26. Bob McK Member

    I could have a lot of fun driving it along A1A in Fort Lauderdale. Never seen one before. Just not sure I would part with 30 Large for a modified motorcycle.

  27. JoeBob

    Does it include an ejection seat?

    Like 1
    • Mike Tarutis Staff

      Wouldn’t that be something to have a rear seat ejection feature?

      For launching missiles and ejecting chaff, of course.

  28. robert semrad

    Finally, someone who knows what they’re talking about, and not afraid to offend people when they have earned it….bravo!!

    Like 1
  29. scottymac

    Reminds me, need to go check on my Elio delivery date. (Yes, I actually got my deposit back.)

  30. snake

    Not a Tomcat frontend anyway.

  31. MIKE READING

    a couple years ago at our car club yearly show in jefferson city tn. a guy brought one, it was the hit of the show. everybody had to look and ask questions. i like odd cars, owned 8 edsels, a gremlin, 2 corvairs, and would love to own one of these, i talked to this guy for an hour he was as cool as his ride, wish i could buy it.

    Like 3
    • Mike Tarutis Staff

      Thanks for writing, Mike Reading.

      After that line up of car ownership, you have to own this thing.

      What could possibly be holding you back?

      Edsels, huh?

      Like 1
  32. Jesse Colson

    Not a Tomcat. VFA= V=Fixed wing, F=Fighter. A=Attack. A piss poor attempt t mimic an F/A- 18. I was a Felix from 1974-1975 on board the USS Saratoga CV60 when they had a real fighter aircraft, the mighty F-4J Phantom !

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