In Episode 22 of Discovery Channel's "Monster Garage," Jesse James and his determined crew have used the "Machines vs. Mankind" motif of this summer's sci-fi film "Terminator 3" as inspiration to build a stealthy stunt cycle launch platform. What looks like a stock Toyota Tundra pickup truck from the outside actually holds a motorcycle launcher inside, complete with Tommy lift, Triumph motorcycle, and stunt rider just waiting to be released with the pull of a handle.
After tearing out the stock 2003 Toyota Tundra's cab, the team's main focus was on finding a mechanism that would actually launch the motorcycle. The crew began with a wheelchair lift idea, but discarded it in favor of a power-folding Tommy lift platform. Once the launcher method was decided upon, the side of the truck was cut away to allow the lift to be welded in.
It was welder and pipe-fitter Sean Gibbs' visualization of the final build that guided the project. "The biggest technical challenge was fitting the motorcycle inside the cab," says Gibbs. "The hardest part was trying to find a proper lifting mechanism for the motorcycle. After we found the Tommy lift, I knew we would not fail." Team members agreed the biggest challenge was trying to fit that Tommy liftgate into the body of the truck.
To learn more about the T-3 Stealth Launcher, check out the Monster Garage fansite at ds
Concerned that the Triumph bike was bigger than anticipated, and fearing the suspension could suffer as a result, Jesse's crew made modifications to beef up the leaf springs and air bags. The custom suspension mods were supervised by Dwayne Jungen, a self-proclaimed desert rat whose passion is building extreme rock-crawling vehicles.
Finally, a faux truck side operating as a gullwing door was fabricated and installed. After cleaning up the body work, vinyl graphics were applied. Jeff Mann, production designer for "Terminator 3" oversaw the "Monster Garage" team to keep the look of the T-3 Stealth Launcher authentic. With the gullwing door open and the lift extended, the Tundrinator spans 12 feet wide, and sports a half-inch of ground clearance.
On the ultimate challenge day, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger's very own stunt double, Monte Rex Perlin, was on hand to try the launcher. With drama found only at the "Monster Garage," the man/machine combo worked, launching the Triumph to a victory.
To learn more about the T-3 Stealth Launcher, check out the Monster Garage fansite at dsc.discovery.com. "Monster Garage" airs on the Discovery Channel Mondays at 9 p.m. and midnight ET/PT, Saturdays at 9 p.m. and midnight ET/PT, and Sundays at 4 p.m.
Photos by Gilles Mingasson, for the Discovery Channel