The Swedish Tekniska museet has just released this charming vintage photograph of "the World's first mechanical elephant", giving no further information about the huge robotic creature in the black and white shot.

But, according to Cybernetic Zoo, this is Bensina, one of several mechanical elephants designed by British engineer Frank Stuart in the Fifties:

He began by building a steel skeleton, the size of a full grown elephant, and mounted a 10 h.p. petrol engine within. This operates the feet by means of elaborate mechanism and the animal can attain a speed of 27 m.p.h. and has a special licence to use on roads. Over 9000 parts were used in its construction, and the cost exceeded £1200. The entire mechanism is covered with a "hide" of 1/2 inch thick specially toughened paper [using a gas technique] , and the admirable modelling of the head and trunk (used as the exhaust pipe) and the convincing tusks.


One of Stuart's elephants featured in the Top Gear in 2008, which you can watch below. She goes off, with a trumpety-trump. Trump, trump, trump. [Tekniska Museet]

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