Popular Mechanics recently published an in-depth look at the Amish buggy. The main source for this story was an unidentified Amish buggy maker in Lancaster County, PA.
Amish buggies have all sorts of technology built into them, from the lighting, to the brakes, to the suspension system. As article author Matthew Jancer writes:
You might have thought the technology inside this 1800s method of transportation stopped progressing right around then. Instead, buggy tech keeps advancing, and buggy makers have become electricians and metalworkers to build in all the new tech you can’t see under the traditional black paint.
I pulled out 5 interesting facts about Amish buggies from Jancer’s article. Find those below.
You can also read the article in full, with more tech detail, here.
One caveat to keep in mind is that buggies in the Lancaster community are going to be more technologically advanced, and more expensive than buggies in other places.
5 Things You Might Not Know About Amish Buggies
- You can order luxury options on an Amish buggy, including a speedometer, cup holders, and a propane heater
- Brakes on Amish buggies are usually drum-style. However a few use disc brakes built for dune buggies
- To power lighting, buggies may be loaded with batteries (electric drill variety), including spares for long journeys. Someone recently attempted a buggy alternator, but according to the buggy builder, “it never took off”
- Some buggies are now made using thermally modified wood. This means they “cook the livin’ daylights out of it” to reduce it to near-zero-percent moisture. This makes it rot-resistant
- The buggy maker estimates the average cost to be about $8,000 (here’s a more expensive example, priced at $9,861)
That doesn’t count the upkeep of a horse, which an Amish friend recently quoted at around $5/day (so in the $1800 annual range). And as he noted, that tab is running round-the-clock, whether you drive or not.
You might be wondering, how long do Amish buggies last? The article ends with this interesting quote from the buggy maker:
“A lot of people will get 20 or 30 years out of a buggy before they do any major rebuilding of it. There’s a strong demand for good used buggies because of youth. Most people will buy their 16-year-old son a horse, a harness, and a used buggy. And then we have people who trade in their buggy every five to eight years. It’s like the mainstream world. A lot of these buggies will be running 40 or 50 years, rebuilt several times.”