HOUMA, La. (AP) — Houma native and resident Mike Levron is building a working replica of a "Star Wars" Landspeeder for his son.

"Funny thing is, I am not a Star Wars fan," he said. "I've never even seen the movies."

Everything started a couple years ago when Levron began collecting small sports cars. At the time, his now 10-year-old son, Jacob Levron, an avid Star Wars fan, told him some of them looked like a Landspeeder.

First featured "Star Wars: Episode IV -- A New Hope," a Landspeeder is a hovering vehicle capable of relatively high speeds.

"That's how the Landspeeder started," he said. "It was all a joke at first, but my son wanted one, and I found myself building it."

Six months ago, Levron and his friend Chance Cenac began talking about how to actually create a real life Landspeeder. Now, it's almost done.

Levron used a stock 1999 Mazda Miata with a 4-cylinder engine as its base and began customizing pieces to transform it into a Landspeeder.

"I went to Lowe's, bought a bunch of materials and just started building it in my backyard, and it progressed from just a little project to a real-life automobile" he said.

Both of his sons, Jacob and 16-year-old Cullen Levron, have been involved in the project. Jacob designed technology in the Landspeeder's cockpit, and Cullen will program the lights.

What Levron liked most about his project is that he's only basing it off some models he bought online.

"First I bought a Lego model, then I bought a more expensive one that showed more detail," Levron said.

Cenac, a sculpture artist, is helping Levron by painting the outside of the Landspeeder, which is completely made of wood.

The side lights change colors and have plastic coverings. To make it look like it's floating, Levron will cover the structure's bottom with easily bendable plastic mirrors. It will also have a sound system and the three engines on the back with speakers.

Levron hopes to make the Landspeeder street legal. Though it has some of the necessary requirements, such as blinkers and headlights, he's still working out some kinks.

During a parade, the driver will be operating through several video screens that will be put into the dashboard.

"When you sit down you literally can't see anything, so the boards need to be on at all times," Levron said.

Levron may develop two modes for the car: float mode and street mode. During float mode, the vehicle will need multiple people, including a driver near the floorboards and actors at the top.

During street mode, the driver would take a seat that can see over the dashboard.

"My youngest can't wait to drive it," Levron said.

Including thrusters, the vehicle's dimensions reach 11 feet by 20 feet, Levron said.

Sometimes, Levron will work four to five hours a day on the Landspeeder, others it will be between 10 and 12.

"It just depends on the amount of free time time I have on my hands on an average day," Levron said. "Lately I have been traveling a lot. That's why we haven't made much progress in the past few weeks."

The Landspeeder will be available for rent whenever people need it for a negotiable price, but it is not for sale.

The goal is to have it as a float for Mardi Gras next year.

"This model is the second attempt," Levron said. "The first one was too small and it was barely manageable, so this one is much bigger but it is safer."


Information from: The Courier, http://www.houmatoday.com