His country may be better known for producing the oil burned in automobiles, but to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his military coup, Libyan leader, Muammar al-Qaddafi, has designed a 'rocket car'.
An Italian engineering company said Wednesday that Qaddafi wanted an ultra-safe car as sleek as a rocket to celebrate the anniversary of the 1969 coup that brought him to power. The "Libyan Rocket", as the prototype is called, is described as an "elegant sedan" 17 feet long, more than six feet wide, with a 3-liter, V-6 gasoline engine. According to the BBC, it also has airbags, an unspecified 'electronic defense system', and a collapsible bumper.
In an added bonus, it can go hundreds of miles on a flat tire, a feature that could come in handy while driving in the vast Libyan desert. Other safety features include a device to cut off the fuel supply to avoid a fire in case of accident.
Domenico Morali, CEO of Tesco TS SpA, an automotive design company based in Turin, Italy, said Qaddafi joined in discussions about the car's styling and asked for an original car using Libyan materials including marble, leather and fabric.
The car was unveiled earlier this week in Tripoli at the end of an African Union summit.
"The first thing (Qaddafi wanted) was safety in how you drive," Morali said in a telephone interview. "The second was developing the automotive sector in Libya."
According to the BBC, construction of a factory to produce the car will begin next month in the nation's capitol, Tripoli.
Qaddafi reportedly chose the name 'rocket' to send a message that Libya uses such devices for peaceful ends.
The Associated Press contributed to this report