This video looks like another wacky experiment from the Garage 54 crew on YouTube, and technically it is. There is a bit of history with this home-brewed four-wheel-drive idea, however, as it’s something of an urban legend. The concept is simple – attach a rope or some other windable material to a wheel or tire, and use the vehicle’s own power to either winch yourself out of trouble, or in this case, send power to other wheels that otherwise have none.
To make this happen, the team once again turned its attention to a helpless Lada and fitted it with special wheels wrapped in steel cable. Both front wheels carry cable until all-wheel-drive is needed, at which point the cables are connected to the rear wheels. With the Lada being rear-wheel-drive, going forward causes the rear wheels to unspool the cable from the front, turning them in the process. That is, in theory, anyway.
Gallery: Homemade 4WD Lada
Yes, there are many problems with such a setup, not the least of which being that it only works with a locking differential. Also, it doesn’t work going forward, and you’re limited in range by how much cable you have. There’s also a slight problem with torque steer, especially if the cables don’t tighten at the same time. The force can literally rip the wheel from the driver’s hands, as we see many times in this video.
You know what else we see in the video? It freaking works. The Lada gets well-and-truly stuck in some deep snow, and with the cables connected, the plucky little car manages to extricate itself on multiple occasions. Granted, the torque steer has the capability of breaking fingers if you’re not careful, and then there’s the whole issue of trying to wind the cable back once you’re done. But yeah, this is one urban automotive myth that slots into the confirmed category.
That is, it's confirmed but not remotely practical or safe. In other words, absolutely don’t try this at home.