THE TURBO ENCABULATOR


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This video’s been making the rounds among gearheads and machinist-types for years now. Nothing like a little dry machinist humor to really get the party going, but this one has an interesting history…

Among those practicing the Dark Arts of engineering and machine-shopping and other cool shit your granddad did with a pipe in his teeth, the Turbo Encabulator film is the stuff of legend.

In the late Seventies, face-for-hire Bud Taggart was the only game in town when it came to instructional films being made in and around Detroit’s heavy industry. The guy was appropriately gray, old enough to know better, had a voice that only a propaganda film director could love and had years of experience pulling off dead-pan deliveries of heavy technical garble that he usually never really understood (who would?). But he was the best at the white-lab-coat delivery on-screen and was the go-to guy for the ubiquitous tech film.

The Turbo Encabulator stint was nothing new – but it had lived only on paper in some obscure student technical manuals from the Forties. Bud wanted to put the ultra-inside joke to film and in the Seventies, that’s exactly what it was: 16mm color film. A full-on production.

So, as the story goes, Bud convinced director Dave Rondot and the film crew of an actual GMC Trucks project he was working on to stay a little longer and help him with the idea. The script was so convoluted and made such little sense –– even for a battle-hardened pro like Taggart –– that he couldn’t possibly memorize the entire thing for flawless delivery. So, Bud had rigged up a playback device that allowed him to recite what he heard from a planted earplug and was using “the ear” during this delivery. A version of Bud’s invention is still used today.

Gearheads will notice that Bud not only calls out the diagram of the automatic transmission as part of his spoof, but uses the truck parts, still left over on set from the actual film he was recording, as decent props for the Encabulator bit. Nice. When he finishes his completely deadpan delivery, the off-camera laughter you hear is Dave Rondot just not being able to contain himself any longer.

Many spoofs of Bud’s original spoof have been attempted, but none seem to come close to his. Rockwell International, Chrysler and a few others tried major productions that dwarf Bud’s work in production costs and scale, but just don’t quite “get it.” The Turbo Encabulator instructional film will go down in nerd-dom as one of the great practical jokes, but it’s the kind of thing you either love or just blink alot, shrug your shoulders and wonder how you wasted the last minute-and-a-half. We’re in the “got it” camp, but we’re fairly dorky, too.

“Drawn reciprocation dingle arm.” Awesome.

9 Responses to “THE TURBO ENCABULATOR”

  1. Dave Rondot says:

    Thanks for the write up on the real story. Just one mistake, his name is Bud Haggert with an H.

  2. Gorgeous Gil says:

    Fan-freaking-tastic. Great write-up and most excellent video.

    Drawn reciprocation dingle arm, indeed. :)

  3. Big Dave says:

    A friend and I have been searching for info on this classic film, LMAO ! Is Bud still alive? Does he have a homepage ?
    That would be one “Guest Book” I’d love to sign !!!

    What a classic !

  4. Big Dave says:

    A friend and I have been searching for info on this classic film, LMAO ! Is Bud still alive? Does he have a homepage ?
    That would be one “Guest Book” I’d love to sign !!!

    What a classic !

  5. Roger Hare says:

    I too find Bud Haggart hillarious in this video. Pat Paulson and Jackie Vernon made careers out of such dead-pan delivery, but Haggart’s style is more akin to Leslie Neilson in AIRPLANE: A serious Actor known for non-comedy roles speaking nonsense. It doesn’t get any better than this!

    Bud Haggart where are you?

  6. STONER says:

    Well, we don’t want to write his obituary for him, if he’s still perfectly able to do it himself, but we found one for a certain Andrew D. “Bud” Haggart who passed May 12, 2010 in Auburn, NY. Is this, was this, the one and only Bud Haggart? Not sure. But, like Tears For Fears said, if you’re alive and kicking, Bud, we’d love to hear from you…

  7. Roger Hare says:

    I have been looking for Bud Haggart and was shocked to find Andrew Bud Haggart had died in Auburn NY (I live in Auburn). My friends were prepared to visit his grave until I discovered his name is IRVING, not Andrew.
    Irving Bud Haggart is alive and well in Troy Mi. I talked to him on the phone 3/20/11. He is a true gentleman and sincerely appreciative people remember him. As soon as he answered the phone I knew it was him-that broadcasters voice is unmistakable. A relative made him aware of his fame recently by showing him the youtube site, while commenting that over 500,000 people have seen it. He is humbled. I was thrilled.
    Bud lives!!

  8. Craig Pitt says:

    There’s a slightly later version of this on YouTube that Bud did on the Chrysler Master Tech set in 1989 at the studio in Highland Park. I wrote the A-604 Ultradrive transaxle running updates videoscript, and during lunch, I think, Bud laid down the Turbo Encabulator monologue on the “Ear” recorder and used the various transaxle parts in the tabletop shots to complete his demo. Martin Roy directed and ran the video camera. I think Bud nailed it in one or two takes…and that’s why I always liked knowing that Bud was going to be our talent that month! I also wrote him into the intro of “The New Wave of Vehicle Suspensions” in 1990, where he drove up in a LeBaron coupe with a surfboard strapped to the top. I can see Bud riding a surfboard, can’t you? I was 28 then, and a writer at Ross Roy. Bud, if you read this, it was always a pleasure, guy. What a pro.

  9. LeTrptJohn says:

    I have seen so many versions of this priceless video. They just get better and better. The best thing is to jump into a situation and use this psycho-babble. It’s great. You can come up with totally real-sounding jargon that the most gifted engineer will want to know more information.

    “Electron exhaust emissions.”

    Liptophartic reactions within a “9hmZ-Model formation.” – And of course, the HrTPz ratio calculations must be correct.

    Crashed a Corporate party at the Ritz Carlton with this nonsense – got Champagne and Lobster Puffs.

    It was a blast!!!!!

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