NASA sent a request for proposal (RFP) to the manufacturing industry for the development of a Lunar Rover Vehicle on July in 1969. They received proposals from Boeing, Bendix, Grumman, and Chrysler to build the vehicle. Of the proposals that were submitted, Boeing’s was selected as the prime contractor in October of that year.
Boeing was great as an aviation manufacturer, but their forte in the outer-space environment was in management. They recognized General Motors ability to build a wide-range of vehicles, and hired the company as a subcontractor for the vehicle build. General Motors Defense Research Laboratories was awarded a contract to build the “mobility system” of the vessel.
What this meant to the team was: GM would build all the stuff that makes a car go. The motors, wheels, suspension, etc. Pretty much everything but the chassis, electronics, and navigation system, which were built by Boeing.
These Lunar Rover Vehicles were used during the Apollo 15, Apollo 16, and Apollo 17 missions in 1971 and 1972. While these moon buggies opened up a wider range of potential area to explore, NASA restricted the operations to remain within walking distance in case the rovers broke down and the astronauts had to hike back.
Built with a top speed of 8 mph, the rover was recorded to have driven at 11.2 mph down a hill near the “Sherlock” block field with Eugene Cernan at the wheel. This set a new lunar-land speed record that stands to this day. This speed record is truly “out of this world.”