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Driven5
Driven5 New Reader
2/10/13 5:30 p.m.

"I could not find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself" –Ferdinand Porsche

These are the guiding words for the journey I am attempting to take, and I invite you to follow along as I encounter both the successes and the inevitable failures along the way…Ideally there will be more of the former than the latter. There is no "kit" from which I will be able to build this car. Instead I am beginning with a set of loosely defined plans in a book called Build Your Own Sports Car, also simply known as "The Book" in certain circles of like-minded social misfits. Then I am proceeding to take those plans and throw them straight out the window, as I redesign almost everything to be the way I want it to be. This will alleviate the all too common issue of working around somebody else's compromises and mistakes, which if nothing else are two things I am certainly more than capable of making for myself.

The hallmark of the type of car I am building is that they are extremely lightweight by today's standards. As a frame of reference, this car will be less than 1/2 the weight of most mid-size family sedans and less than 1/4 the weight of many full size trucks/SUV's. This is great for producing efficient performance and go-kart like handling but does have some drawbacks, not the least of which includes the lug nut rule. That being said, this should still be appreciably safer than riding my motorcycle. In most other ways, the numbers I'm targeting will seem rather modest. This is because my primary goals include neither bragging rights nor Acute Deceleration Syndrome (ADS)*. This car is first and foremost intended to create an amazing all-around driving experience at a reasonable price. It is entirely impossible for any of the major automotive manufacturers to build the car of my dreams in this day and age of soulless transportation appliances. So the only way for such a car to exist is for me to design it and build it myself. Now while this all might sound a bit narcissistic, I can assure you it is.

I realize that I have been a bit of a tease by not really providing any detailed information about my specific plans for the car itself, but that will have to wait until next time. But now that you have read through this brief introduction, you probably find yourself thinking one of two things:

1.)What kind of irrational moron would possibly choose to to subject himself to such pointless torture?****

2.)This is bloody brilliant!*

Either way, it's going to be a long and interesting odyssey. Speaking of which, this will also be a bit of a 'social media' experiment for this particular technological troglodyte. As such, you will be able to follow my build via any of the below linked sources:

http://GarageOdyssey.blogspot.com

http://GarageOdyssey.tumblr.com

@GarageOdyssey (Twitter)

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**In a physical altercation, the vehicle requiring the most lug nuts wins.

***Speed does not kill, but a sudden lack of it does.

****You are obviously wise beyond measure, but please feel free to continue watching this slow motion train wreck.

*Welcome to my little slice of heaven…At least I hope that's where I am!

grafmiata
grafmiata Dork
2/10/13 6:17 p.m.

Definitely will be following this!!!

Driven5
Driven5 New Reader
2/10/13 7:07 p.m.

“Simplify, then add lightness” –Colin Chapman.

This was the mantra responsible for some of the most interesting cars ever built, and is the antithesis of modern automotive design. The Build Your Own Sports Car books detail the construction of a Locost, pronounced ‘low-cost’, which is a play on words regarding an affordable home-built Lotus 7 replica. A large part of the reason for using the Lotus 7 as the basis for the design is the extreme simplicity of shapes and materials used for the vast majority of the chassis and body work. If you’re not familiar with a Lotus 7, it’s a really just a slightly phallic looking pair of pants with an engine. You don’t get into it, you put it on. It has no top, no windows, and no doors. The Lotus 7 was among the numerous sports and racing cars designed by Colin Chapman, and was a tiny car with a tiny engine that achieved surprising performance in spite of its lack of power or sophistication. While a Locost will generally be a noticeably larger and heavier than an actual Lotus 7, to accommodate ‘modern’ sized drivers, most also have substantially more power from their relatively modern engines as well. Pretty much any engine that you can think of has at least been considered for use in a Locost. There are currently running cars with everything from motorcycle engines, to Wankel rotary engines, to good old fashioned American V8’s, and even a small industrial diesel engine. The most commonly used engines though seem to be relatively small 4 cylinder economy car engines that came stock with 100-150 horsepower range.

Many people who build these cars use a complete donor vehicle, with the Mazda Miata being the most popular in America, harvesting as many parts as possible to reuse. This includes all manner of parts from the engine and drivetrain, to the suspension and brakes, to the instrument cluster, to the seats, and even to the steering and pedals. The end result is basically a Miata with more than 750 pounds removed. This is a very smart way to help a build go more easily, quickly, and affordably.

Apparently following that path requires having more common sense than I was given. I will be using mostly Ford based components, but it will be ‘a la carte’. As the starting point I have a 2.0L Duratec engine out of a Ford Focus, which will mate to the 5-speed transmission from a Ford Ranger. The differential and rear upright/brake components comes from a Lincoln Mk VIII, but will be narrowed to a Miata-like width by using Factory Five Cobra rear axle shafts. Front spindles/brakes come from a ‘New Edge’ SN95 Mustang, which are actually being reused from my past failed project car attempt. Also reused from said previous attempt will be the 15” front and 16” rear wheel/tire package. Even once tuned up a bit, the engine will probably still have less than 200 horsepower. Nonetheless this should still provide for more than adequate performance from of a ~1500 pound (hopefully less) car, while also still getting moderately impressive fuel economy.

Speaking of fuel economy, the Lotus 7 also holds the unofficial distinction as the highest coefficient of drag production car ever made. Take THAT Hummer! Basically what this ‘honor’ means, is that while its lightweight allows it to perform admirably at low speeds it has poor high speed performance due to aerodynamics. This also translates into only mediocre highway fuel economy compared to what one should otherwise be capable of with any given engine with so little mass and frontal area to push through the air. Luckily, the CFO** on this project knows exactly how to make a man happy. She told me that she preferred to have a more attractive body even if we had to spend a bit of money to get it. You know the type: classic good looks, curves in all the right places, large prominent headlights, and a shapely backside…Well maybe not in those exact words, but I’m pretty sure it was something along those lines. Thankfully Jack McCornack at Kinetic Vehicles, one of the pillars of the American Locost community, has been working on just such a set of body panels. He is currently using the prototype body to help get over 100mpg (yes, you read that right) out of MAX, his 32hp turbo-diesel powered Locost.

Now, it’s out to the garage to get some work done!

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**Also known as SWEETA: She Who Enables Every Thing Automotive

Driven5
Driven5 New Reader
2/16/13 9:19 p.m.

You can’t build something special without a strong foundation…In this case that is a sheet of 3/4” MDF, six "20 gauge equivalent" 2x4 steel studs, a sheet of 3/4" plywood, two tubes of construction adhesive and a bunch of self-drilling screws. While my table may be moderately overbuilt, my first corner is not exactly flat with the rest of the build table since I chose to try self-drilling screws over predrilled holes in the studs for mounting to the inside of the MDF work surface. Luckily even though such minor mistakes aren’t uncommon, they can usually be fixed with a little massaging...Something SWEETA has taught me well.

Driven5
Driven5 New Reader
2/23/13 2:10 p.m.

Solid-modeling: Old school style. I'm finally close to getting the seating position "just right" on attempt #3, while also making sure the engine/transmission will sit far enough back in the chassis and without making the chassis any wider so that it will still fit between the rear wheels. This would be a lot easier if two objects could occupy the same space...So really it's just the age old problem of fitting 10 gallons of poop into a 5 gallon bucket.

Winston
Winston Reader
2/23/13 2:41 p.m.

Just remember, building a Locost is more about momentum than anything. Do something on it every day, even if it's just 5 or 10 minutes worth of staring/measuring. Good luck, man! I'm excited to see a full-bodied version.

Driven5
Driven5 New Reader
2/23/13 7:25 p.m.

Thanks! That's exactly what I'm trying to force myself to do. Even if it's just a getting a couple of bolts undone on the donor rear subframe disassembly, or making one small adjustment to the seating position. But sadly, even that is still easier said than done sometimes.

ae86andkp61
ae86andkp61 Reader
2/23/13 8:52 p.m.

Should be an awesome build! I'm following this one for inspiration.

Driven5
Driven5 New Reader
3/11/13 1:18 a.m.

I haven't been totally idle on the car this whole time, but I did spend a good chunk of it in Hawaii...So more updates will be coming again soon.

Next up: My battle with the arachnid.

tuna55
tuna55 UberDork
3/11/13 9:17 a.m.

Very cool - we're all watching this one

RossD
RossD UberDork
3/11/13 11:03 a.m.

Where are you at now?

ransom
ransom UltraDork
3/11/13 11:19 a.m.

Wow, glad I saw this when it surfaced again; I missed it in February.

Subscribed!

Driven5
Driven5 New Reader
3/11/13 11:50 p.m.
RossD wrote: Where are you at now?

Seattle area. So while lacking in the sun and warmth of Hawaii, also lacking in the snow and bitter cold of Wisconsin.

Driven5
Driven5 New Reader
3/12/13 12:56 a.m.

"Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand, and I shall move the world" -Archimedes.

...Or in this case, I shall be remove the stubborn old 36mm (1.4") torque-to-yield (originally ~250 lb-ft) axle nut.

Driven5
Driven5 New Reader
3/15/13 1:53 a.m.

Story time:

A long time ago, in magical place named Detroit, there was an engineer working at Ford. He said "I shall cast my rear lower control arms from Iron. This will save cost and allow me to place the bolts attaching the spindle in double shear. Furthermore it shall allow easy access to these bolts so that the rear suspension will be easy to disassemble." and there was much rejoicing.

Then the evil engineer from Lincoln looked at the design and said "To make mine superior I shall cast my rear lower control arm from aluminum. Even though this is a very large and heavy car, this will make it seem as if we care about reducing weight. However I shall place these bolts in single shear in such a way that in order to remove the axle, you must first remove the upright...But in order to remove the upright, you must first remove the axle." and the rejoicing was replaced by the curses and obscenities of any who dared try to remove the axles on their Mk. VIII.

Later, the Lincoln engineer received a swift kick in the plums...And there was much rejoicing.

tuna55
tuna55 UberDork
3/15/13 4:39 a.m.
Driven5 wrote: Story time: A long time ago, in magical place named Detroit, there was an engineer working at Ford. He said "I shall cast my rear lower control arms from Iron. This will save cost and allow me to place the bolts attaching the spindle in double shear. Furthermore it shall allow easy access to these bolts so that the rear suspension will be easy to disassemble." and there was much rejoicing. Then the evil engineer from Lincoln looked at the design and said "To make mine superior I shall cast my rear lower control arm from aluminum. Even though this is a very large and heavy car, this will make it seem as if we care about reducing weight. However I shall place these bolts in single shear in such a way that in order to remove the axle, you must first remove the upright...But in order to remove the upright, you must first remove the axle." and the rejoicing was replaced by the curses and obscenities of any who dared try to remove the axles on their Mk. VIII. Later, the Lincoln engineer received a swift kick in the plums...And there was much rejoicing.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA

Made me laugh! Do you have some pictures of this contraption?

geckowraps
geckowraps New Reader
3/15/13 5:40 a.m.

You have mention a very nice information. I found some very important points which is very useful for me.

Driven5
Driven5 New Reader
3/15/13 11:02 a.m.
tuna55 wrote: Made me laugh! Do you have some pictures of this contraption?

Once I get the control arms off the subframe, I'll try to mock it up and create a picture book illustrating the process...The whole thing certainly would have been far easier with a second set of hands though.

bgkast
bgkast Reader
3/15/13 12:09 p.m.

I just removed the axle nuts for my locost engine donor using the redneck version of your approach. I used a T post I found laying in the yard between a few of the lug bolts.

Driven5
Driven5 New Reader
3/17/13 1:17 a.m.

Victory is mine!

Driven5
Driven5 New Reader
3/18/13 2:16 a.m.

Standard Disclaimer: The following is for educational purposes only. Using any tool in a manner other than specifically intended can lead to injury or death. Do not try this at home. The use of the term "you" in the statements below, specifically refers to me and not you.

With that out of the way, Archimedes was right. When your longest breaker bar just isn't enough, you just need a longer lever! In this case, also known as a cheater bar. All you need is a long sturdy section of tube/pipe and your much shorter nut loosening device.

Slip tube A over breaker bar B, add copious amounts of PB Blaster, and you've got yourself a good old fashioned device ideally suited for breaking sockets and rounding off nuts. Occasionally it will even loosen the nuts with the socket intact. One thing to watch out for is bolts that make a lot of noise when being loosened, can have that sound amplified to even more piercing levels by the tube.

The_Jed
The_Jed Dork
3/18/13 5:18 a.m.

Educational and entertaining, I'll be keeping an eye on this.

Billy_Bottle_Caps
Billy_Bottle_Caps HalfDork
3/18/13 3:11 p.m.

I just spit soda all over my iPad.

SnowMongoose
SnowMongoose Reader
3/18/13 3:39 p.m.

Interesting, well written, and actually not terribly far from me.
Watching (but not in a stalker sort of way)

Driven5
Driven5 New Reader
3/18/13 7:06 p.m.

I know I haven't really done much so far, but thanks for the compliments!

Billy_Bottle_Caps wrote: I just spit soda all over my iPad.

Disclaimer: Any and all fluids ending up on your electronic devices as a result of this build are entirely your own responsibility.

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