Typing,simply typing about cars. Lately my mind has been blank when it comes to creative posts. I just cannot find something new to tell you. I’m a utilitarian car lover, and sadly the list of utilitarian cars is limited, mostly because of the lack of new vehicles that are simplistic and to the point, even Korean built cars have DVD GPS navigation systems with multi-climactic adjustments.
My life seems to be completely based around cars, giving it some sort of meaning of existence, but separately cars and life do not have a point. Self defined goals is ones choose destiny. It is not set or specific but rather the daily conflict of peoples obsessions and dreams clashing with each others levels of devotion. Morals are the compass which direct a person, goals are simply the destinations of an interest.
My interests are rather specific; Utilitarian automobiles and skill based motor sports. With these interests, what is the destination? I’ve always been a fan of Racing inspired coach builders. Companies/people like Shelby, Tom’s, Lotus, etc, where racing and coach building seem to have come hand in hand. Carol really seems similar to my way of life, such a focus on simple and straight forward performance is what connects the Cobra and the Turbo Rampage.
I’m curious to how people view Shelby’s choices, sure he was involved in the original GT40, and the Cobra, but it’s the Mustangs and the Omni’s that continue his legacy for the average Joe today. The Cobra was a really basic idea; scrap the big bulky body around the big ford V8 and drop the engine into a small and nimble British shell. Nothing new, just a factory backed Hot Rod.
Colin Chapman should be a name you know, if your honestly into cars. Personally I hate super cars, I find them insanely pointless, as well I find them to be proof that idiots have money, and geniuses have resources. It’s only my guess, but I feel that most people see Lotus’s as Exotic and luxurious which is missing the point entirely. Lotus’s approach to car building is backwards to that of almost everyone else, rather than adding power, they find ways to simplify and lighten their cars. A simple realization that although adding power improves basic performance, it decreases overall performance. Reducing mass improves performance equally through handling, braking, and acceleration, not to mention fuel economy.
Tom’s is a similar story, originally just a crew of guys building race cars together…..
hopefully become something similar. Dreams are important, especially when you don’t treat them as fantasy. I’m not quite sure who said that dreams were an alternate reality, but what ever unicorn hating freaks they were: I’d like to continue to dream big.
Things have changed recently, and there’s really two versions of recently. Within the year I’ve moved across the country, we’ve covered that in previous posts, but more recently Robin and I ventured into settling down in an alternative matter. These two takes on ‘recent’ have affect on each other. Robin and my plan when leaving Ontario was to move west and live in a Garage for two reasons: To keep costs low and to shit where we eat..errr..work where we live? Live where we work..no..no…it’s best described as always breaking even at home. Many people seem to work all day away from home, to pay for home. Not only are they taking up the space of two people, but they spend most of their time putting effort into something they don’t believe in, simply to afford somewhere to escape what this exchange and the other people who also believe in it.
Obviously this isn’t an -all or nothing- situation, but it is a vast majority. We wanted to find something that had less of a foot print and more fun, and although it took us longer to find something different than we set out for, we have found it.
Rednecks in training, Robin and I found a free RV parking spot and a nice fully equipped trailer for $8500. Our rent is roughly $150 per month, much less than an apartment and we have about an acre of space to ourselves out in the forest, just out side of town.
This offers me the opportunity to begin building cars, one by one after I construct my small work area. This I am excited about. My small step is to begin building individual race/street cars, but my long term goal is to move into coach building. Now to design the path between. I’ve been thinking about this during my time off from the internet. Since we’ve moved I’ve had no access so it’s just been me and my thoughts, and roughly this is what I’ve come up with: I’d like to approach some of the local dealer ships and check out some of the current cars offered in the low end range. The idea is simply to source a cheap but very basic platform, build a business plan, approach a bank and build car #1. Hyundai Accent is on the top of my list, but it’s rather unresearched and vague, basically I like the body style and it’s potential looks, but price and actual mechanicals will make the decision.
Simplicity will be the best approach, register a business license, setup a workspace and acquire a car. The modifications will be minimal at best, with a focus on improving balance. Reducing weight will be important – I’m not sure how the new car world works anymore, but in the past you used to be able to make special requests for certain part combinations if you were willing to wait for the factory to assemble it. With a lighter base the follow up will be based on the mechanicals provided but one universal truth will be in affect: down and out, however, it will be a more conservative approach.
A foot in the door allows growth. Much like the dirty vacuum salesman of the 50’s, the car will just need a moment of your time. Re-selling at the dealer ship is important to achieve the desired image. The customer is to see it as a factory option, a rare, special/collectors edition. While others may roll up to the light in what they think is top of the line, the rare few will have something harder, faster, stronger. If this does well, then we will make a second of the vehicles and allow the cars, their sales, and most importantly, the customers to dictate the direction of the company.
I’ve recently spent some time at local dealer ships to check out what I thought was the best affordable platform for such a project. Two vehicles so far have stood out to me: The Nissan Versa, and the Honda Fit. To begin with, neigther are offered with a special performance oriented version in North America. The focus and others are offered with SVT packages and other similar ‘performance’ and aesthetic packages. Both also are only offered with one engine options, the Fit with a 1.5L and the Versa with a 1.8L (hatch back, sedan has 1.6L), this means that no matter the version selected, even if it is the ‘sport’ version, the performance is no greater than that of the base. Where the two separate is in the weight: The Fit is the lighter of the two at 1100kg, and the versa at about 12 and a half. Reducing weight is one of the easiest and least risky way of improving performance in regards to voiding warranty, etc. Adding to the complication is the number of speeds available, the fit is only offered with a 5 speed, where the heavier Versa has a 6 speed manual even on the base model, will overall performance be improved on simply because of quicker shifts of the Versa, or is there simply more acceleration to be had with the lighter weight of the Fit? I’m curious to the gearing of the Versa, perhaps the 6th gear is a second over drive to improve mileag, and if so, a simple change to the differential gear ratio may improve overall performance without modifications of the engine. This would also offer the opportunity to install a limited slip differential while changing the gear ratio.
The simple truth of it, is the base isn’t as important as I’ve made it seem above as the performance gains while retaining factory warranty for resale will be limited, but achievable. Tires will make the greatest impact on initial performance, and rims will make the biggest impact on initial looks. That’s the simple process, the complex process of understanding the dynamics of working with a dealer ship. What a possible mess.