Understanding your butt.

The butt? An important tool of fun. Our posterior plays an important role in car fun. It’s often what we refer to when we discuss our experience in a fast automobile. “That one was a clencher, threw me right back in my seat!” Driving enjoyment is primarily decided by the feedback our body translates to our brains. Matt Tregars V8 Corolla is nick named ‘the roller coaster’ as the experience to an actual roller coaster is quite comparable. User experience. Let’s talk about it.

like a fine wine, an aged cheese or a high thread count, our requirements refine over time. With a history of experience our future tastes become more specific, with focused interest. My observation of vehicles and the user experience they offer has adjusted my level of respect for them. I’ve learned that the cost of a vehicle as well it’s performance are only small roles played in the overall enjoyment I get from my experience. Fine materials, extreme acceleration or even great handling may not excite me as sole factors of a greater interactive impression. Build quality, noise, ergonomics have great affects as well. Other feels do too, the sounds, smells and vibrations. Light leaking into the windows, perspectives glaring back into the mirrors, the rigidity fed through me. My butt has the final say in my enjoyment. Hey Quinn, this car feels great!

It’s interesting to note, car audio completions have classes for both shear loudness but also for sound quality. The overall experience of the setup can result in a trophy, not just it’s ear piercing ability. This one feels more important to me. Focusing on the overall user experience rather than one specific detail, this approach should result in a greater enjoyment, appreciation and most importantly , a greater connection to the car. With these ideals considered could this approach be used in the performance of our car?

Drag racing is a short term excitement, part of the enjoyment is the potential of speed available at any given moment. Like riding a wild stallion the feeling of having tamed a beast is rewarding. However within the vast enthusiasts of motorsport, people exist who have a fetish solely for numbers. This fetish of recorded measurements doesn’t insure an enjoyable drive, some of the fastest cars ever built are the least enjoyable to drive. Recorded speed is not a measurement of pleasure. I can agree, it’s difficult to brag on a specifically measured level, the enjoyment I get from my car.

Pictured at the top of this article is a concept artwork of a vehicle I would like to experience. It exists in my brain like all automotive dreamers builds do. It hasn’t left my brain in nearly 3 years. I often think about it and receive an emotion boost from the imagined scenario of operating it. It’s potential user experience excites me. The image is important, what I project to others, my own vanity helps improve my experience. Being observed as thrifty and crafty is important to me, I like the feeling I get showing myself worth isn’t inflated, but rather appreciative of affordable things. However, image is only a small part of the potential experience for me.

I enjoy handling, operating a predictable car at it’s limit has consistently proven more fun than an unpredictable one. The overall speed isn’t the enjoyment, rather the actual results of my control input matching the expectation I had for these movements. “I want to do this, to get there” and the car does it how I saw it. This is far more enjoyable then checking a lap time at the end of a lap. I won’t deny personal improvement is greatly rewarding, but I can receive that feeling from a slow car, just as much as a fast one. Did I improve on this run? Yes or no. Speed relative to others is unimportant.

Understanding this enjoyment helps me plan my user experience. This Firefly Convertible has a few benefits that would help achieve this goal. A low weight, an undeniable factor of enjoyable handling. A low roll center, convertibles although often heavier than their hardtop variants, generally have a lower center of gravity. Imagined is a well matched set of springs and shocks. The usage? Daily driving. I need to consider the average roads I’ll be operating the car on. Bumpy roads? Go a bit softer, smooth flat roads? Maximize the potential grip by running the suspension stiffer. My local roads are quite bumpy, and some of my favorite roads are very bumpy! I’d plan to run springs stiffer than stock, but not much of an aggressive increase. Rather, the focus being on balancing the cars over and understeer characteristics.

What gets me excited about such an experience is the motor combination. It would be enjoyable to run a motorcycle engine, mounted in the rear. 1000cc bike engine excites me. Low weight, low roll center. The addition of a high revving, good sounding engine. What’s is motivating about this, is the shifting interaction. Bikes use a sequential shifting mechanism, often clutchless on up shifts. The idea of laying flat on the gas, and just bumping the shifter forward is a rewarding feeling. A good experience.

Poor mans Formula 1. Bike engines make very little torque, the car wouldn’t go to fast. But that mid mounted motor screaming away, the clutchless shifts, and low roll center, would be a fun, slow way to feel fast. Rewarding. A vehicle which would be cheap to operate and maintain, but offer the experience of something much more expensive and exotic, all while projecting a comfortable image. A positive user experience.

How do I build my car to consider a good user experience? It’s pretty simple, first be honest with yourself about what you enjoy. Ignore temporary excitement and focus on long term rewards. Get experience, lots of people fall in love with their first car, it doesn’t mean it’s a good or bad car. Drive lots of cars! See what you enjoy about them be forward with what you don’t. It’s okay to write things down, draw pictures, save photos and express feelings you’ve felt. Think about your usage, resources (more than just budget), expected longevity. Ditch surface level vanity, what’s the actual cause or your enjoyment? Most of all, above all things listen to, and trust, your butt.


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