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Old 22nd August 2012, 05:34 AM   #1
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Building a new sports car, where to start?

Hi all

As many of you will know I've been building my GT40 for a couple of years now and am really enjoying the whole experience and have met some very cool and extremely talented people along the way.

I've been thinking for a while about another project which is to design and build my own mid engine sports car. I don't pretend to have the engineering skills to do this alone so would be drafting in experts and companies to help but the first question really is where is the best place to start?

I've got two options that I can see. The first option is to look at repurposing a road car, so new body, interior and mechanical improvements on a donor much like Evanta are doing with the DB7 to DB4 conversions. The other option is to go down the route of starting with a blank sheet of paper and designing from the ground up like RCR have done with the SLC or Superformance with the Perana.

My current thoughts are that starting with a good donor car would be the easiest and most cost effective way to go as the manufacturer will have done much of the hard work for you but I'd really appreciate some thoughts from you guys on how you'd approach a similar project.
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Old 22nd August 2012, 06:41 AM   #2
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

Trev, mate i have done a couple and the main dilema is what are you hoping to do with the car, road, road and track or track only, if only building for the track then you have to start by looking at what class you can run in, get hold of the rules for that class then you can hit the drawing board. the big desicion then is tube frame or mono, i chose tube because thats what i have more experience with, its also cheaper and easier than a mono.
as for a donor you dont need one, uprights for both front and rear are readily available, as are shocks , wishbones are not hard to build, most expensive part will be trans axle depending on size of engine you intend to run.
once you have all that info, then you figure out your wheel and tyre sizes you want, once all of that is in place you can design your suspension with all your pick up points in place, then you design the chassis to pick up all of the suspension pick ups.
simple as that.lol
I'm sure there will be more advice, but that will give you something to think about

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Old 22nd August 2012, 07:58 AM   #3
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

Hi Trev, I'm not sure what your thinking of is such a good idea to be honest but admire your spirit.
Things also to consider are safety.
Guys like Tornado, SGT, RCR etc etc have put a lot of time, money with success and failure and this could be an expensive venture.
I dont know him but look at Fran @ RCR his setup must have cost a fortune and setting up the SLC was probably an off shoot from other models but I dread to think what that would involve setting up.
Even on a small scale it would be a major task unless you have given up work to do it.
I realised this when I considered doing something myself.
What I did do was build a chassis based on the GTD40 and modified it to suite.
I decided after that to shelve the project as time was not on my side.
Why not complete the Tornado 100% doing that will teach you a lot and possibly see if there are any modifications that are advantagous.
I'm on my 6th car build and numerous motorcycles restorations and I'm still on a learning curve.


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Old 22nd August 2012, 08:33 AM   #4
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

I agree with Keith. Reinventing the wheel is costly. The rule of deep pockets certainly plays out doing anything in this industry. Like the old adage says:The only sure way to make small fortune in this industry is to start with a large fortune.

For me doing anything custom cost me more than budgeted (X2 or 3) and it takes me longer than anticipated. Now I just add the next increment of time to anything I do. If I figure a week to accomplish a task it ends up taking a month. If I figure a month to do something it takes a year. I don't know if this is true for others but it works for me.
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Old 22nd August 2012, 08:37 AM   #5
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

I can completely agree with all of the guys comments...

Some of us that have done multiple designs and builds may make this seem "not too difficult" but just look at the amount of replica and kit car companies that have fallen by the wayside through recent years....this is a massive undertaking...even taking an existing chassis and modifying it to meet your own ideas...

I have hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in RCR and Superlite...and thats not including CNC machines and the business itself...thats just tooling and development....sometimes its exhausting to think about .

Heck...just taking a street based kit and turning into a race specific car can take monumental mounts of time and money....Check out Iain's RF race car in Australia...

I agree with Keith ...finish the GT40 , work through the teething troubles that all new builds have, have some fun on track and then decide whats next....
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Old 22nd August 2012, 08:39 AM   #6
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

Thanks for your initial thoughts guys. I would be thinking of making a performance road car much the same as the Evanta DB4. I was really inspired by a car I saw recently in a Mercedes magazine which was created for SEMA in the states. These guys took a modern R230 Mercedes SL and a shell from a 1961 Mercedes 190sl and created this amazing car.







I'd like to do something similar maybe with a car that has minor cosmetic damage and then restyle and modify the car to this kind of standard. It would of course be after I've finished the GT40 but just wanted to get some thoughts on how feasible a project like this might be
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Old 22nd August 2012, 08:44 AM   #7
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

Check out some of the incredible hotrod built here in the States.....call around a few hot rod shops and get some quotes...its equally stunning how expensive it can become...
If you buy a body from this or that replica(ref;Mercedes above) and start installing it onto a different chassis then you may be able to cut some corners...but things like a really well sorted interior can cost upwards of 15-20,000...dont ask how I know....but it all depends upon your dream goal and its realisation...

You could always take an XK8 and turn it into a Jag type concept like the 180 or something, similarly take an E type and make an Eagle style car....both stunning and much easier than a whole new design
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Old 22nd August 2012, 08:51 AM   #8
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

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Originally Posted by gt40fran View Post
Check out some of the incredible hotrod built here in the States.....call around a few hot rod shops and get some quotes...its equally stunning how expensive it can become...
If you buy a body from this or that replica(ref;Mercedes above) and start installing it onto a different chassis then you may be able to cut some corners...but things like a really well sorted interior can cost upwards of 15-20,000...dont ask how I know....but it all depends upon your dream goal and its realisation...

You could always take an XK8 and turn it into a Jag type concept like the 180 or something, similarly take an E type and make an Eagle style car....both stunning and much easier than a whole new design
Agreed Fran, starting with a good base car like an XK8 would make most sense. I am not thinking this will be a cheap project and I certainly wouldn't have the skills to do this alone.

I've been talking to a car design artist about a concept he came up with a while ago and aquiring the rights to it. Then I've been looking at crowd sourcing some experts to help with various aspects of the build from design to engineering. As I said there are some amazingly talented people out there like yourself Fran and it would be great if I can come up with a proposed concept that people will want to get involved with.
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Old 22nd August 2012, 09:15 AM   #9
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

Many times talent does not come cheap though...initial enthusiam often wanes when real work is required......
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Old 22nd August 2012, 10:25 AM   #10
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

" I Agree"

Must get myself over to RCR 's one day to look at that SLC.
Where's Michigan is it near London ?????

Joking... I know it's in Australia somewhere !
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Old 22nd August 2012, 12:00 PM   #11
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

I wonder if Ettore Bugatti or Colin Chapman were ever told to stop dreaming and go and get a proper job. Without people with dreams of building a car of their own design where would we be?

Trevor, if I read you right what you are looking at building is a one off of your own design, not going into the kit car business. Don't be put off if you feel you can achieve your goal. Time is the most important ingredient as you already know. Research the subject thoroughly first and then if you are happy GO FOR IT.

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Old 22nd August 2012, 01:09 PM   #12
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

Fran IS a potential Colin Chapman, he is just a lot farther down the road compared to TrevS. Everyone starts the dream somewhere, we didn't discourage Fran did we? On offer is good sound advice that frankly coming from an actual burgeoning 'Chapman' is invaluable. Experienced words. Listen. Depending on what you end up doing - as you have outlined vastly different challenges as possibilities. You will need, good advice, money, space, equipment, time, skill, education, money, patience, money. Not necessarily in that order...did I mention money?

Look down deep, decide, go for it.
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Old 22nd August 2012, 02:05 PM   #13
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Magee View Post
I wonder if Ettore Bugatti or Colin Chapman were ever told to stop dreaming and go and get a proper job. Without people with dreams of building a car of their own design where would we be?

Trevor, if I read you right what you are looking at building is a one off of your own design, not going into the kit car business. Don't be put off if you feel you can achieve your goal. Time is the most important ingredient as you already know. Research the subject thoroughly first and then if you are happy GO FOR IT.

Brian.
+1 Don`t be afraid of it, the more work you can do yourself the cheaper it will be, as soon as you outsource the mount up. But it will be a lot of work but the end result will be well worthwhile as you should end up with a car that you want, the pedals in just the right place, everything where YOU want it and done how you want it.
I guess the other option would be to find someone else with a similar idea as yours and work together but here would have to be compromise to your "idea of what`s right" and the other persons.
Although having never seen a RCR car except for pictures on here I must say that they look like the result of years worth of work and developement, but even this had to start somewhere and I suspect Fran saw a car and thought "I can make one better than that!!" From little acorns grow!!!
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Old 22nd August 2012, 06:35 PM   #14
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

Hey guys

Thanks for the feedback so far it's all very constructive so keep it coming. The plan would be to build myself a one off car/prototype based on an existing platform, much like hot rod builders in the states. I am initially going to work with a car artist to flesh out a design and then work with a CAD engineer to produce some models.

Once I have a fully fleshed concept I can then show the community and get some feedback and see if it should continue to be a one off personal project or if there is a potential market for my vision and if the car would make financial sense to sell. I don't think this is me trying to setup a kitcar business but trying to create my dream car and seeing if it works and then seeing how far it can go.

I know this is going to be a slippery slope and it often goes horribly wrong but I am a dreamer and I have an idea that I'd like to realise. I guess without dreamers such as Horacio Pagani, Ercole Spada etc the world would be a much more boring place



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Old 22nd August 2012, 08:37 PM   #15
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

Quote:
Originally Posted by trevorsummers View Post
The first option is to look at repurposing a road car, so new body, interior and mechanical improvements on a donor much like Evanta are doing with the DB7 to DB4 conversions. The other option is to go down the route of starting with a blank sheet of paper and designing from the ground up like RCR have done with the SLC or Superformance with the Perana. .
How about a route somewhere in between: take a fully-developed chassis with drivetrain, and create the body and interior that is in your imagination. That gets you the blank sheet of paper experience from any visible perspective, but removes the hardest engineering and fabrication challenges. You start out with something that handles, brakes, has all the linkages, wiring, plumbing, etc., fully-designed and proven.

You could do this with one of Fran's kits (I think) including the SLC. You could do it with an SPF GT40 roller as long as you accept the GT40 "greenhouse" and center section (although you could do your own doors). I think you could do it with any of the space-frame GT40 kits or Cobra kits and rollers. And so on.... Just order one "without the body and interior parts".

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Old 22nd August 2012, 08:55 PM   #16
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mesa View Post
Fran IS a potential Colin Chapman...
"Potential!?" His stuff is blindingly fast, easy to build, works reliably. Several steps ahead of the late Mr. Chapman in most ways that matter, IMO. Sure they're heavier, but you've got a hole saw and a sawzall, right? So, go add some lightness.

Lock and load, Chapman acolytes....

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Old 23rd August 2012, 02:32 AM   #17
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

Quote:
Originally Posted by awatkins View Post
How about a route somewhere in between: take a fully-developed chassis with drivetrain, and create the body and interior that is in your imagination. That gets you the blank sheet of paper experience from any visible perspective, but removes the hardest engineering and fabrication challenges. You start out with something that handles, brakes, has all the linkages, wiring, plumbing, etc., fully-designed and proven.
Hi Alan that is what I meant, I'd take the base mechanics of a road car and then completely restyle it, inside and out.

Does anyone know if you use a registered UK car and then rebody it does it need to go through any IVA test once finished?

If I were to start with something like an SL-C chassis I'd imagine that it will make it more difficult to get the car on the road as I'd have to ensure my designs were IVA compliant.
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Old 23rd August 2012, 04:34 AM   #18
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

Hi Trev!

My job is to be a mech engineer. I'm certainly not the best one faaaar behind what Leupold can do with his F3L car but, even with that in mind, I think that I have an easier technical backgroung than the avergare car guy (technical, not practical! I should show one of my welding attempts someday just for fun)

If you have a hundred pounds to spend, you should buy a book called "race vehicle dynamics" written by the Milliken bros. it takes abou 700 pages to describe, both mathematically and practically how a suspension set up is supposed to work... To sum up a few, it's just as simple as trying to agree a pastor, a rabbi and an immam bout who is The right God!

So I understand that you want something which rolls, with an amazing body and interior, made to your mind (like a hot rod?). Taking a rolling chassis proven and already available is a good idea! at least you have half of the job done (and probably the trickyiest half!)

Talking about the RCR chassis, I spent some time watching them, and for sure the designer forgot to be an idiot... You can fit a lot of different bodies and drivetrain... Putting you own body will be possible. You said that it might limit your wishes, but you will face the same problem with an existing platform. Do not forget that if you take a road car and cut off the body, you will have nothing more that 4 corners with almost no resistance, so in addition to you body, you will have to reconstitue a frame to reinforce it correctly.

RCR chassis advantage is that it is designed to be resistant as is (read naked) and it is not to tall, so plenty of freedom to make your own shape arround.
interior is another story, as I think space is probably more limiting...

My 0.02€

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Old 23rd August 2012, 05:37 AM   #19
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

Thanks for the reply Oliver, very useful information. I guess there are challenges then with either approach so I certainly won't disregard the possible use of an RCR chassis. You also make a valid point about removing the body so I'd certainly have to engineer a new frame structure for the body to work much like Evanta do with the Aston Martin DB7

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Old 23rd August 2012, 07:18 AM   #20
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Re: Building a new sports car, where to start?

Hi Trev,

I'm in much the same boat as you. I've been planning a scratch replica build for about 5 years now! I'm not a design or mechanical engineer, just a automotive marketeer by trade. I've got a history of modding cars, building kit cars, engine transplants in cars and boats. I've pretty much tackled every aspect of the game from welding, roll cages, gearbox and engine rebuilds, composites etc etc and I too want to take that next step and build my own car. Unfortunately life has got in the way of late, baby, house renovation and garage build, but hopefully in the not to distant future I will make that leap. For me I need a challenge that makes my brain work. I'm not worried about how long it may take me to complete, 10-15 years is ok. I don't want to spend huge amounts on it in one hit, so a little bit often is my approach. Finally because I have young kids I won't be able to spend my life in the garage so 'as and when' will have to do.

Anyway I don't think you can do too much research. I recommend researching every option. I've followed many scratch builds including some of the fantastic builds on here, amongst many MrNoo 917 and Fred's Lola are fantastic. I've bought and read books about chassis design, suspension, composites and building cars from scratch etc etc..

The replica I wanted to do has actually now been tackled a few times, not that thats a bad thing but I like rarity. So after chatting with a couple of fellow car builders in years gone by i have been swayed into doing my own design but picking out the elements I like about the replica I wanted to build. I actually have a pretty good 3ds model of the car I acquired a year or so ago (was used in a high end game) and my intention was to build a DIY Cnc and mill it from foam and cover with GF to give me a good accurate(ish) starting point. I was going to build my own chassis etc but in May I came across a really cheap MOT failure Lotus Elise s1 that I will now use as my donor (with an extended wheel base like the Hennessy venom gt). This will save me a lot of time, money and will allow me to chase an age related plate when finally getting it to the IVA test centre.

I thought I'd share this so it gives you some additional ideas on how to go about it. There are many ways as you know. But don't be under any illusion, it will be hard work, take ages and cost a fortune.. But why not give it a go.. It's a hobby at the end of the day.

Good luck!
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