Sunday, December 28, 2014

Project Dragon (Drakan Spyder) Update #8: CFD, Tooling & More

We've kicked off production of Project Dragon - now officially named Drakan Spyder.  For 2015 we are accepting only 10 orders - 5 of which are sold as of Dec 15, 2014.  This Blog update will discuss the additional CFD work, body tooling, light housing concepts and interior switch details.  We have entered our commercialization phase so things are getting even more exciting!

Aerodynamic Characteristics: 
We asked Dennis Palatov to conduct a Computational Fluid Dynamics analysis on our completed Spyder body to determine lift/downforce, drag and radiator cooling flow.  Solidworks Flow Simulation 2012 was used using the solid models supplied by our partners Zukun.  The simulations were run with and without wings.  Test conditions were set at 100mph at sea level with a moving ground plane and rotating surface of the tires.  The Palatov D2 has undergone both simulation and observation so we have a good 'control' for comparison.
Test results:  Without wings the car creates about 138lbf of total lift and 295lbf of total drag.  This is very similar to the D2 numbers.  Radiator cooling flow also appears to behave similar to the D2.  This is especially critical as we want to ensure adequate cooling exists in hot conditions as we previously tested.  With wings the Spyder achieves 15lbf of downforce in the low rear wing position and with the rear wing raised 5" total downforce goes up to 122lbf.  Total drag is 307lbf (low) and 322 lbf (high), respectively.  The windshield clearly causes some reduction in overall effectiveness of the rear wing.  We'll eventually offer a race version of the car that would lack the windshield.    

Conclusion:  This analysis suggests that the Drakan Spyder design has benign aero characteristics in the base (no wings) configuration.  With wings, modest downforce can be achieved with enhanced high speed stability.  The drag numbers also suggests that top speed may be limited to ~155mph.  We think we may be able to achieve both downforce and reduce drag if we consider using a dual element rear wing as we had designed for the Atom2.  See it: HERE.  Because 155mph is not really enough...;^)

Bodywork: Lancair

We visited our body supplier Lancair in early Dec. to kick off the bodywork tooling.  Lancair are a composites manufacturer who specializes in carbon fiber airplanes.  They are located in beautiful Bend, OR.

We spent the day working with them to finalize our schedule.  Our plan suggests the first body will be ready in March for test fitment.  The first plugs are underway (as of this writing) and expected to be done in Jan2015.  The engine lid is shown below.

engine lid
Lancair produce their airplanes with prepreg carbonfiber.  They also use a product called e-glass that is a prepreg fiberglass that is strong and light.  We will use this material on the majority of our body.  There may be a couple applications like our windshield base that will be done in carbon.

Interior switch panel: Concepts

Our test mule had rudimentary switches that we used to run our car on the track.  Placement of the switches has been scrutinized and we've landed on a basic layout that we feel should work for the Drakan.  The switches will be very simple with back lighting.  
This switch panel will sit to the right of the steering wheel with the 'sector111' logo centered over the gear shifter.  All the switches are easily within reach of the driver.  Ergonomic considerations can be as challenging as performance targets when designing a car.  We've spent an inordinate amount of time sweating the details.  The final panel will be prototyped in January.  

We have spec'd in Hella DOT legal lights for all areas of the car.  LED lights have been used in all instances except the headlights which are Bi-Xenon.  We have developed a housing concept that took inspiration from tactical tools like flashlights, gun scopes, etc.  

We are getting these prototyped as well to see how they look and work.  Ultimately our goal is create lights that can be removed fairly easily for track use.  Overall, I'm very happy with our design and can't wait to get them.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Track Testing the Alfa Romeo 4C

We spent a couple of days at Spring Mountain running the new Alfa Romeo 4C. It is a fun car that offers real performance for a broad range of drivers.  These cars are designed to work in all kinds of weather conditions so naturally some weaknesses are found on the track.  Overall it is a fun car and I think that Alfa have hit a homerun.  In a nutshell: Good Handling, Good Brakes and Excellent Acceleration!

Two different tracks were run the 2.1 East and the 2.9 mile Stewart A.  We ran the 2.1 with the bowl in the morning and then as shown above in the afternoon.  The 2.9 mile course is a fast course - maybe not the best for this car but it did well.

Check out the video:

I ran the car in Dynamic Mode for two sessions and then switched to Race Mode for the remainder of the testing - though I did forget on one session.  I wish it could be left on permanently!  Even a beginner will be able to drive this car well as it has approachable performance and electronic aids that will step in.  When I turned on Race Mode, traction control was disabled.  The car remained very benign at the limit and easy to control.  I have experience driving Atoms, Monos and our new Drakan Spyder so this car was a sweetheart in comparison.

We had two clients out having fun with us, one in a highly modified FRS and the other in his MP4-12C.  The FRS was quick with uprated everything so Jack was able to give me some heat under braking (he car was better) and with cornering speed.  Straight acceleration was no comparison though - even with his E85 tune.  The Mac was in another league.  I took a few laps in it and wow, it was awesome.  At least until the carbon brake rotors started to have problems.  This was the second time Chris brought out this car and the second time it failed.  He keeps his Elise with us as it is fun and more reliable - and clearly cheaper to maintain!

4C track parts are still in the works and this testing has revealed a few items that are needed. We have already begun working with Girodisc on lighter rotors - much like our well proven ULTRAdiscs. We have also started to look for more aggressive brake pads. Track wheels will also be welcome. The exhaust sounded good on track but the drone on the way to the track became overly tiring. Race seats and harnesses will be a welcome addition for any serious track work.

 We've begun offering some products for the 4C and have a few on our website now. We'll continue to follow the proven path we paved for the Lotus Elise. The 4C is a true alternative to the Lotus and we'll develop a pile of molto tasty bits.

MPG on the 4C was 27.5 up until I got to the track - it then plummeted to 7.5 MPG.  8^)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Alfa Romeo 4C - Introductory impressions of our newest car

We took delivery of a new Alfa Romeo 4C last week.  As many of you know, this car fits perfectly into our specialty - lightweight sportscars.  It is very much like the Lotus Elise/Exige so we have been anxious for its arrival for years.  Boutique sports cars tend to suffer from delayed introductions.  This one is no exception as it has been expected for 2+ years.  Early reports from some of my auto industry friends was that the 4C has the size/performance of the Elise but with the refinement of the Evora.  This blog will discuss the car and our initial impressions.  In a nutshell, the wait has been worth it!

We've partnered with Suspension Peformance in Mountain View, CA and purchased this car so we can jointly develop some molto tasty bits.  We've worked with them for years and know several great solutions will result.  We bought the car from Findlay Alfa in Henderson, NV as they were willing to sell us the car at sticker.  John and Greg at Findlay were great to work with.  I met some more of their staff and they truly made the delivery a great experience.  Give them a call if you are in the market (702)982-4888.

So what are the specs on this beauty?  It is expected to weigh approximately 2465lbs.  We will weigh on our scales soon and report in a future blog.  It has a 240 hp inline 4 - turbo with 6spd Auto/Man - twin clutch.  2 seats and mid engine.  The car is a Launch Edition (56/500) car so it was optioned to the hilt.  The Alfa Rosso color is a really rich red that dials up the sex appeal to 11.  

Our first stop with the 4C was to our local clear bra installer, ClearPro.  We had Lance and his team install some protection film to the front of the car and some other vulnerable areas including trunk and interior areas.  These type of cars see a fair amount of stone impingement so it is good to protect it sooner than later.

I took the 4C out for a full day of driving up to Los Angeles.  Obviously this is not the ideal first trip but I wanted to get some break-in miles on her and visit several of our vendors to get a start on product development.  Several products are in the pipeline as a result.  My driving consisted of mostly highway but I did manage to drive one canyon up in the Valley.

Driving impressions:

  • Handling
    • The car handles well.  The ride is very firm - much like a Sport Pack equipped Elise/Exige.  The suspension coupled with big wheels/low profile tires resulted in a stiff ride that I would not choose for a daily commute on rough roads.  This car was tuned for performance driving and I will take her to the track and canyons this coming week.  I suspect the standard wheels/suspension may be the better choice for cars that see more use on rough streets.
  • Brakes
    • The brake pedal felt firm and works well.  I did not attempt any panic stops but pushed hard in the canyon and they felt fine. 
  • Ergonomics
    • The seats were supportive.  The switches are all good.  The stereo has Bluetooth so it added some convenience.  I made a few calls and the performance was OK.  I was able to stream music from my phone so that made the traffic a bit more bearable.  The dead pedal is excellent. Visibility is poor to the sides and rear as expected. The dash works fine.  I still prefer old school gauges with needles.  This modern dash was good and the display changes based on the driving mode selected.
  • Shifting
    • Auto mode shifting was not very smooth.  Not sure if this ECU is learning my driving style and then will get better?  Switching into the Manual mode was far better.  Shifts were fast and smooth.  Though I did appreciate Auto while stuck in LA traffic jams.  
  • Acceleration
    • The car is fast!  Mid-range torque seems excellent as the car is always willing to accelerate like a scalded cat.  It feels as fast as any stock Elise/Exige.
  • Comfort
    • Seats are comfortable.  The car is loud inside.  It is not as quiet as the Lotus Evora - much more like an Elise.  Tire noise and frankly exhaust drone was the biggest contributor.  I think that 6th gear cruising on the freeway with this exhaust was not great.  Lack of interior storage is a clear issue with the car.  This car is really focused on being a fun to drive toy than a daily driver - no surprise.
  • Fit & Finish
    • The 4C has a very nice interior.  This is the Launch Edition so it has several carbon parts that really make it look great.  The interior carbon tub was much better finished than an early model I had seen.  The quality of the interior materials is good.  Panel gaps are OK.  The wheels look good to me though it seems the younger crowd does not like them as much as older guys like me - they remind me of older wheels found on other cool sportscars.
  • Sound
    • The exhaust sound good at idle.  After that it is not really that exciting.  Wastegate and turbo noises emanate from the rear of the car.  I think folks who like these sounds will be happy - I'm less enthusiastic. 
We placed the 4C on the lift and began discovering other things that will get covered in future blogs.  I plan to take her to Spring Mtn next weekend and run on track.  I expect it to be plenty of fun!  

Overall I am pleased with this car.  Alfa have struck a good balance.  Yes, it is heavier than the Elise/Exige but it still feels much lighter than an Evora.  The car feels small and nimble and performs like a true Elise alternative.  The lack of a manual is a drag but the future is paddle shift and frankly, it helps broaden the market appeal for a car as narrowly focused as the 4C.  Good job Alfa - thank you for bringing a light sportscar to the US!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tech Tip: Suspension Setup

We strongly believe that setting up your car is one of the most important improvements you can make to the performance of your vehicle. Light weight sports cars are very sensitive and respond well to changes in suspension setup. Ride heights, camber, and toe settings are all things that you can change for little to no cost (if you do the work yourself) that can lower lap times and make your car more enjoyable to drive. This post is not intended to be a comprehensive setup guide nor a claim that the setup we recommend is the best for every situation. What our setup will do, is make sure that you start out with a car that handles in a way that is considered good by the vast majority of drivers.  

The first step to getting your suspension setup is to make sure that everything you currently have on the car is in good working order. Inspect all your suspension pivot points, making sure nothing is worn or loose. Replace anything that is questionable. We recommend torqueing all bolts to spec then marking them with a paint marker. This will allow you to check the torques in the future with a quick visual inspection.  See our Sector111 60pt Prep.

Now you can setup your car following these steps:

1.      Set the ride height.  
2.      Set camber.
3.      Set toe.

Recommended settings for a Elsie/Exige street/track car with R-compound tires.

Ride height
125 +/- 3mm
130 +/- 3mm
-2.4° to -2.7°
Toe (total)
3mm total toe in

Recommended settings for a track Elise/Exige car with slick tires.

Ride height
120 +/- 3mm
125 +/- 3mm
Toe (total)
0 - 1mm toe out
3mm total toe in
  •  To set the camber, remove all your stock shims as well as the ABS shim. You may need to install V2 Arms or machine your stock steering arms to obtain optimal camber
  • While a lower ride height is possible, we find the suspension works best at these recommended heights and the chance of scraping the bottom of your car is less.  If you want to go lower, we suggest our raceUPRIGHTs.


Write it down!
It is always a good idea to write down your alignment settings and then note how the car performs. Write down any changes you make and record the results. This is the best way to get the car dialed in exactly how you like it. 

How many turns?
If you are going to be adjusting your suspension or doing much tuning, it is a good idea to figure out how much toe changes with each ¼ turn of your tie rods, how much camber changes by adding or removing a shim, and how much ride height changes with each half turn of the spring perch. If you write this information down you can now make minor adjustments to your car without needing to measure anything. Of course once you are done tweaking, it would be a good idea to measure where everything is at.

Play with it.
We encourage you to play with suspension settings on your own and deviate from the recommended setup

There are many levels to setting up a car and the difficulties, as well as results, depend on how precise you want to get and the tools you have available.
For a more in depth explanation of the topic of alignment and setup, see the videos from our alignment seminar HERE

Monday, November 3, 2014

New Sector111 Race Elise Build: White Rascal

We have been searching for a crashed Elise that we could build into a Spec Elise track car since selling our Exige S.  We finally snagged one from our good friend Ryan.  This car showed up a couple weeks ago and we cleaned it up a bit and organized our build plan.  Essentially this car will be another test mule for us in addition to potentially becoming a rental car for Lotus Cup racing.  As a result, we will keep the build fairly simple.  If any of you are interested in this car, let us know.  We would be happy to build it to your spec...

The car is stock though it came missing many bits.  It had suffered a crash that damaged both clams, one side sill and a door.  We will replace the clams with our Spec Elise clams front and rear as several clients have done in Lotus Cup.  These clams are lighter and easier to repair than stock.  Plus they lack the openings for lights which is another advantage that prevents those items from popping out during a race.  Don't ask us how we know this...The chassis is straight and undamaged so we will simply clean her up and bolt on our tasty bits.

The car will run as a normally aspirated car to start.  Eventually we may install our KATANA265.  The brakes and suspension will all be upgraded.  We'll address the typical failure areas like radiator, steering rack, shift cables.  Reliability and safety are our top goals so we will avoid any drastic modifications.  Our R3cage will get installed along with harnesses a race seat and fire extinguisher.  The TrackTrilogy of Terror will be taken care of right away as well.

We've named this car the White Rascal.  You'll have to ask us why next time you call us or see us.  The car is actually silver so we may be off a bit...We are working on this car in between client's cars so it may take us until the end of the year to have her running.

Really Filthy
Less Filthy

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Project Dragon Update #7: Extreme Track Test

We headed back to Spring Mountain for two more days of track testing on Sept 5th & 6th.  We wanted to see how the Dragon would fare in extreme heat with a pro in the car.  Testing in these conditions will ensure that clients have a reliable car on the street or track.  I drove it on the first day and we had our pro, Dave, run her on the second.

I drove the car on Friday to shake it down and confirm some of the fixes from our last track day.  The car ran well with acceptable oil pressures and coolant temps.  Coolant temps hovered around 206degF while on track and creeped up to 212degF when I exited the track without a cool down lap.  The oil pressures also looked very good with the lowest #s seen at hot idle (~14psi).  The PCV was vented with a foam filter that made a big mess and ended my day after 50 miles of track time.  I rigged up a catch can in anticipation of the next day.
On the second day, we ran the Mansell course.  There are two corners at SMMR called Pahrump 1&2 that are excellent oil starvation corners.  In fact they are so good that GM modeled these same corners at their Milford Proving Grounds back in MI.   See image above.

Dave Thilenius rolled in Friday eve so we could get a start on Saturday morning.  Dave is our pro driver and IMSA champ, who many of you already know has tested many of our cars.  We experienced ambient temperatures from a low of 88degF up to 102deg F in our last session.  Ambient temps really dictate how cool a car will run and higher temps will challenge any car run on track.  Dave ran several sessions, starting with a 3 lap session to learn the car and get her warmed up.  The Mansell configuration has some straights that allow the Dragon to really stretch its legs.  

We ran 113 miles on the car over the course of several sessions.  Dave averaged about 208-209 degF Coolant temps and Oil pressures that averaged about 29psi.  Dave got her up to 149mph on a couple portions of the track.   The fastest lap that he managed was a 2min31s lap.  This came during the first hot lap in our last session.  
During that last session, Dave accidentally shut the car off - we positioned our ignition switch a bit too close to the gear lever.  The chart above is from the point that he fired the car back up until he came off the track.  This session was also the hottest ambient at 102degF.  You can see that the peak temps we experienced were about 212degF.  This was a 10 lap session so we are happy with the cooling capacity of the car.  Oil pressure also proved to be good.  The data shown below is also from the last session.  I've circled the areas that define oil pressure in turns Pahrump 1 & 2.  The lowest numbers come during heavy braking but the engine is not under load and frankly we are still above the minimum specs recommended by GM at that rpm.  The car is running Toyo R888s and has no aero.  We will test again with slicks and wings.  A Daily Dry Sump solution has already been developed for the car and will be recommended for cars running heavily on track with slicks and wings.  I believe as is, the car is suitable for occasional track days - though heat management is still an issue that caused us some headache.

We intentionally ran the car with the factory cats that come with the eRod package.  This car exists because of the smog compliant powertrain package.  We know there are clients that want to register the car in certain states that require kit cars to meet smog tests.  I felt that testing the car, in a smog compliant state, was critical.  Frankly, we will recommend that anyone that is focused on trackdays should consider a decat.

The heat generated by the exhausts system (especially the cats) created some more collateral damage.  The balljoints in the rear arms were beginning to leak,  The trans cooler was located too close and resulted in hot trans fluid.  This caused the car to shift very poorly in the last session.  We will upgrade to higher weight trans fluid to combat this issue.  Though better heat shielding is a must on this car.  We have some work to do but it is a straight forward issue to solve.

At the end the day, the car inexplicably stalled and would not restart.  We thought we may have locked up the engine.  We dumped the oil, checked the spark plugs, scoped the cylinders and even ran a leakdown. Everything looked fine.   No issues with the engine.  In fact she started right up after cooling down.  We suspect the starter may have overheated and refused to crank over the engine.  Heat shielding is an absolute must...Palatov have actually sent us some shields that will solve some of the issues.

Watch our quick video:

We also took the time to test out some of the various suspension settings offered by the novel bell crank set-up.  Ultimately we found that the softest settings were best and we ran the best time with that configuration.  Thorough performance tuning will come at a later date.  This was our first stab at it but not a comprehensive one.

We will continue our development.  The quotes on tooling for the Spyder body, shown above are coming in now.  We continue to press ahead...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Project Dragon Update #6: Initial Track Test - the Shakedown!

We took the Dragon to Spring Mountain Motor Resort (SMMR) this past weekend for its initial shakedown.  Our shop at SMMR makes for a convenient location for testing.  We also had a few clients with us so made this into a fun weekend.  The Dragon proved to be every bit as fast as we expected.  The weekend proved fruitful as we learned plenty about the car - good and bad.

Testing protocol:
We started with a plan to gradually run the car in and break-in various components.  We ran a total of 6 sessions that started with 2 laps and built up to 7 laps.  The guys evaluated the car after each session to document.  SMMR has dozens of configurations and we ran the Senna course.  This 2.6mile track has some high speed sections and also features some elevation change and a high g banked (bowl) turn.  This track is mostly smooth but had a few good bumps to test the suspension of the Dragon.  We ran the car on the soft setting with the adjustable bell cranks.  We had the stock Toyo R888 tires.  We ran out of time and did not have the brake bias adjuster installed.  We left the rear clam and side pod covers off.  Ambient temps ranged from low 80s to low 90s deg F.  Set the tire pressures to Palatov recommendations.

Driving impressions:
The Dragon is a monster.  The power is awesome as it accelerates ferociously!  The LS3 engine hits rev limiter at 6.5k but the car makes so much torque that I was able to run the track in 3rd and 4th gears.  Power application is something you must manage carefully as the torque is really immense.  The car accelerates smoothly and I found the pedal progression was good.  I could only use wide open throttle a few times per lap as the car is so powerful.  

The handling is excellent and was very predictable.  The car manages bumps and curbs with excellent composure.  Too much gas at the wrong time gets the rear coming out - luckily the handling is excellent and you can catch the car.  I had more than one occasion that required some opposite lock to maintain my line.  Grip is really high - I can only image how good it will feel with slicks.  One of our clients, Bob, was chasing me in his Spec:Race Atom and was impressed with the acceleration and cornering.  

Pedal position was good and heel/toe downshifts were no problem.  The steering and brakes are unassisted so the feel is excellent.  Some muscle is required to drive the car.  You get out of the car feeling like you had a workout!  The car lacked a dead pedal which is something we should add.  The clutch effort on this car was OK on track but too high on the street for regular use.  We have a new pressure plate from the 911 Turbo that should reduce effort.  The Cosworth dash worked well - the rpms were especially easy to read.  Seating position is good, though the seat is too big for me.  It should easily accommodate much larger clients than a Lotus!

Technical evaluation:

I ran the car with and without passengers and then after each session the guys evaluated the car and recorded any pertinent info.  We completed a total of 25 laps and 65 miles of track testing.  Water temps and oil pressure were two critical powertrain criteria that we wanted to monitor.  We were happy to see that both remain in check during our testing. See below:
  • Coolant temps stayed under 210deg F and generally remained under 200 deg F.
  • Oil pressure
    • at hot idle = 18 psi
    • on track = 35-55psi
Of course we came out to track test the car to find any weaknesses.  We found a couple.  After our last session, we found that the rear CV boot came loose on the passenger side.  The guys repacked it with grease and clamped it on.  A follow-up call with Palatov revealed that a better boot is on its way.  

I had been noticing that the shifting effort was going up on the car as the day progressed and finally Carlos noted it was not shifting after the last session.  The guys tore apart the shifter and disconnected the cables and found that the cross gate cable was seized.  These cables run within 5" of the ceramic coated cat.  The cat gets very hot during use - especially when run on a track at wide open throttle.  The cable housing was not shielded from the heat.  After returning, we spoke with our cable supplier and have identified a better solution.  We will place both cables into a heat shield sleeve to make sure this does not happen again.  New high temp cables should be with us by the end of the week.

 Overall it was a productive weekend.  We will return to SMMR in the next two weeks and test again.  We have some more dash and sensor calibration to do before we return.  If we can run a solid day without any issues, we will be ready for man Dave T to put the Dragon to a complete test.  I suspect he will be able to stay at WOT a bit longer than I...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Project Dragon Update #5: Wiring

This past week/weekend was devoted to finishing the wiring on Project Dragon.  We removed the D2 bodywork and started running wires.  We have placed reliability as a very important criteria for us with this car so Ryan has been using OE connectors and other high quality components for the harness.

The car has a couple of inline Delphi connectors being used between the firewall to ease any changes we need to make during our development process.  We decided to to use the GM fuse/relay box that comes with the eRod engine.  It is a tried and true component that has all the functionality that we need.  We have located it at the front of the car above the battery.  Owners will have quick access to it by removing the hood of the Dragon - using quarter turn fasteners.

OE fusebox

Wiring switch panel
 Ryan wired up the switches for the car, which we tested and then finally mounted this week.  These switches are not representative of our final interior.  They are simply developmental parts so we can proceed to test the mechanical aspects of the car.  Our final design is coming soon.
Checking continuity
Tools of the trade

We wired up the Hella lights - Bi-Xenon headlights and LED turn indicators, taillights and reverse lamp.  We will also include a rear rain light to add additional visibility - a smart choice for small and low cars.  We created some simple temporary harnesses for these lights as we knew changes would be required once the final mounts were developed.

The Cosworth dash features a configurable display that we are now sorting.  We will be data logging water and oil temp along with oil pressure during our track testing.  We are running the GM calibration so don't expect to have any air/fuel ratio related problems.  Running the car at SMMR, in the heat of the summer, will be a good test of its durability.  We expect the street reliability of the car to be assured if we can make sure it lives after track abuse.  Wide open throttle for extended periods of time - as experienced on track - it an excellent way to test the durability of a car.  Dave T. will be testing Project Dragon for us this month.

Monday, July 28, 2014

BAC Mono: Made To Measure Seat & Steering Wheel

A couple of exciting new options are in the works for the Mono.  Made To Measure (MTM) seat and steering wheel are two new options that allow perfect fitment for a driver.  These options require a visit to Liverpool as creating these MTM items require a great deal of attention to detail.  Much like a bespoke suit from Saville Row, these new options require the assistance of a "tailor'.  Trevor & Alex Powell are the tailors who made my seat insert and we blogged about their work: HERE.  These guys love their work and provide some hilarious banter during the process.  A trip to Liverpool also affords the client a great chance to meet the team at BAC and see the new factory.

The MTM seat is made of a special seat shell/frame.  See below.  This carbon fiber frame is open on the back side and allows for maximum width.  This bolts into the chassis like the stock seat shell.

A foam seat is poured into the cavity and forms to the backside of the driver.  This option will accommodate drivers of all sizes and will offer an excellent fit - at least for the owner of the car!  This option is recommended for drivers with larger waist/hip sizes.

Below you can see a client being test fit.  He is wearing his race suit (another bespoke BAC option) as the foam is very exacting and will conform to the suit.  He is sitting in the seat and will have to remain for about an hour as the foam sets.  Read our previous Blog to learn more about this process and about Trevor and Alex.

The Made To Measure steering wheel is an option that I have not yet seen.  Essentially there a grip that will get molded to your hand/glove.  The top and bottom of the steering wheel will get a carbon fiber rim.  The grip itself will be either rubber or another material (TBD).

These options can be ordered separately or together.  We think they are an exciting addition to an already very exciting car!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Project Dragon Update #4: An 'RC car-like' Chassis Concept

One of the key concepts we have been developing with Project Dragon is the ability to quickly install different bodies.  This idea would allow the owner to change the look/function of his Dragon to suit his mood or how he plans to use it that day.  Much like a RC car, you would have a running chassis that could be driven without a body.  Like an Ariel Atom, it would need to feature simple hardware and provisions for attaching the bodywork.  We recognize that the fit and finish would be very basic but that is in keeping with the ethos of this hard-core, purist sportscar.

The Palatov rolling chassis is a spaceframe design that makes for a cost effective yet performance oriented solution.  We call the chassis the Morphx concept and are looking to start with 3 body styles: Coupe, Race & Spyder.  Each one looks different from one another and will be focused on very specific functions with some clear crossover.  This will allow owners to pick their favorite to start and give them the ability to swap over to a different body style if they would like.

 We have worked with several designers and reviewed some very exciting designs.  The most elemental one that we developed is being labeled our 'Race' version.  This body style will appeal to the trackday enthusiast and country club racer.  The car is simple with easy to remove bodywork and minimal body parts that need to be fixed or replaced in the event of a crash.  It features an overhead cage for safety yet is an open car that provides excellent visibility and excitement.  This version is our homage to the Ariel Atom - a car we obviously love.
The design was originally penned by Jason Hill with 3D surfacing completed by Keage Concepts and Body engineering by Customs Factory.  I love the simplicity of this design and think it works well as an elemental street or track car.  We know the design is polarizing as the feedback has been either hot or cold.  With an aerokit (front & rear wings/diffuser) this design gets even more aggressive.  Over the last 30 years I have refined my design sense and know what I like.  This Race version speaks to me.  I recognize that polarizing designs often force people out of their comfort zones.  Trying to deliver a design that will age well, while trying to break new ground, is a huge challenge.   I don't think this design is avant-garde but I believe it will age well and most importantly, fit the function it was design to fulfill.

The Coupe is essentially the Palatov D2 body that is in production now.  The white car is our test mule that we will put through the paces in July.  This body style features a windshield/wiper kit that will allow for street registration in most states when coupled with the GM eRod engine.  We view the Coupe & Race versions as the two bodies that are the most interchangeable.

The third version is a very exciting one that holds much promise.  I like this one best and call it the Spyder.
This body style has received universal praise from everyone who has seen it.  Many people have likened the styling to the KTM X-bow and BAC Mono.  I think that is high praise indeed!  We think it will make a wicked street car that is sure to turn heads where ever it goes.  This body was designed and engineered by Zukun Plan.  The cut down windscreen is a tribute to the old spyders/speedsters and will surely be loved by those who want to drive around with the wind in their hair and bugs in their teeth...

This body style requires deleting the overhead cage found in the Race version.  Luckily Palatov have engineered the chassis to be as strong and stiff without the overhead cage.  The Spyder still has overhead roll-over protection in the form of two hoops that are triangulated to the rear.  We are still working on aspects of the styling to get it ready for production.

Yes, we are crazy about light weight cars.  I think the world would be a better place with a V8-powered, mid-engined, sportscar that comes in various body styles...8^)