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^)