Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Light Car (prototype)

In answer to those who have recently asked, "why, exactly, is the Ricardipus family buying yet another economy car instead of one of those really, really expensive Italian sports cars he keeps going on about", I present a project that has been in the works here, courtesy of rookie automobile designer Junior Ricardipus #1. The following description has been taken from the relevant engineering documents, and may be technical in nature. Be warned.


Concept Drawing
Fig. 1: Concept Drawing

The vehicle is a single-seat, open-wheel design with a bubble canopy [see Concept Drawing, Fig. 1]. The wedge-shaped body tapers to the front in both the vertical and horizontal dimensions, although the bottom of the car is flat and horizontal in order to minimize drag [Figs. 2 and 3: Side and Front views]. There is a nose wing to provide added downforce at high speed, and the front wheels are set far back in order to avoid this wing [Fig. 2], which is underslung from the chassis.

Side View
Fig. 2: Side View, Engineering Diagram

Fig. 3: Front View, Engineering Diagram

The rear wheels are set somewhat far forward, directly under the engine. The vehicle thus has a very short wheelbase, although the track is fairly wide [Top View, Fig. 4]. Thus, the car is likely to corner tightly, but may become unstable in high-speed corners given its very high engine power. Because of the wedge shape, the front track is considerably narrower than the rear. This is accentuated in the prototype model by the use of much wider tires on the rear driving wheels than on the front [not seen in these drawings].

Top View
Fig. 4: Top View, Engineering Diagram

The powerplant is a V-14 gasoline engine. When the designer was given the option of zero, single- or twin-turbochargers, "zero" was emphatically selected and thus the engine is normally aspirated. Exhaust is vented via quad rear exhausts [visible in the top view, Fig. 4]. Notably absent from the concept drawings are any air intakes or radiators, and therefore the air supply to the engine will need some attention during the development process. The gasoline engine is reasonably expected to generate at least 2,000 bhp, although this has yet to be tested in prototype. Original top-speed estimates of three trillion kph seem somewhat ambitious, and a later goal of being the second-fastest car in the world (since the 14 cylinders are the second-highest number after the Bugatti Veyron's 16) seems more reasonable. This would put the car's top speed somewhere near 350 kph. Notwithstanding, the name "Light Car" has been adopted in order to reflect the original concept of creating a vehicle capable of exceeding the speed of light.

Engine power is augmented with dual solar panels situated laterally on the top deck, just to the rear of the driver [visible in all drawings, but most obvious in top and front views]. The actual technology by which this solar energy will be converted to engine horsepower is still under development.

Front-end downforce is achieved with an F1-style wing [visible in all views], which has been an integral part of the design concept from the beginning. Attempts to convince the designer that a rear spoiler was required in order to add tail-end downforce at high speeds were met with resistance, and the final design therefore omits any kind of rear wing. The design team will attempt to balance the chassis so that weight from the engine, which is located toward the rear of the vehicle [see top view in Fig. 4], keeps the rear (driving) wheels on the ground at high speeds.

At present, an engineering prototype "mule" has been constructed, largely of cardboard and plastic in order to save weight, and at approximately 1:12 scale. It is yellow with orange flames, and reliably achieves speeds of up to 5 kph. Further development is ongoing. Reports of spy camera photos being available have, for the time being, been greatly exaggerated.


The Wrath of Dawn said...


"It's just a model."

#Debi said...

LOL @ Dawn!

It appears that your progeny is destined to drive Formula cars. Who shall be his sponsor? (Do formula cars even have sponsors?)

zabnq: the place in Quebec where you will have to go to finance this project...

Ricardipus said...

Debi - "Zabnq Racing International". Sounds good.

He could practise driving at Mosport - it's about an hour from here.

rpg said...

I do hope you're in touch with the good people at Sniff Petrol.

Ricardipus said...

Bwaaaaaaaaaah ha ah aha ha! Thanks for that, rpg... that article about Subaru stereos was priceless.

john.g. said...

Is junior RP the designer at 'Super Aguri'?

rpg said...

You should check out the archives, too - some super 'not an advertisement's from 2005 (maybe '04) when Rover was going under.

I think my favourite was "It's shagged your sister".

Ricardipus said...

John - I think he might be a secret designer for Lotus, actually.

Viz: Exige.