While KiddingNoOne continues to live in fantasy land and is in total denial of what the Chevy Volt is (An overweight, fat, pig) here is a company with a proven record of success (They won the X-Prize) that has the right idea:
Both LOOK nice. No competition for the Volt though.
I have to chuckle at all these impractical and or pie in the sky vehicles, most of them 2 seaters that are being touted as lighter than a Volt, which is a 4 seat series hybrid hatchback with serious utility that one can actually buy here in the present reality. AKA reality. Duh. We might as well add this as well
Apples to oranges, and lots of unobtainium and impractical layouts. How many years was the Aptera touted as being the next new thing? 2 seats, 3 wheels, licensed as a motorcycle and could haul about as much cargo as a bike. Yet it still ended up at nearly a ton and its main claim to fame was being on magazine covers and burning up investment cash. Both the projected weight and the price kept creeping up with every new revelation until bankruptcy. Never did prove that it was safe enough to compete in the market as a real car. Of course the backers said it absolutely could. The very same people who kept claiming perennially that it was soon to be available, and that they could sell a vehicle with $20k of EV components for $20k. At some point it appears they were going to 4 wheels and 4 seats, which I bet they figured out was the only route to mass market and funding.
The VW XL1 is headed down a similar road. 2 seats, small interior volume, expensive materials, and bound to be hundreds heavier the closer it gets to market, which it is now another year overdue for even the projected handful of samples. So long as anything can maintain its vaporware status its promoters might as well say it only weights 1000 pounds, can go 1000 miles, and costs $1000.
Meanwhile, here in reality, I had a nice sunny drive in the Volt yesterday afternoon. About 35 miles to destination, came up about a mile short on the battery. But only because the last 4 miles climbed
1100'. On the return trip the engine only ran briefly on the downhill section. All the rest was regen or battery. Then went another 3 miles on the level before the engine started again. Sweet tech. In engine mode it still goes nearly as far past a corner on battery as it spent decelerating and braking. I fill up so seldom that last time I briefly forgot which side the tank was on. I'm surprised how many people recognize the car and want to talk about it. I even got a thumbs up from a usually morose construction flagman the other day. I'm more satisfied with the Volt than I've been with any of my new vehicles for quite a while, which is something considering I swore I'd never buy another domestic model. And I'm not alone.
Yeah I could be finding fault with the Volt and pining for a flying car or whatever instead, but then I'd be taking work from backseat drivers. Fuck, not even backseat drivers, full time chair drivers like Bonkers.
No. Those are post-WWII club racers. I only brought them up because of the "very light car" subject line. They make an interesting contrast with today's crop of superlights.
Those club racers had *horrible* drag coefficients, but low frontal area. The Cd on a Lotus 7 is around 0.70; the same as a bicycle with rider. The Cd for a Hummer H2 is 0.57. For a Volt, around 0.28. A paving brick is 2.1.
They were not designed for economy, nor for top speed. They were designed for acceleration and fast cornering on short road-racing tracks. For the hardy weekend hero-driver, they could be driven to work or school all week. That's the service my 1967 MG Midget performed; it was one of the last of the club racers.
The Volt is on the right track, given the batteries we have to work with. It's still a car for enthusiasts who want to be the first on their block. But so were the Lotus 6 and 7, in a different way.
In the Morgan article the author lovingly refers to those as "thoroughly useless" IIRC. :) I disagree, but then I think motorcycles are useful.
The Volt is aimed at the center mass of the market. It's a car that anyone from granny to enthusiast can enjoy, and it can replace any Camry, Accord, etc. 5 year cost of ownership will beat a lot of competitors.
It could be that it appeals more to techies, but you don't have to know a damned thing to own one. Put the fob in your pocket, unplug the charge cord, press the button on the door handle to unlock the car, hit the start button and you're ready to roll. Anybody who's driven a keyless car could drive one away without a word of instruction. Eventually you have to figure out where the buttons for the charge cord door and the filler door are but they're easy to find. The car has two display screens and a bunch of flush control buttons, but there's no need to touch any of it except to change the auto climate temp or diddle with the radio. If you get a chance, hop in one and take it for a spin. The silence and smoothness are a little weird at first, so is the instant torque. But dead easy to drive and obviously designed for the bulk of the tech to be low profile. You can navigate to the powerflow display but there's little interesting to see there unless you're in engine mode and want to monitor the transitions from regen etc.
Hey, those are fun, Paul. I rode in a Messerschmitt when I was 7; my camp counselor had brought one back from Germany, where he had been in the service. The ride was my prize for something I forget -- maybe for being the first to boil water in a stove made out of a #10 tin can. d8-)
Well, the original Morgan 3-wheelers, from the 1910s, were known as "cyclecars," and soon became some of the original club racers. They gave hell to some highly-touted race cars all over Europe during the '20s and '30s
There was one from the 1930s in Princeton when I was in high school. It had a Matchless V-twin motorcycle engine. Those were the hot ones.
I'm told that they were a little nerve-wracking to drive. The throttle was a lever pivoted in the middle of the steeting wheel, with no spring return, and you had to remember whether to push the lever up or down, depending on which way the steering wheel was turned. Yikes.
I wold like to try one sometime, but I'll tell you frankly: I do so little driving today that it would never pay off. I work at home, and my 2004 Focus ZX-3 has only 75,000 miles on it.
Still, it sounds interesting. As I listen to you, I'm tempted to explain how practical a '67 MG Midget could be for driving back and forth between Michigan and New Jersey. All you had to do was to swap out the 4.22 ring and pinion for the 3.727; remember to replace the heater in October; make sure you put the muffler back on; and have your rainsuit handy. Convertible tops stayed in the garage; they were too much weight. And they were for wimps, anyway. d8-)
I lost interest in British sports cars after watching a 75 Honda Civic turn in the shortest time on a winding parking-lot race course (Autokhana?) against the numerous local rich-boy racers.
So my buddy and I compared how fast we could take the U at the incompleted end of an Interstate, my less powerful 74 Civic vs his MG Midget. We couldn't record the speeds with the unloaded inside wheels slipping, but he spun out before matching me. The Honda had a much better rough-surface suspension with no bump steer.
Despite all the bootlegger-turn abuse I gave it, it died from rust. jsw
There's always something faster. But a '74 or '75 Civic? Possibly the wheeziest car of its era. It could barely get out of its own way. You would not have wanted to run it against MY Midget. d8-)
As for parking-lot gymkhanas, not to do a Gunner here, but my '71 Super Beetle regularly blew off BMWs and 356C Porsches. That's a whole different thing. The fastest gymphana car in the country about that time was a Mini Minor -- not a Cooper, but a bare-bones wheezebox. Where DOT tires were not required, he ran F1 rubber and went around on rails.
I was certainly surprised when it won. I couldn't get his attention long enough to find out what he had done to it. My 74 topped out at about 90 and while I could stay with a 911T on a winding dirt road once it straightened out he vanished like the Enterprise in the distance. jsw
Yes, you had compliant suspension in that thing, but if you ever got it out on a real racetrack, you might have gotten a surprise. Hondas respond well to tuning but that era was really sad in stock form. It had around 50 hp.
My Super Beetle topped out at 95, nearly stock but with a good exhaust and larger jets. That's far higher than the official spec -- the car was known to be faster, and to have more than the official 60 hp. My MG, definitely *not* stock, was good for about 110 with the 3.727 rear installed. But for racing, I ran a 4.22 rear, which accelerated a lot better but which limited top speed due to revs.
Stock hp on a 1275 Midget was 65 hp -- again, known to be underrated. Mine was a little over 100 hp based on acceleration times and comparable measured hp with cars set up similarly. The weight was about the same as your Honda; probably lower in the case of mine, which was stripped.
The only racing I'd try with it was on dirt or ice out in the depopulated flood control area, the playground for any yout with cheap wheels. My friends were doctors' and lawyers' sons with Porsches, BMWs and XKEs so I hadn't a prayer of competing. The guy with the Midget went on to a Mazda rotary pickup that he drove/flew at 120MPH. It helped that our fathers were well connected politically, so we got only warnings. jsw
Unfortunately also the fate of most of the Porsche's I actually like that they don't make now (I think most of what they make now is fn'ugly....) - the 914's - never have had one, but if I was to get a moneypit car that might be it...
I did say "if" I got a moneypit car. I suppose the Miata is fairly similar in something NOT 40 years old, but it would lack the cachet of being a car I thought was really cool when I was a kid. Also it would be following embarassing members of the family in car choice.
May be I ought to build something instead...perhaps even a wood framed job ala Morgan. Haven't really looked into how hard homebuilts are to register in Massachusetts (probably hard - they have 3 laws for everything and at least 2 of them contradict) or Vermont (might be easier.)
I spent a few years driving around an aircooled flat 6, but it wanted a lot more garage time than I could give it to be happy, and it was only
25 or so at the time (Corvair - 6 cylinders, 4 carbs, don't leave home without 300 lbs of tools in the trunk.) The standard Chevy parts were easy and cheap at NAPA, the specialized stuff all came from Clark's.
My 1968 ford is a pain the ass with its age and decrepitude, but since its parts now come from the New Holland dealer, it's not as hard as you might think to find many of them (though it can get awfully expensive.) Top speed of 18 mph, but it digs a mean hole. Not very lightweight.
In the cachet department, consider that the 914 was never really accepted as a Porsche. It was built by VW, and the 4-cyl. is a VW engine.
However, parts are available; it handles better than a Porsche 356 and maybe an early 911; and it's not particularly hard to work on. I'm not a fan, but each to his own.
Caution: The "wood frame" on a Morgan is the body frame. First you build a boat frame (the wooden body frame) and then you bend sheet metal over it. The chassis frame is steel, and conventional.
Kits are a whole lot easier. If you really want to build from scratch, consider the Locost by Ron Champion, or one of its clones.
My first car (a '63, bought new). If you had four carbs, you must have had a '65 or '66, or else you had a John Fitch GT conversion. The '65s and '66s actually were very nice cars, with excellent suspension. Not so the '64s and earlier. But it was the first car I drove at SCCA driver's school, and with the Fitch suspension, it was Ok.
A lot of the engine parts were from a Chevy 348 or 409. Hydraulic lifters were the big one, because they were always getting sticky.
I guess not. If you want an old sports car to play with, be prepared to pay 'way more than they're worth, by any sensible measure.