Recent difficulty in moving bulky parts for the car projects (Social Climber and Godiva) prompted a new purchase. Despite some strong advice to the contrary, I purchased a VW transporter dual cab…. an old 1997 one with high km and 4WD no less. It was perhaps most aptly described by Daniel, my mechanic, as having even more things that could go wrong than a regular Tansporter! The advice not to buy one was given by a service manager of a major VW dealership, as service costs and parts are notably expensive from dealers. The issue I had was that at the end of the day it was the only vehicle that met my needs for interior room in a dual cab Ute (yes, I’m very tall), purchase price and a reasonable amount of safety. Now, I have to be honest and note that the deciding factor in making this purchase happen, was some basic research on the internet. In doing so I found out that the prices for some service parts from overseas, such as head gaskets, power steering pumps and dampers were far, far cheaper. Parts information and servicing information came from the relevant enthusiast forums, which is one of the great strengths of a good internet forums. Having mentioned the overseas suppliers, I should note that I did find a local supplier of VW parts that was within 10 – 15% of the overseas price and he got the orders for everything he could supply.
The past three months have been marked not so much by what construction has occurred, but rather by the number of final – if they are truly final – decisions that have been made.
The previously acquired Ford Escort steering rack has been replaced by a Toyota rack. The Escort the rack sat in front of the axle line, whereas in the donor Mitsubishi 380 the rack sits behind the axle line. What this means is that the rack moved in the opposite direction to that desired! This error was simply due to my inattention to the basics of rack operation, although I might halfheartedly plead that a full time job and two young children, in addition to running Race Magazine distracted me somewhat!
Even with years of planning, actually making Godiva has never really been a very linear process, where each step is well planned in advance and flows smoothly from one stage to another. Instead it has been very much like a long staircase in a grand old building where there are pauses along the way to look at the sights and to get your breath back. Recent developments have shown the current period to be one of rapid movement, followed by a pause to look around!
What you see below is the Mitsubishi drivetrain (engine and transaxle) removed from the car, complete with subframe, suspension, struts and discs etc. What I had not expected when this was finally on my garage floor was that the driveshaft would be approximately 40mm lower than the crankshaft. It was a surprise, mostly because you struggle to get a feel for such things in a modern, completely filled engine bay. This means that the centre of gravity of the drivetrain could be considered higher by about 30-40mm than that originally expected, although in reality this simply reflected my ignorance of the specific details of the 380’s layout. With a little thinking, three ‘solutions’ immediately came to mind.
The basic primary and secondary structures for Godiva have been detailed in the previous two issues of Race Magazine. However I have received quite a few questions of how the honeycomb panels actually attach to the chassis and since there seemed to be such interest I thought that this issue should document my research and discussions so far.
In Issue five, we had a brief look at the proposed hybrid chassis that we intend to use as a basis for Godiva. The chassis proposed uses a simple steel SHS spaceframe stiffened with aluminium honeycomb panels to achieve the desired performance. The chassis described so far is not the complete structure of the chassis, as naturally enough, the body of Godiva needs to be attached. But we need to be mindful of our goals and perhaps equal first is the weight target for Godiva.
What you see on the following page is the concept diagram for Godiva’s chassis. You can see that the diagram has ‘layers’ to help make sense of the overall image (note all red/green/black lines are steel tube, coloured sections are honeycomb panel). However, before going into the details as such we should consider the overall design philosophy behind the construction method proposed.
What type of engine would you like to use to power your own ‘supercar’? Does the sound and feel of the engine’s power delivery give you a warm glow inside, even after the drive has finished? Do you have a particular allegiance to a brand and type of engine? Do you only want a manual transmission?
As I said originally I would pay attention to those readers who showed interest in building a ‘Godiva’ of their own. To my surprise the overwhelming request was 95% for a mid/rear engined car and I also admit that it is my current preference as well (note this may have biased some of the reasoning below, so feel free to send me your views if you disagree!).
We now need to start discussing some of the design priorities. Where do we start? Basically we have to decide what ‘Godiva’ is to be designed for and what the priorities are. What I see is that Godiva should be able to take a driver and one passenger fast as possible and as safe as required around any racetrack in Australia or on a ‘Targa’ type road rally event. That’s about it; everything else is negotiable.