It's too darn cold to go in the shop, and I have a lot of work to do. To hit our goal of 100 miles per gallon, we have to get MAX's drag down by about a third, and the only way to get there is streamlining. And to hit my personal budget goal (I want MAX to be a car you can reproduce at home for less than $10,000), MAX needs a simple body.
The practical problem with a slick sleek full fiberglass body is it's going to blow the budget — maybe not for me, 'cause I've built car bodies before and I'm willing to pay myself 35 cents an hour to build another one, but the Michelangelo technique (take a big rock and knock off everything that doesn't look like David) works better on paper than it does in practice. A full body from a commercial fiberglasser is going to cost at least few thousand, and if you don't live on the West Coast, how are you going to get it home? So we're going to try simple first ... or to quote Albert Einstein, “as simple as possible, but no simpler.”
The idea is fiberglass fenders — which have to be a bit complicated — with complex curves to direct the air over and around them, joined together by sheet metal body panels with simple curves. And thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I can work out the details in a warm house instead of a cold shop.
This particular miracle is Rhinoceros, a 3D modeling program with a funny name. When I build a real body to match the electronic/virtual body, I'll know the parts fit before I fit them.
Another advantage of working electronically ... you remember a couple months ago when I mentioned the crew from the Science Channel shooting a Brink segment about us? It'll be on tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 30), and they wanted some graphics right away of what MAX will look like when it's done. Well, maybe it'll look like this, kinda. Except with a roof.
P.S. I saw an ad for the Brink episode and it looks like it'll be fun. To look up when it will show in your neck of the woods, visit the Brink website.
Visit the Kinetic Vehicles website for more technical details on MAX.