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MAX Update No. 22: Learn to Drive Stick Shift with MAX

1/16/2009 4:20:36 PM

Tags: MAX, Auto X Prize, 100 mpg, stick shift

The Saturday before The EG, Mother Earth News sent a photojournalist down to make sure MAX was for real (it's amazing the things I can do with Photoshop... ). Katherine Loeck is a couple of generations younger than me, so sports car nostalgia isn't part of her program (nostalgia isn't what it used to be, I'll tell you...) but she dug MAX anyway.

She was having so much fun in the passenger's seat that I said, “You should drive.” Then she said she'd love to, but she didn't know how to drive a stick shift.

“Really?”

Yes, really. She'd tried driving her dad's 'Vette once but that hadn't gone well.

I would imagine it hadn't. A Corvette does not seem like an ideal driver's ed car. It's heavy, the clutch is heavy, and there's only a small difference in throttle pedal position between too-little-and-stalled-the-engine and too-much-and-smoking-the-tires.

“Perfect!” said I. “MAX is a perfect way to learn to drive a stick. Every high school should have one.”

MAX is light, the engine puts out huge torque at low rpm, the clutch is easy to push, and with the governor limiting the engine to 3000 rpm and 32 horsepower, it's not going to get away from you if you give it too much throttle. So Katherine and I swapped seats.

 

Learn to drive stick shift 
Photo by Jack McCornack
 

Katherine pushed in the clutch. I put the gearshift in first.

“Don't bother with the throttle, just let the clutch out slowly.”

She did. Chug chug chugchugchug, MAX pulled forward smoothly, idling at walking speed.

“Good, push in the clutch and do it again,” I said. “Uh, push the brake to make it stop.”

She did. She did it again. And again and again, 20 times without stalling the engine. She was wowed by how easy MAX is to operate. I tried not to look surprised but I'll tell you, it was sure different from when I was first learning the clutch/throttle/brakedance some 44 years ago. We moved on to first-to-second shifts, second-to-first downshifts, not bad for Lesson 1.

She's not ready for the street yet, but she will be soon enough; I'm sure we'll do a follow-up to this update when the weather warms up again.


Browse previous MAX Updates.
Read the introductory MAX article, Here Comes the 100-mpg Car.
Visit the Kinetic Vehicles website for more technical details on MAX.


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Post a comment below.

 

Jack McCornack
1/28/2009 11:31:35 AM
Wayne, the suggestions are appreciated, and probably one of theese updates will compile the suggestions we're using from the comments--there have been a number of good ones and MAX is better for them. Sadly, budget constraints have forced us to forsake Top Ramen and other gourmet cuisine, but we have plenty of oatmeal. If we need to go with a full fiberglass nose, the '53 Type R fenders would be a good inspiration, the only problem is the compound curves--which would be difficult and expensive to recreate at home.

Wayne_1
1/28/2009 4:53:21 AM
OK Jack I have now been to your site and been to other Mother sites, I will sleep outside, be night watchman and eat Raman Noodles. You have some fantastic things going on and I apologize for being so presumptuous as to make any suggestions. We really do think along the same lines, difference is you are doing it while I just dream. Love the Whippet design, I am an old biker unable to ride due to back also. Please let me come work for you,I'll even buy my own noodles.

Wayne_1
1/28/2009 4:16:54 AM
Cool Jack, I am very pleased to know you even read this. Was thinking that louver vents on sides of hood would help evacuate some of the turbulent air from under hood and they are old style hot-rod roadster cool. I own a 53 Bentley RType that has wonderful front fenders, similar design would be a nice aerodynamic shape for MAX and are very retro cool.There is a car in the first minute of the movie 'Nice Dreams" that would be a great shape for the nose, sorry I don't know the make and model but some of the 30's Plymouths had a similar design and it would reduce a lot of drag. I was fortunate enough to know a man in the 70's that invented a very simple carburetor adapter that allowed a car to run on 40% of the air and fuel {60%reduced jets}with equal or better power,I drove the car, an early 70's Wildcat 225 with a 350 Chevy engine,that he claimed got 50+ mpg {with shade-tree measurements} on interstate,it had plenty of power. He also ran it on a 225ci straight 6 cylinder Chevy in Nascar late-model that produced similar power to the 350's the other guys ran, actually he could have won many of the races but they would have torn his engine down and it was not rules legal.He did some testing at one of the spark-plug manufacturers and they bought out the patent, saying it would over double the life of their spark plugs thereby halving their sales.I know it would not be useful on the diesel but if you are interested I would be glad to share it with you. I am just a broke old dreamer that would love to be able to do what you are doing, if you need a shop sweeper,car washer i would work for room{shop floor is fine} and board{willing to garden}:}. I am off to find some of the other sites about MAX.

Jack McCornack
1/27/2009 3:40:46 PM
Man, Wayne, you are so right! Great minds thing alike, as you'll see in the next MAX Update (which is already going through the hallowed halls of the MEN web support headquarters). And while it doesn't show on the drawing, I'm going to at least --try-- a split windshield. I haven't found an off-the-shelf curved windshield that is narrow enough for MAX, and besides, split windshields make cars look about a decade more antique, which will help make up for the aesthetic modernisms we'll be forced to endure for streamlining's sake.

Wayne_1
1/27/2009 1:36:48 PM
p.s. A front spoiler{slanted bug shield with a point in center} to direct the air over the windshield or a split more slanted windshield with a v in center would help a lot.A soft rubber scoop on front to direct the air to closed off radiator that goes to within a couple of inches of the ground would help some. By ducting the incoming engine cooling air from the front end out through foam board cowling around radiator,through smooth pipes to an exhaust some place on the rear you will reduce a lot of turbulence under the hood,and the difference in the high pressure on front and low pressure on rear would give good air flow. even to direct and slant the air to underside of car would help rather than it running into the flat firewall. If you run the under body panel you might consider running your engine exhaust above it and out the rear as well.It would probably help if the rear of front fenders were raised to the same height all the way to the rear fenders and walled off side and bottom from front wheel opening all the way to rear of car,exhaust could be run through this and remain where it is, this may cause some additional problems getting into and out of vehicle but for that amount of prize money it would not be so bad. Since none of the changes would be structural they could be built from foam board with a layer of S-Glass and epoxy without much added weight. Have not really seen rear of car but if that is a luggage rack back there it will cause drag too.I know the car would not look nearly as cool with all these changes but it would definitely be much more aerodynamic. Again I love your concept and wish you the best,forgive my gall for making these suggestions, i just would really love to see you win rather than some high dollar high tech operation.Best of luck, Max is already a winner any way you look at it.

Wayne_1
1/27/2009 12:52:54 PM
Absolutely fantastic vehicle and concept.I am not nearly as experienced as you in this field but have done a good bit of racing and played with fuel efficiency for a while. I hope you won't mind a few suggestions that may put you over the top. 1: Assuming this is a water cooled engine there is far too much opening on the front of radiator, I would close and stream line it and leave a small opening on bottom and use a wind scoop, this will also cut under-body drag.Look at old Can-Am racers like the Chaparel, fenders and front cover would work better together than as separate units.An under body and engine panel would also cut under body drag. 2: I love the roadster fenders and lights but they have to go, bring the front of fenders as close to the ground as possible and incorporate covered lights in them,again better if one piece front rather than separate fenders and hood.Also wheel well covers on back wheels would help. 3: If you have to have external mirrors to be legal find some that are more aerodynamic preferably that attach to the window so no air passes between them or make them into back of fenders. 4:Not sure they still make them but once upon a time they made electric overdrives that fit onto drive shaft. Also you might get a higher rear gear or a higher top gear for the transmission.Even going with a taller rear tire would improve gear ratio.With the torque you have you should be able to handle a little more gear, at least in top gear of tranny. I hope you win it all

Sinic
1/25/2009 4:49:17 PM
Auto-gear boxs are best, for the sake of a couple of MPG why stress your heart? Years ago I ran a large garage in the Middle East and I found that for every $1 that was spent on auto-gear boxed cars about $100 was spent on manual boxed cars, altough it has to be said that the locals were kinder to their camels than their cars! Your MAX looks like my old Lotus 7, she went like scolded cat, 0 - 60 mph in about 6 seconds and that was over 40 yrs.ago.

Kris_1
1/23/2009 8:19:46 PM
I was taught many years ago how to drive a standard by an old boyfriend. He used to be a teacher and must have been a good one because he taught me in an hour, first shifting with the engine off, then driving around a mall parking lot. Then I had to drop him off and I was on my own driving home. It was a little scary, but I made it fine and now hate driving automatics because you have to keep hitting the brake when going down hills. I agree that automatics should be phased out, except for those with disabilities. The standard transmission is more efficient with gas and you would hope would make it less likely for ignorant people to be using cell phones, etc when they drive.

Leslie_2
1/23/2009 10:04:24 AM
I have driven stick so long that when I have to drive the only vehicle we have with a automatic, I have to really think hard not to try to shift the shifter and since the brake pedal is bigger on automatics - why is that ? - the first short distance is usually pulling the teeth out of the steering wheel. Hey, tha tleft foot is looking for simething to do! I agree, every driver training should be on stick and actually automatics should be done away with. You have to think to drive a stick and the automatic takes thinking and being one with the vehicle away.







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