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MAX Update No. 21: New Motivation for an Enclosed Cabin

Did you guess why the trip home was no fun? If you live in the Pacific Northwest, I'll bet you figured it out.

In the year 2050, when children gather around my feet and ask, “Grampaw, where were you during the Great Storm of Oh Eight?” I’ll answer, “I was driving a high-mileage sports car from California to Oregon, and even in that weather I got about 60 miles to the gallon.” And I'll show them this picture, of what the world looked like from MAX's driver's seat.


MAX windshield 
Photo by Jack McCornack

Depending on how things go between now and 2050, they'll reply, “Sixty mpg? They called that high mileage back then? Ha ha ha ho ho tee hee,” or they’ll ask, “What's a car?”

Then I'll tell them that even though I was dressed for foul weather, it was a challenging trip. And even with a top, MAX was really only good for nine months of the year back then. And there were times during that trip I'd wished I'd been somewhere else and doing something more sensible, such as running with the bulls in Pamplona.

To maximize fuel economy, MAX needs a fully enclosed cabin. There's just too much drag from the wind coming in, noodling around the driver and passenger, and wandering off again. We aren't going to get 100 mpg without separating the moving air in the inside of the car from the non-moving air on the outside of the car (or vice-versa, depending on where you're standing). But now I have another motive: I’m not going to drive through another storm without a weather barrier between me and the elements.

I don't mind driving in light rain — in Oregon, that's what we call “humidity.” But I'll never plan another unprotected road trip when the weather station is predicting Industrial Strength Humidity — Now Available in Chunky Style. My second biggest problem was that the windshield wiper couldn't keep up with the snow. My biggest problem was that when the road got slushy and trucks zoomed by, their wheels would throw buckets of slush through MAX's doorless doorway, drenching me from face to floorboard. When I had to stop to buy chains — chains! I had to buy chains for MAX! — even guys with snowmobiles were saying, “Man, you're hard core!”

So I won't have to embellish much to entertain the kids, And in 2050, when they say...

“Grampaw, I did the math, that makes you 102. That's really old.” I’ll then say, “Yes, and if I hadn't met your grandmother in 2009, I might not have made it this long.” So keep those cards and letters coming.

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.
1/14/2009 10:27:58 PM

I enjoy the MAX updates, projects like this take time. It is nice to get updates that give us a feel for what Jack is going through. Jim: I admire your level of knowledge, not all of us fully get the the feel and dynamics of an open cab with out Jacks story. Jack the project is very interesting, please keep up the good work. Your writing helps me understand what the project is all about and what you (or if we wanted to try it)have to go through.

jack mccornack
1/14/2009 12:43:58 PM

:-) I'll add that to my Things To Do Months Ago list. And if you think it's painful to read, man, you should have been there! It was painful to experience as well. For those who only want to read the Thrilling Conclusion, tune in in September. 'Till then, it's going to be one progress report after another, and some reports will have a taste of the Bulwer-Lytton about them ("It was a dark and stormy night..."). Some will report successes and some will report problems, and some will be about day to day life with MAX. None of this will be on the test, so it's not required reading, but enough folks are curious about MAX's development and are thinking about doing something's only fair that I be frank about the weather.

jim sirman_2
1/9/2009 9:36:43 PM

I have been following this drama since you started and its getting painful to read. I thought you were going to really do something with this build. Please get to a point in your build that you do some real investigation on better MPG. It's like your writing a 19th century serial novel. Anyone with a lick of sense has known from the beginning you have an open car and they are about as fuel efficient as a V8 pickup with an open bed. You should have closed it in months ago. Get on with something more than a weather report or that someone laughed at your car.