MAX Update No. 38: Make MAX a Tank?

| 12/9/2009 2:36:25 PM

Here’s the first thing off that clean slate I mentioned in Update No. 36. It looks like the box that MAX came in, doesn’t it? 

A colleague on tipped me off to a 1923 Bugatti Type 32 Grand Prix racer, known far and wide (in its day) as “the Tank.” The photos you’ll see via the previous link were taken at the 2003 Monterey Historic Automobile Races. 

My first impression was “That looks easy to build!” Followed by “Too bad it won’t work for MAX — too short, too much lift, too many louvers and buckles, and is that a starter crank I see peeping over the license plate?” 

But the Tank kept haunting me. We’ve learned a lot about aerodynamics in the 86 years since the Type 32 was born, so I thought maybe I could bring some of that knowledge to Ettore Bugatti’s original concept. It won’t have much eye-appeal. It won’t look modern and it won’t look classic, and it’s not easy to miss both those trains at once. Instead of looking neo-classic I fear it’s going to look paleo-modern — something dreamed up by George Jetson’s great gandfather. But golly, it sure looks easy to build. 

MAX Bugatti bodyWell, easy to build may carry the day. I’m not just looking for the best bang for the buck (though that is one of my major motivators), I strive to find the most reward for the least work, and this body style looks hard to beat.

The only complex body parts are the fenders. Everything else is flat sheets with simple curves, and the fenders can be their guides. The hood, trunk, and front and rear bellypans can drape between the fenders right to left, the side pods (which will have to be pre-bent if they’re metal) will fit between the fenders fore and aft. The headlight windows won’t have to be thermoformed to shape; one-sixteenth-inch thick clear plastic sheets can flex flush to the hood. 

Jack McCornack
1/5/2010 5:13:02 PM

Glad you like it, UncleRice. I plan to put a roll bar behind the windshield (and use safety glass, of course). Maybe a center brace behind the windshield is a good idea--probably won't want one in front 'cause it would be a source of drag, I'll give it some thought. And indeed it'll get a top...but I think I'll leave the snowplowing to the professionals. :-)

1/3/2010 7:16:45 PM

I like the look. It's aerodynamic, it would do a reasonably good job of deflecting instead of absorbing the force of a deer impact, and if you give it a sturdy bumper that is just lower that the under carriage, then it may plow it's way under snow instead of getting itself high centered on snow like most cars. A weather proof top will finish the job, so keep it up. If you are still looking to make a split windshield, you might want to make the center divider sturdy and stick out a few inches in front of the windshield in case a deer comes up onto the widshield.

Jack McCornack
12/28/2009 12:08:04 AM

Thanks Gordon, I agree that parts availability is of great (indeed major) importance. There are a lot of kit cars and scratch-built cars that expect you to get parts from a dozen different vehicles. The only non-Corolla car part MAX has is a steering rack from a front engine Volkswagen. Grant, I agree, this body is going to make a substantial difference. I haven't found access to the book you mentioned, if you know where I can find one would you please write me at Kinetic Vehicles? The Aptera body may be compromised some by the separated body and wheels, and it sure would be hard to replicate at home. I've made some aircraft with staggered seating but for that to work in a car you need the engine and drive wheels at the same end of the car--MAX is front engine with rear drive, so the driveshaft limits the gains available from staggered seats. It's a good idea if one starts with a clean slate, but MAX is working well and it's getting lots of attaboys when it shows up in public, so MAX is one horse I won't change in midstream. The next horse, maybe?

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