MAX Update No. 38: Make MAX a Tank?

Reader Contribution by Staff
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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. 

Well, 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. 

All I’ve modeled here is the basic body. I threw on some tires and made a hole where the people would go, and I haven’t made any effort to make this Rhino model look like a real car. I did work with the lighting to be sure it could meet Federal specs for headlight and taillight placement, but that’s everything so far, for now you’ll have to use your imagination for the rest of it. My next step is a scale model … unless y’all just hate it and convince me I should do something else.

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