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rykoala 06-23-2008 06:52 PM

Building a car from scratch- how would YOU do it?
So lets say you were going to build a car from scratch and design it from the get-go to get the best mileage possible. The only restriction that I would put on it is that it has to be a full ICE drivetrain- no hybrids, no electrics. Two occupants (driver/passenger) and enough cargo space to have room for a weeks worth of groceries for 2 people.

So, how would you do it?

I personally would build a rear wheel drive with a fwd engine/transaxle in the rear, with the occupants side by side in front of it, and low to the ground, and very low profile. You'd have to step down into it. It would be no taller than required for reasonable comfort and enough height to accommodate the engine and radiator. It would also be just wide enough to handle the tires, with the rears enclosed in wheel skirts, and the fronts fendered but open like on most cars. The engine would be a 3 or 4cyl low displacement engine (1.0l would be more than enough) and the transmission a manual. Tires would be the narrowest I could find, and the body would be fiberglass.

But, I know little about car design. How would you do it?


cfg83 06-23-2008 07:23 PM

rykoala -

I'd just build this :

Perry Ds 550 Spyder

I like it because it uses a STOCK VW chassis. The only problem from my POV is cleaning up it's emissions. I am sure you could find a replacement engine if you went on a quest and/or deactivated two of it's cylinders. Hrrmmmmm, maybe an OBDII compliannt Porsche Boxer engine with cylinder deactivation?!?!?!?!?

Put your groceries here :

The package tray behind the seats and just forward of the engine bay offers plenty of room for a long weekend's worth of luggage.
The Perry Ds, Inc. 550 Spyder

Here's the main website :


whokilledthejams 06-23-2008 07:57 PM

Old VW front beam (for simplicity), and the rear half of a motorcycle-- a reverse trike. Small, seats two, handles like it's on rails, and still reasonably efficient, without the terror of an actual motorcycle. A teardrop-shaped body for minimum drag would be relatively easy, without being overly-long.

Johnny Mullet 06-23-2008 08:57 PM

Didn't Homer Simpson do this and fail? :)

1GCRXHF 06-23-2008 09:28 PM

Go with a small diesel motor, maybe an old VW. Then gear it way long, I would take super low revving diesel over a motorcycle type setup anyday, especially if I'm building it from scratch anyway.

MetroMPG 06-23-2008 10:05 PM

I think I'd go with a tandem layout (either 4 wheel or 3), like the VW 1L, or the Jet car 2.5.

ttoyoda 06-23-2008 10:24 PM

You are describing this:
With a low power engine and more bodywork.

whokilledthejams 06-23-2008 10:57 PM


Originally Posted by Johnny Mullet (Post 37617)
Didn't Homer Simpson do this and fail? :)

Spectacularly, if I recall.


Originally Posted by ttoyoda (Post 37660)
You are describing this:
With a low power engine and more bodywork.

You know, I'd bet an Atom is already halfway efficient, considering it performs on par with a lot of supercars. Taller gearing and a less aggressively-tuned engine (it comes with a Chevy in the US, and a Honda in Europe, I believe).

See also: Caterham Se7en:

whokilledthejams 06-23-2008 10:59 PM


Originally Posted by Frank Lee (Post 37678)
I'd go trike for ease of passing a license inspection. And other reasons.

That's my reasoning, too. A reverse trike is even better, for handling and stability. Hence, my junkyard version of the VW GX3 and Peugeot 20CUP.

dcb 06-23-2008 11:12 PM


Originally Posted by whokilledthejams (Post 37606)
without the terror of an actual motorcycle

I am having a difficult time with this statement. Most folks who ride motorcycles enjoy them immensely, and enjoy good performance/economy and handling to boot. Add a little trailer and carry all the groceries you want.

You shouldn't rule out the obvious winners due to preconceptions :)

Maybe one of these diesel jobs :

or wrap a 600-klt like this:

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