Monday, September 28, 2015

Motor Monday: Model A modernization project

Basically everybody I've ever met digs the old classics. 20s, 30s, maybe even up through the 50s or so, they've just got a bit of style about them. Performance of course is another thing entirely. That they don't have. But what if you could get a bit of both?

I'm not the first to think of this. There's the PT Cruiser, which made a fairly decent attempt at it, but there's just something subtly off about it. The lines aren't quite right, the style's not there, and most I know just view it as a pale imitation. The brush of bland, samey streamlining was hefted in its direction just a bit too enthusiastically. Gave it a little too much 'minivan', particularly the whole-body slope. Still, I appreciate the effort, and it's far from the worst attempt I've seen at such things. It's like a C+ or maybe a B-. Above whatever nebulous average, but still not the slam dunk, but quite nice for something you could justify as a daily driver. It's also about 5 years out of production now, although reviews say it was decent enough and kicked off some other new versions of classics that have turned out rather nice. 

Another crack at it from the other direction, pure performance with a bit of classic class, is the Factory Five '33 Hot Rod. It's a kit car, a custom race frame with a slick reproduction 30s style body. Performance-wise it holds up its end of the bargain, and the pricing's even not terrible considering it's meant to be a track car at just under $20k. Problem is, it's a kit car; you have to assemble it, and source a bunch of parts yourself off a donor car. This means you have to have have time and space to assemble it, no stylish rides for the mechanically impaired. And it gets worse: nothing in the way of amenities, such as things like, oh, I dunno, windows. Stock, you get a stripped out shell like many of the most determinedly focused sports cars, although if you've talent, time, and resources there's nothing to say you couldn't add stuff yourself. Still, worth a look if you want to turn some heads at the track In the looks department it's got it all down pat, but it's too heavy on the hot rod side of things to be anything but a toy without substantial extra work.

The Cheverolet SSR (Super Sport Roadster) is yet another attempt at classic styling, this time in approximately a truck. And still, there's something just a bit off. Even more than the PT Cruiser, perhaps, it's just TOO heavily rounded. It's based a bit more on a 50s custom truck, but it fits mostly with the theme. 
But there IS hope. From a major, mainstream company, no less (there are still things like Morgan that make things with classic style and immense price points to match). What could it be? Why, it's something that's even better than the original, in my eyes. The New Beetle, from Volkswagon. They took the classic styling, and streamlined it, made it sleeker and more capable. I've seen a few, they look good enough to turn heads. Gone is the cutesy look, in favor of a touch more aggressive styling. A sports car it is not, but it retains the rounded styling of years passed.

But this is not a project, you may be thinking. You'd be right, if for some reason you find me interesting enough to read this far. What IS a project is my thoughts to get some prototyping foam, or spend some time in any of the multitude of modeling softwares with which I am so accustomed. While I technically have the skills required to use modern engineering practices to design a car from scratch, there's little need for all that. Adjusting the frames and suspension and such is a task better left to those with far stronger software than I, simulation packages and the like to determine crash performance and whathaveyou. Thus far all attempts succeed handily in being functional on a modern level, but many fail in the style department, if ever so slightly. If I succeed, mayhap we'll all benefit from a modern take on the classics. If I fail? Well, I've tried and created something, and kept carefully tailored skills from decaying further

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