A quick update capturing the frame work before it suddenly progresses into something more resembling a car. In this set of photos you can see the structural skeleton coming together and if you have a good imagination, you get your first taste of what it will look like as a car. Design wise, the aim is to have smooth lines everywhere, I want all the curves to flow from one to another with no harsh transitions from straight to curved. You can see an example of this in the drivers side arm cutout which is shaped to be more than just cosmetic. The car is very narrow and there is no room for the driver to have his/her arms inside so waggling elbows need to not keep banging into the bodywork but still be close enough to rest your elbow on when cruising.
It should be mentioned at this point that vintage race cars are actually rather fragile – the edges of aluminum panel work normally only had a wire rolled edge to add a little strength. The look I wanted is more of an upmarket touring car with an ash frame however hardwood like ash is heavy and over time it rots no matter what you do to try and protect it. I wanted the frame to be an awful lot lighter and NOT rot, hence the use of the aircraft grade T61 tubing. This tubing is 3mm thick and 25mm in diameter. Once the frame has been completed and fully welded it will be very strong and will be able to provide many years of fun. Poop Poop.
In case you were wondering, all the welding seen in the photos is ‘un-finished’ at this point, for instance the area by the steering wheel (which is a complex set of curves) will be smoothed out to enable the exterior panels to be a tight fit to the tubing BUT this area is critical section visually and strength wise as the arm cutout will have to bear almost all my body-weight when I lift myself up to get out of the car – note there are no doors!
Below you can see at the back how the rear passenger area curves out then up. This I think looks much nicer than a vertical panel which i have seen a number of people do but i think a vertical panel makes the car look a little too ‘home made’. My design does of course mean that I gave the Artisans a challenge because it is harder to build. The height of the rear passenger area is just right to rest your elbow on but the wheel guard will never ‘bounce’ as high as your elbow.
In the photo below you can see that apart from my wanting the back to curve out and up, i also wanted it to be a little more interesting by being slightly higher in the middle than the sides. In the photo, the vertical tubing is of course too long at this point, it will actually only curve up a touch more than the thickness of the tube seen coming round on the right hand side.
This means that the rear tube is another complex curve – i.e. it has to curve around the back of the car AND slightly up which apparently is a bit of a nightmare to bend, below you can see Chris, the lead Artisan test fitting the tube he had initially shaped, this was one of many such test fits with several return trips to the tube bender for fettling. Once he is happy it will be ready to fit but he will complete the passenger side tubing first.
One thing i doubt anyone will notice is that by design that rising curve is exactly the same shape as the bottom of the rear window on the original saloon bodywork… a nod to the cars original form which i think will look rather nice.