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garethj

The Urba Centurion, 128mpg sports car! From 1981

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I'm trying to convince myself to design and build a kit car.  As my day job is a design engineer I've got a good start but years of experience tells me to investigate first so I've been doing some research on kit cars.  I came across Burlington as a kit supplier from the '80s as they did a pre-war style sports car, and then I also found that they did this!

 

cent2.jpg

 

Like the rest of Burlington's cars, you didn't buy a load of fibreglass panels and an industrial size pack of self tappers, you handed over £20 and got a set of plans from which you built your own car.

 

centurion_side_discs_600x231.jpg

 

The number of abandoned kit car projects on ebay shows that just assembling parts you've bought is more work than most people think, I can't imagine the number of people who bought the plans, started on some plywood and got no further than the bulkhead and an inner wing.  A few cars were built, one was in the Total Recall film.

i181999.jpg

 

And what was the thinking behind this car?  You start with a Triumph Sptfire chassis, fit a 17-hp, 3-cylinder Kubota diesel, make an aerodynamic(ish) bodyshell from a foam core and fibreglass (no moulds required) and with the right gearing you're done.  The name Centurion was chosen as it could beat 100mpg but a few cars have done twice that.  I despair to think how miserable that driving experience must be at 35mph.

 

I'm not sure the bodyshell is in the Audi 100 class of slipperyness, but by keeping the frontal area small it doesn't take much to push it through the air.

centurion_hyundai_comparison.jpg

And the engine was mated to a 5 speed gearbox, with overdrive on every gear.  17bhp isn't much, but with a reasonable amount of torque I suppose you keep the throttle floored and just change gear to alter speed.  A high enough final drive so that it doesn't stall at 60mph on the flat would make the most of things.

 

So, another one of those basket cases confined to history, some crackpot inventor who has a brilliant idea but it ends up falling flat.  Just the kind of underdog idea that I love, that's why I bought some plans.

IMG_20151103_135840_zpstin6c2nl.jpg

 

IMG_20151103_135805_zpstafu07he.jpg

 

IMG_20151103_135737_zpshbqhrdlz.jpg

 

DSC_0107_zpsp14v1esm.jpg

 

DSC_0108_zpsckq5sqdm.jpg

 

There's no way I'm going to build one of these, so keep your raffle ticket money in your pocket.  But the engineering drawings have a certain style, I like the concept and the way of building a bodyshell like this without a mould is interesting too.  More info about that method of construction here.

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Awesome .is that not the engine they fitted to cement mixers?

 

A build it yourself kit car needs to be modular so it can essily fit together. Possibly just leave the interior, paint and drive train down to the builder but provide the hooks so a 2.0 zetec plugs straight in and and it's designed to take an rx8 interior.

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That's brilliant. Small diesels weren't in abundance in the early 1980s, apart from in industrial applications. I think a 17bhp diesel would be suited to a mini tractor, they don't rev very highly so I can see why overdrive on every gear was needed.

They do a similar sized turbodiesel with 35bhp now, that'd go a lot better.

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I'm wondering now, how much a breakers would want for the engine and running gear from a Fiat 500 TwinAir, and how likely a crashed but mechanically fine one, would be anyway. I'm thinking of this...

 

xr3_012908_4.jpg

 

I could see me in one of those.

Actually, hang it. FireBlade engine it is, and I'll worry about reverse gear when it becomes an issue. Presumably it would be light enough to shove around Tesco's car park, if some clown blocked me in.

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Take that engine & concept

Add modern principles of injection and fuelling without the emissions-related bollocks (250mpg, you can leave some unburned percentage of the gallons and still be clean)

Use a modern 6-speed but stick with overdrive

Use modern carbonfibre panels and better panel gaps...

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I'm trying to convince myself to design and build a kit car.  

 

 

Please don't.

 

Assuming that your occupation means you can design AND fabricate a decent space frame chassis with the mounts for some modern twin cam (with a north south kit) and a Mx5 gearbox AND that you work out all the angles so the people AND the moving bits of car fit (Project Binky showed that to be SO easy) AND then you can wield the foam/leather and cut some swoopy bits of ply for the interior (a la TVR) AND you're enough of an aesthete to design AND build a beautiful body it will all go horribly wrong as you'll have to use the windscreen off an Opel Combo van or some old piece of crap.

 

"parts bin special" isn't a term of endearment you know.

 

What will most likely happen is that you'll turn a pile of money and good parts into a pile of scrap whilst missing your children growing up and annoying your missus.

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In the early '90s I was working with a firm that made photographic support systems with carbon fibre. I designed a frame to fit a Dyane chassis and started work on a carbon fibre spaceframe beach car with panels intended to be made out of the thin flyweight plastic stiffeners you got for packing things (and also folding boxes - Stackajacks?), with push-button fixing to convert from open Mehari, to van, to fastback.

 

The design was, I believe, sound - if only for the already solid grounding of a Citroën A-chassis - but when the car was stripped it was found to have been so heavily bodged I lost heart, and then being a teenager took over and I forgot all about it.

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An old Dyane or even better, Ami 8, with a rotten body but sound original chassis and running gear is a surprisingly good starting point for a project since all you have to concentrate on is making a body. The engineering is good, far better than most would ever imagine. They can be easily turned in tripods too, for reduced rolling resistance and road tax. But making a body look decent on any one-off is always an obstacle.

 

citroen-2cv-special-04.jpg?i

 

I once toyed with building a tandem-seater on an Acadiance chassis (2cv, but longer and stiffer) with some sort of sliding canopy which could be used open or closed. Was thinking along the lines of 100mpg at cruising speed, 105mph flat out. Or BMW bike engine for extra go. i realised I could have fun with a BMW bike engine in a Dyane and have a life, too.

 

I've often thought a VW TDi 1.9 could make sense for something fast and economical, the 110hp lump is bloody good. The thing is that by the time you'd made something half-decent it would deserve something better than a rattling revless diesel. You tend to go round in circles then eventually buy an MGF and realise it's vaguely along your lines of thought but 100x better. And for less than a tenth of the cost.

 

Those monotracer enclosed motorbikes sort of interest me, too. But I bet living with one in crowded England could be hard work.

 

 

VW designed a sort of pre-ecocar three-wheeler in the 80s,

 

VW_Scooter_1986%20(9).jpg

 

then designed this in the 90s.

 

1vw1-litre-green-car.jpg?mode=max&qualit

 

 

 

Some interesting pics and leads here for anyone thinking of diy, https://www.pinterest.com/gordondale/3-wheelers/

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If you're going to drive something that looks ugly as fuck its good to keep the price down. Back when the GS was rusting for France this set me back about £300 to build. Non GS were carbs from 2 HA vans (an unlikely source of tuning bits it has to be said) and Dyane windscreen set in the frame from a stainless sink. I've a taste for the exotic...

post-7547-0-94382600-1446804095_thumb.jpg

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Why is it that every kit car seems to end up with trailer rear lights fitted to them? kit car one has make aesthetic considerations and must sou
Why is it that every kit car seems to end up with trailer rear lights fitted to them?[/quote

 

Trailer lamps look shit, so just right. Trickier at the front, but I found lamps from a road roller were the solution.

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Why is it that every kit car seems to end up with trailer rear lights fitted to them?

cheap easily mounted , already approved  and  not likely to end up with the adenoidal  complianing it;s got the rear lights of a bog standard  hatchback ...

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Funny this comes up: I was wondering what 'special' use there was for a 3-pot Perkins oil burner the other day at work. Not a cement mixer though, it was a lift pump. Must've been at least 20 horse. Although the Lombardini one that runs the hydraulics in an ejector trailer might have had more, but it was working pretty hard pushing 20t of rubbish out the back.

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I had a go of building a Locost kit car years ago - I got quite far but sold it on.

 

I'd like to build something using a tubular chassis and design the body to go over the top. I'd have a mid mounted modern 1.0 turbo with some kind of transaxle. I've designed loads of cars, I reckon I could much better than those kit car designs (obviously in theory)

 

lamborghini_bravo_p114_concept_7-1024x76

 

How does that foam stuff work - does sound very crash safe.

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An old Dyane or even better, Ami 8, with a rotten body but sound original chassis and running gear is a surprisingly good starting point for a project since all you have to concentrate on is making a body. The engineering is good, far better than most would ever imagine. They can be easily turned in tripods too, for reduced rolling resistance and road tax. But making a body look decent on any one-off is always an obstacle.

 

citroen-2cv-special-04.jpg?i

 

I once toyed with building a tandem-seater on an Acadiance chassis (2cv, but longer and stiffer) with some sort of sliding canopy which could be used open or closed. Was thinking along the lines of 100mpg at cruising speed, 105mph flat out. Or BMW bike engine for extra go. i realised I could have fun with a BMW bike engine in a Dyane and have a life, too.

 

************"************************"*"*

 

I'm not a great fan of 2cv based things any more. I've owned quite a few of them (Ami 8, 2cv4 and 6 and 2 Dyanes) but when their prices started to go up I realised that you could achieve similar levels of economy and slowness with a Metro diesel, and they became a bit pointless. Actually they're not exactly 'pointless' and I've just remembered the relief when I learned how to get at the contact breakers by knocking the cooling fan off its taper with the starting handle. (2cv know-how was in short supply when I bought my first one, a LHD 435cc fireball years before their re-introduction to the UK).

I also found the GS a lot more fun and these could be had very cheap and in some interesting variations. One that came my way for 20 quid had the semi automatic box- 3 manually shifted gears and a torque converter with the clutch actuated when you grasped the knob. Oh sorry, one for the double entendre thread.

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