The Italian Junkyard

Thoughts, ideas, criticism about cars. Interesting news and facts from the world of the automobile. Events in Italy and Modena. What you can find elsewhere, filtered through the eyes of a discerning enthusiast. Design, style, everything on the chopping block. Nobody is safe anymore.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

15.1 The Italian Project: drawing a new bodywork for the Maserati MC12

I'm doing this project for one of my courses at university.

Basically we have to design the bodywork of a new car based on the Maserati MC12's underpinning.

Even if it is indeed very interesting and exciting, you’d terribly wrong assuming CAD programs, math and clay models are involved in the process.

It’s much “simpler”, and somehow disappointing. It all starts this way: our teacher brought various technical drawings (aka blueprints) of the Maserati MC12. They are all about the aerial and lateral views, but while one of them depicts the actual bodywork, the others are more and more focused on the actual chassis and mechanics, until we arrive at something like the following images.

Make the jump for more about this new project.

These blueprints are printed in 1:5 scale, which means we have to deal with more than 1 meter wide sheets, given the MC12’s length of 5,14 meters. Even if the process doesn’t mean designing in a technical way, we still have some tasks to face. First of all, the actual car in the drawings is the racing version of the MC12, so many things are supposed to be changed, like the wheels (we can actually maintain the racing ones), the ride height, but most of all, the drivers position. At this point, I’d like to introduce you my newest best friend forever… Oscar.

He is a funny guy, albeit he doesn’t speak much. 175 cm tall, 178 with the helmet which he never takes off, I’ve assumed he is The Stig's Italian cousin. Fortunately for my ears, he has much better music tastes.

Anyway, given the limited production nature even of the road going MC12, many things are to be changed.

The most annoying is his back’s inclination, which can’t be more than 25°. For the record, on the GT1 car it’s of about 45°. Now, you can’t just set the seat in a different position, because now my dear friend Oscar wouldn’t just fit in the car, because of the height of the cockpit. Even more, you have to simulate the rotation of the upper part of his body in case of an accident around the so called "H point" (his hip), and he doesn’t have to impact on anything except the airbag. So this required not only a new driving position, but also a new cockpit.

We were given clearance to modify the A-pillar and the windscreen at will, while the B-pillar was set in stone together with the air scoop. This is when things become a little…pointless. For lack of time and resources, we won’t do any sort of calculations to justify and verify our modifications to the chassis. The same goes for the impact structure at the front, and the position of the radiators. We're allowed to move the radiators elsewhere, we just should maintain theoretically their sizes and therefore the overall size of the air intakes and outlets.

As you can see in this hi-tech animation, the difference between the old and the new cockpit's profile is quite large.
With the older design and the new driving position, Oscar's head would impact on the upper part of the windscreen and on the transversal beam connecting the two A-pillars, for lack of a better word. The pillar itself wouldn't have been a problem as it's positioned on his side.

It’s a bit disappointing, but it would be barely impossible for us to do that at the moment and in such a short time frame, given it’s a 2/3 months project, about 4 hours a week and with what I think is a limited technical knowledge on these aspects.

All we are asked to do is to design a new bodywork around the given mechanics respecting actual production cars’ rules, maximum dimensions, angles, crash test areas and so on and so forth. Meanwhile, it would also be a good idea to drawn a decently looking car too.

Everything will be done on paper sheets of various kind, so using a CAD to design it would then require to print it in full scale first, and then to trace it again on a sheet with the use of a specific pen. Don’t ask.

About one month into the project, I think we are a bit behind the schedule. I said “we” because this is supposed to be a 6 people project, even if so far I’m basically the only one working after it. That may explain it.

Stay tuned for more, I may need your help too!

Maserati MC12 images Copyright: Maserati Spa
All other images Copyright: Damiano Garro

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