Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Windscreen opens with bonnet
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(+4, -1)
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North Americans, please substitute your terms where required.

I find that on average, for every time I need to get under my car's bonnet, I need to get under the dash twice, and I don't have a car that has a lot going on under the dash. The dash nevertheless seems to be designed to make access to its insides as difficult as possible, and moreover features a fastener regime that ensures that repeated opening and closing results in rapid deterioration of the whole assembly. It is obviously a whole lot worse if one adds air conditioning, a sound system, 37 electric motors, and anything else they might dream up to that limited, inaccessible space.

Now, I know there is this new idea that fixing things is chronologically impossible, and that service access went out with such obsolete ideas as accountable democracy and climates that support human life. Consequently we have a new generation of semi-one-box cars with their engines tucked away under the base of the windscreen, a sufficient mass of microchips assuring the engineering contingent that Nothing Can Go Wrong. Despite their failure to understand that there is no such thing as a non-moving part, only parts that are supposed to move and parts that aren't, experience indeed shows that such an engine can last a lifetime without any attention whatsoever, albeit its lifetime, not yours. But I digress.

The idea is this: the bonnet and windscreen are combined into a single component that is either hinged at the top of the screen or, preferably, at the front bumper as on a Jaguar E-type or Triumph Herald. Opening this gives unrestricted access to both the engine bay and the back of the dash. Depending on the geometries involved, the dash top can be attached to this assembly or, by the introduction of a second pane of glass affixed to the upper edge of the dash, eliminated entirely. In the latter case, the engine might even be made visible through the windscreen, if the latter is heavily sloped in the modern manner. This last arrangement might even allow defrosting of the glass without baking the occupants.

Of course this would be heavier and more complex, if aerodynamically better, than the preferred sort of automotive architecture, called "thin-fendered" in America and "Vintage" elsewhere, in which the same convenience may be established simply by positioning the bonnet-to-cowl cut line some distance aft of the firewall, so that opening the bonnet affords access not only to the engine compartment but also to the footwell and the back of the dash. But we cannot have everything.

Ned_Ludd, Aug 29 2007

Sensible access, Vintage-style http://upload.wikim..._Bentley_engine.jpg
but not a Hatchfront [Ned_Ludd, Aug 29 2007]

Folding windscreen example http://www.geocitie...haridude/index2.htm
... and 2CV had folding/rolling up/removable everything ! [xenzag, Aug 29 2007]

Truck Cab http://www.handtruc...t%20cab%20pic12.JPG
is this what you mean, only for a car ? [xenzag, Aug 29 2007]

Or, did you mean something like this, only for a car instead? http://eaa105.org/N...ing/2003-August.pdf
See page 6 of this *.pdf file for a tip-down instrument panel. [Klaatu, Aug 29 2007]

No, more like this, only backwards http://www.racingicons.com/gt/1076.htm
Ferrari 512S and Porsche 917 work on the same principle [Ned_Ludd, Aug 29 2007]

Anyone remember these? http://www.bondbug....owners_gallery.asp#
[Ling, Aug 30 2007]

Or these? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isetta
[Ling, Aug 30 2007]

Better view http://www.cartype....cfm?id=475&alph=ALL
We don't need no steenkin dashboard. [Ling, Aug 30 2007]


       What about the windshield wiper assembly? I like the idea otherwise, but I'd personally like it so that the windshield opens up and the hood opens down (think Corvette). Wait that completely defeats the purpose of the idea... never mind then.
acurafan07, Aug 29 2007

       There are several ways to do the wipers. The obvious way would be simply to mount the wiper motor to the underside of the hatch, as it is on hatchbacks' rear wipers. The motors seem to stand up quite well to slamming of hatches in practice. Another way is a reciprocating cable drive like the one on my Morris Minor, with the wiper motor mounted on some convenient fixed part of the car.
Ned_Ludd, Aug 29 2007

       A bun for a nicely crafted essay; not sure the suggested solutions are the best one possible for a well observed real problem.
Cosh i Pi, Aug 29 2007

       //service access went out with such obsolete ideas as accountable democracy and climates that support human life// - Ha!   

       A very real problem. I'm sure there are many solutions, including yours, any of which could be implemented if manufacturers wanted their stuff fixed.
wagster, Aug 29 2007

       That was one of the bits I particularly liked, too, [wagster]
Cosh i Pi, Aug 29 2007

       Didn't some of the first 2CVs having a folding down windscreen?... but this is all I could find - still worth a look. The 2CV was, and still is the best car ever made. I loved mine.
xenzag, Aug 29 2007

       I can't remember what type of car it is, possibly Le Mans or Nascar, where the entire body lifts off. You could have a car with suicide doors at the fron and normal doors at the back so that all the hinges are on a central post. This post would have a hydraulic cylinder inside to lift the entire body except the doors. This could also prove useful for parking as you'd be able to see the corner of the car. Actually, why have doors at all?
marklar, Aug 29 2007

       I've often thought the ideal general-use car would be a sort of cross between a 2CV and a Lotus 7 -with the 2CV's interconnection of suspension.   

       [marklar], GT prototypes like the ones that race at Le Mans have traditionally had the entire rear half of the body tilting back for access, ever since they first went mid-engined in the early '60's. The extreme example of that approach must be the funny car, however.
Ned_Ludd, Aug 29 2007

       Quite a lot of cars used to have folding down windscreens.   

       The only ones I've ever had like that were Series I Landrovers, but it didn't improve access to the dashboard innards. But that was easy, too - it was a flat panel with a screw in each corner, and it came out complete with both dials, and all the switches and warning lights really easily. You didn't need to move the windscreen at all.
Cosh i Pi, Aug 29 2007

       You are basically proposing putting the engine and the passengers in the same compartment. This is a really lousy idea. The engine is loud, stinky, drippy, and dirty. It also can emit poisonous gas can occasionally catch on fire. These are all things that you do not want in the passenger compartment.(-)
Galbinus_Caeli, Aug 29 2007

       No, there would be a seal across the top of the dash on which the hatch closes, thus separating the engine compartment from the passenger compartment; except in the case where there is a second pane of glass (q.v.), which separates the compartments even when the hatch is open.
Ned_Ludd, Aug 29 2007

       I like it as a concept but there are some considerations:   

       Removing the dash componentry to an area that comes into view when the cowl is opened requires that the base of the windshield either be clear of the area or that the windshield go up with it. The first is aerodynamically unsound, the latter is mechanically damned difficult.   

       What about having the entire dash be demountable as a unit? The dashboard continues as a rigid piece along the bottom of the windshield, but undoing a few simple catches allows the entire dash with all of its componentry to drop down to the level of the seat. The steering column with its adjustment hardware stays in place, as does the glovebox and most or all of the ducting. The rest, however, is now lying in your lap, coquettishly winking its indicator lights up at you, inviting you to reach in with trembling fingers and set everything back to rights.   

       I think this would be a better way than having everything on the other side of the firewall, exposed to more heat and requiring more and larger penetrations through the firewall.
elhigh, Aug 29 2007

       [BrauBeaton] So you can get at all the heavy working gear - but is the dashboard any easier to get inside than on other vehicles? And is HyWire going into production, or is it still simply a concept? If the latter, will it ever go into production? I saw reports of it a few years ago and haven't heard anything since. It looked like a good way to make a vehicle a great deal heavier than it needs to be, to me.
Cosh i Pi, Aug 30 2007


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