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Road huggers

Cars with apparently zero ground clearance
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(+2, -1)
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One of the 'mods' to make cars look different is dropping the height of the car. But there is a limit to how low it can get to, since after all the car has to clear minor undulations on the road without parts scrunching against them. Another consideration is the need to clear humps - real humps, of the non-custard variety.

A normal car, with normal or high ground clearance is fitted with a flexible plastic and rubber skirt, similar to that on hovercraft, coloured to look as part of the car body. Air is pumped in to keep it inflated. Or maybe the exhaust would do?

The weight of the car is supported, as usual, by the tires. The air escaping around the rim of the skirt keeps it a few millimeters above the undulating surface of the road. Making the air pressure vary with the speed of the car will ensure that it has zero ground clearance while stopped and still be able to navigate rough ground.

The function of the skirt is purely cosmetic and is not intended to affect the handling in any way.

neelandan, Mar 14 2003

hydraulic suspension - part1 http://www.strictly...and_Body_drops.html
hmm... not quite [TonyDevilUK, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

hydraulic suspension - part2 http://www.geocitie...ns/1876/Suspen.html
kind of like this ? [TonyDevilUK, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

For [bz] and Mr Z http://www.mclarencars.com/
Dream here. [angel, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Chapparal 2J http://www.photoess...arral/chaparral.htm
[thumbwax, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

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       i'm confused, does the car suck its elf to the ground?
TonyDevilUK, Mar 14 2003

       Tony...: The ground effect will suck a car onto the road. Simply shape the underside of the car like the top of the wing and drive fast. I was about to launch into the history of skirts in Formula 1, when I realised that this is a completely different kind of skirt.   

       Wheras most skirts are side barriers to prevent air from being sucked in and lessening the ground effect, this skirt (presumably needing a bottom as well as sides) would be aimed at creating the ground effect in the first place. (stop me if I'm wrong).
st3f, Mar 14 2003

       If the skirt also had a bottom, I think the vehicle would experience the same kind of effect that Senna had on his last corner. The car would no longer be able to suck/hug the road, it would slide or skid out of control as soon as it attempted to turn the corner.   

       I would have thought the method as used by Mclaren F1 (a big fan that sucks to the ground) would give greater grip   

       If //A normal car, with normal or high ground clearance// was to be fitted with a device such as this, it would also still need to be fitted with stiffened suspension to stop it tipping and wearing away the skirts.   

       I've seen a number of modified vehicles with extremely low front valances (front skirts) that have tried to use the down forces [neelandan] is trying to harness, except they used fibreglass.   

       If you pump a cushion of air under a car (which I’ve believe what [neelandan] is suggesting), then it would give the vehicle almost no high-speed cornering ability whatsoever. If [neelandan]'s intention is to produce a vehicle that handles well at high speed but also gives a smooth ride over speed bumps at low speed, then I think this already baked (yay, I said it) with modified hydraulics.
TonyDevilUK, Mar 14 2003

       I think the misleading phrase is "car is supported, as usual, by the tires" <pedant alert>sp. tyre </> - I don't think they do in this idea at all. They might provide the forward traction, but if the skirt is to act as a hovercraft - then the cushion of air is to support the weight of the car. The air pressure is varied so that the weight supported can be changed - giving more downforce on the road.   

       I think?
Jinbish, Mar 14 2003

       Sorry, Tony. Looks like I was trying to explain the ground effect to someone who already knows all about it. I have to disagree with your analysis of Senna's fatal crash, though.   

       Jinbish: Looks like I'm going to have to wait for neelandan to tell me whether this skirt has a bottom.
st3f, Mar 14 2003

       The intended function of the skirt is purely cosmetic. I think it might have to be retracted at speeds at which its aerodynamics might affect the handling of the car.   

       It is taking the "lowered chassis" look to the extreme.   

       I shall not answer that question, saint, ass the actress ...
neelandan, Mar 14 2003

       Oh, pooh. I thought this was going to be an aerodynamic aid.
st3f, Mar 14 2003

       <sound of penny dropping> - Just give em a skirt to make 'em look lower! I am a fool.
Jinbish, Mar 14 2003

       no worries st3f, i should have put a little bit more detail in my first post.   

       Jinbish: if //the cushion of air is to support the weight of the car// then this would by nature of its actions reduce the weight of the car, thereby reducing the downforce not increasing it.   

       neelandan: so basically, its a pretty much standard low rider skirt designed for a high riding vehicle (like a 4x4?) but made of a suitable material to stop it being destroyed when you go over a speed bump?
TonyDevilUK, Mar 14 2003

       sorry, our annos crossed in the post.   

       now where do I put that 15mins on my timesheet.....
TonyDevilUK, Mar 14 2003

       TDUK: Yeah, what I mean is that the air pressure can be reduced and therefore more weight taken by the tyres/suspension.
Jinbish, Mar 14 2003

       yes, just like my example of the McL F1, but that wasnt what the original post suggested. Sorry for any confusion   

       <---- goes back to lurking ---->
TonyDevilUK, Mar 14 2003

       <commodore 64 - Impossible Mission>
"Stay a while... Stay FOREVER!"
Jinbish, Mar 14 2003

       The 'big fan that sucks to the ground' was a Brabham, not a McLaren.
angel, Mar 14 2003

       BT46B by Murray who later did the F1 for McClaren which does not have a cooling/ground effect fan when in race trim but _does_ in the ~65 road cars that were built. (my husband is something of a McLaren aficionado and told me this--well, it was a little more complicated than this because there was another street McLaren called an LM that didn't have the fan but it all gets kind of boring and I couldn't care less and blah, blah, blah.)
bristolz, Mar 14 2003

       You (and your husband) are correct, of course, regarding the McLaren F1's fan-assisted ground effect; I regret that I read 'F1' to mean 'Formula 1 race car'; the BT65 was the only Formula 1 car to use such a fan (for only one race, because it was banned immediately). Apols to [TonyDevil], and I should have known better as I, also, am a huge McLaren fan (no pun).
angel, Mar 14 2003

       You and my husband would get along.   

       <later> After I told him your reply he (my husband, David) mentioned that the fan design actually was thought up by some anonymous racing fan who sent it to a Chevrolet racing team in the 60s. They built a car with fans to suck the air out from underneath the car and that had a pressure skirt around it to maintain low-pressure under the car and stick the car to the road. The prototype was raced in Can-Am(?) but banned immediately.
bristolz, Mar 14 2003

       Wasn't that the Chapparal T60? Or was that the one where the rear wing angle was adjusted by the supension travel?
angel, Mar 15 2003

       I remember this too - as a kid, only Hot Wheels or Slot Cars I requested at Christmas were McLarens. Still have '69 McLaren Hot Wheel at folks place, heh.
See link for the dirt on Chaparral 2J.
thumbwax, Mar 15 2003

       "oooooohhh you got a inflata skirt! where's the foot tall wing? Dog, dog! look at his exhaust tip!! yeeaaa hea!! that gotta add like 50 horsepower dog! and those decals! thats gotta be another hundred or two!!"
Veritas, Mar 15 2003

bristolz, Mar 15 2003

       (Veritas appears to be offering an anti-"boy racer" rant.)
half, Mar 15 2003

       Baked. The "suction car" concept was first patented in the 1920s. Jim Hall applied the idea to racing cars; it worked too well, they banned it from racing. "Moveable air foils" aren't allowed.   

       They used plexiglass for the skirt. It rubbed the pavement and had to be replaced after each race.   

       The "ground effect" cars followed, which were also banned. Race cars must now have smooth bottoms.
whlanteigne, Nov 03 2004


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