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Discussion Starter #1
I've got a chassis from a Tropica, but no body parts. The Tropica's
wheelbase is 89 inches. I'm looking to find another body that I could
put on the chassis, and I noticed that a Miata has wheelbase in the
89-inch to 90-inch. But the Miata is a unibody. Anybody know what's
involved (or if it's even possible) to take unibody's body parts and
attach them to a different chassis? Or can anyone think of another
non-unibody that might work well on a Tropica chassis?

Thanks.

Bill Dennis

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Discussion Starter #2
http://www.usbodysource.com/

----- Original Message ----
From: Bill Dennis <[email protected]>
To: Electric Vehicle Discussion List <[email protected]>
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 9:52:59 AM
Subject: [EVDL] Using a Unibody


I've got a chassis from a Tropica, but no body parts. The Tropica's
wheelbase is 89 inches. I'm looking to find another body that I could
put on the chassis, and I noticed that a Miata has wheelbase in the
89-inch to 90-inch. But the Miata is a unibody. Anybody know what's
involved (or if it's even possible) to take unibody's body parts and
attach them to a different chassis? Or can anyone think of another
non-unibody that might work well on a Tropica chassis?





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Discussion Starter #3
David, what specifically are you suggesting that I look for on that
site? I've visited there before, but found no Miata listed.

Thanks.

Bill Dennis

David Dymaxion wrote:
> http://www.usbodysource.com/
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Bill Dennis <[email protected]>
> To: Electric Vehicle Discussion List <[email protected]>
> Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 9:52:59 AM
> Subject: [EVDL] Using a Unibody
>
>
> I've got a chassis from a Tropica, but no body parts. The Tropica's
> wheelbase is 89 inches. I'm looking to find another body that I could
> put on the chassis, and I noticed that a Miata has wheelbase in the
> 89-inch to 90-inch. But the Miata is a unibody. Anybody know what's
> involved (or if it's even possible) to take unibody's body parts and
> attach them to a different chassis? Or can anyone think of another
> non-unibody that might work well on a Tropica chassis?
>
>
>
>
>
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Discussion Starter #4
> I've got a chassis from a Tropica, but no body parts. The Tropica's
> wheelbase is 89 inches. I'm looking to find another body that I could
> put on the chassis, and I noticed that a Miata has wheelbase in the
> 89-inch to 90-inch. But the Miata is a unibody. Anybody know what's
> involved (or if it's even possible) to take unibody's body parts and
> attach them to a different chassis? Or can anyone think of another
> non-unibody that might work well on a Tropica chassis?

Why bother?

The Tropica chassis is a heavy pile of crap.

Paul Compton
www.evguru.co.uk
www.sciroccoev.co.uk
www.bvs.org.uk
www.morini-mania.co.uk
www.compton.vispa.com/the_named

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Discussion Starter #5
Gee, Paul, thanks for the helpful response.

Bill Dennis

Paul Compton wrote:
>> I've got a chassis from a Tropica, but no body parts. The Tropica's
>> wheelbase is 89 inches. I'm looking to find another body that I could
>> put on the chassis, and I noticed that a Miata has wheelbase in the
>> 89-inch to 90-inch. But the Miata is a unibody. Anybody know what's
>> involved (or if it's even possible) to take unibody's body parts and
>> attach them to a different chassis? Or can anyone think of another
>> non-unibody that might work well on a Tropica chassis?
>>
>
> Why bother?
>
> The Tropica chassis is a heavy pile of crap.
>
> Paul Compton
> www.evguru.co.uk
> www.sciroccoev.co.uk
> www.bvs.org.uk
> www.morini-mania.co.uk
> www.compton.vispa.com/the_named
>
> _______________________________________________
> For subscription options, see
> http://lists.sjsu.edu/mailman/listinfo/ev
>
>
>

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Discussion Starter #6
I didn't intend any specific car suggestion for http://www.usbodysource.com/ , just possible ideas.

Some ideas: Cobra or Corvette convertible. If the wheelbase is too long or too short you could shorten the body at the doors, or cut and move the fenders a bit. Another idea is a shortened and chopped fiberglass truck body.

Another idea is to poke around the kit car sites.

----- Original Message ----
From: Bill Dennis <[email protected]>
To: Electric Vehicle Discussion List <[email protected]>
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 10:36:50 AM
Subject: Re: [EVDL] Using a Unibody


David, what specifically are you suggesting that I look for on that
site? I've visited there before, but found no Miata listed.

Thanks.

Bill Dennis

David Dymaxion wrote:
> http://www.usbodysource.com/
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Bill Dennis <[email protected]>
> To: Electric Vehicle Discussion List <[email protected]>
> Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 9:52:59 AM
> Subject: [EVDL] Using a Unibody
>
>
> I've got a chassis from a Tropica, but no body parts. The Tropica's
> wheelbase is 89 inches. I'm looking to find another body that I
could
> put on the chassis, and I noticed that a Miata has wheelbase in the
> 89-inch to 90-inch. But the Miata is a unibody. Anybody know what's

> involved (or if it's even possible) to take unibody's body parts and
> attach them to a different chassis? Or can anyone think of another
> non-unibody that might work well on a Tropica chassis?
>
>
>
>
>
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> Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks, David. I've considered the truck idea in the past, specifically
a Ford Ranger. I'll look around the site so see what they have.

Bill Dennis

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Discussion Starter #8
Paul Compton wrote:
>> The Tropica chassis is a heavy pile of crap.

Bill Dennis wrote:
> Gee, Paul, thanks for the helpful response.

As one who has owned one of Bob Beaumont's previous EVs, I have to say
that the Tropica was a big improvement over the Citicars. They were
*really* primitive!

But you know, all things are relative. The Ford model T chassis was also
"a heavy pile of crap", but they sold a lot of them anyway.

> Anybody know what's involved (or if it's even possible) to take a
> unibody's body parts and attach them to a different chassis? Or can
> anyone think of another non-unibody that might work well on a Tropica
> chassis?

The Tropica is unique, so I rather doubt you'll find any regular car
body that would fit it. If it were me, I'd probably build my own body
from scratch. In the end, it would probably be less work than trying to
adapt something else.
--
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget the perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
--
Lee A. Hart, 814 8th Ave N, Sartell MN 56377, leeahart_at_earthlink.net

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi Proud Tropica Owner:

Don't give up! Gotta be a way to set it up? I mever met one, but was
wondering HOW ya got one without ANY running gear?Is it one piece? Chassis
AND body, assembled? Did it have a mc Phearson Strut, setup in front? Or
maybe you could put a Old VW front end under it? Rear? Maybe a solid axle,
and lief springs?OR the rear end of the VW ya junked for the front end?

Just a few thoughts, as, as Lee sez; It's LIGHT years agead of the
Shitti-car I mean CITICAR<G>!

Seeya

Bob
----- Original Message -----
From: "Lee Hart" <[email protected]>
To: "Electric Vehicle Discussion List" <[email protected]>
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 5:28 PM
Subject: Re: [EVDL] Using a Unibody


> Paul Compton wrote:
>>> The Tropica chassis is a heavy pile of crap.
>
> Bill Dennis wrote:
>> Gee, Paul, thanks for the helpful response.
>
> As one who has owned one of Bob Beaumont's previous EVs, I have to say
> that the Tropica was a big improvement over the Citicars. They were
> *really* primitive!
>
> But you know, all things are relative. The Ford model T chassis was also
> "a heavy pile of crap", but they sold a lot of them anyway.
>
>> Anybody know what's involved (or if it's even possible) to take a
>> unibody's body parts and attach them to a different chassis? Or can
>> anyone think of another non-unibody that might work well on a Tropica
>> chassis?
>
> The Tropica is unique, so I rather doubt you'll find any regular car
> body that would fit it. If it were me, I'd probably build my own body
> from scratch. In the end, it would probably be less work than trying to
> adapt something else.
> --
> Ring the bells that still can ring
> Forget the perfect offering
> There is a crack in everything
> That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
> --
> Lee A. Hart, 814 8th Ave N, Sartell MN 56377, leeahart_at_earthlink.net
>
> _______________________________________________
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>
> --
> Internal Virus Database is out-of-date.
> Checked by AVG Free Edition.
> Version: 7.5.488 / Virus Database: 269.13.28/1023 - Release Date:
> 9/22/2007 1:27 PM
>
>

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Discussion Starter #10
Bill,

>From this site: http://www.tropicaev.org/tphotos.html#rsusp it looks
like the chassis is aluminum and strong. I like David's idea. Could
you put a cab from a 1950's truck down over the middle portion, with a
fiberglass one piece front end, and a very light, short, flat bed on the
rear to allow the rear swing arms and motors to be seen from the back
and sides? How much of a weight hit would you take on a steel cab? It
could be chopped to give a lower roof line to match a short wheel base.

The batteries are in a T shaped carrier and channel down the middle of
the vehicle. Is there any way to modify this for easier access? If a
battery connection gives out, you have to tow it back to your shop, get
out the trolley and slide the batteries out the front.

Good luck!

Alan

-----Original Message-----
From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]] On
Behalf Of Bill Dennis
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 8:53 AM
To: Electric Vehicle Discussion List
Subject: [EVDL] Using a Unibody

I've got a chassis from a Tropica, but no body parts. The Tropica's
wheelbase is 89 inches. I'm looking to find another body that I could
put on the chassis, and I noticed that a Miata has wheelbase in the
89-inch to 90-inch. But the Miata is a unibody. Anybody know what's
involved (or if it's even possible) to take unibody's body parts and
attach them to a different chassis? Or can anyone think of another
non-unibody that might work well on a Tropica chassis?

Thanks.

Bill Dennis

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Discussion Starter #11
From: Alan Brinkman
> From this site: http://www.tropicaev.org/tphotos.html#rsusp it
> looks like the chassis is aluminum and strong.

It looks a *lot* like one of Bob McKee's early Sundancers, but is a lot heavier (1960 lbs). The Sundancer weighed 830 lbs plus 780 lbs of batteries (twelve 6v golf cart batteries) for a total of 1610 lbs.

The Sundancer body design might work (though you'd have to build it yourself). There was a bottom fiberglass "tub" which contained the wheel wells, floor, and seats. Then there was the body, which included the fenders, front and rear bumpers, dashboard, hood, trunk, and door areas (though the hood, trunk, and door areas were fixed panels that did not open). The final piece was the roof, which included all the windows. To enter or exit the car, or get access to the hood and trunk areas, the entire roof was hinged at the front and lifted up.



--
"Excellence does not require perfection." -- Henry James
--
Lee A. Hart, 814 8th Ave N, Sartell MN 56377, leeahart-at-earthlink.net

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Discussion Starter #12
On 17 Oct 2007 at 12:32, Bill Dennis wrote:

> Gee, Paul, thanks for the helpful response.

After Paul Compton wrote :

> > Why bother?
> >
> > The Tropica chassis is a heavy pile of crap.
> >
>

Actually, while it's probably not what you want to hear - you have a chassis
you'd like to use - Paul's is probably more helpful advice than you realize.
He might have phrased it more kindly, and it might be a slight
exaggeration, but I don't think he's far off the mark. The Tropica was a
sexy looking EV but it had some flaws. It really >was< on the heavy side.


Basically, the Tropica was an updated Citicar. The same person was
responsible for both. He certainly learned from his experiences with the
Citicar - but I'm not sure he always learned the RIGHT lesson! Both cars
were in some ways behind the times. From what I recall, the Citicar used 20
year old suspension concepts when it was conceived in the early 1970s, and
so did the Tropica when it was developed in the early 1990s.

Some of the Tropica's design was a result of Beaumont's emotional (over-)
reaction to NHTSA's fines for the Citicar's non-compliance. Those fines
were a large part of what wrecked his first company, so who can blame him?

That's the reason for the Tropica's bizarre cable-operated steering system,
for example. The Citicar was popped for having a non-collapsable steering
column. IIRC, in NHTSA's crash tests, it impaled the dummy. This sad
sequence of events is documented in the book "The Lost Cord." I have a copy
somewhere around here, but I'll admit I didn't dig it up to check my memory
on this.

Anyway, to come the the point - I wouldn't want to say that your chassis
can't be used, but I'm not sure it's worth it. I think you'll put a lot
less effort into a more conventional conversion and probably have an EV
that's at least as practical. But I could be wrong; try it and see!

David Roden - Akron, Ohio, USA
EVDL Administrator

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
EVDL Information: http://www.evdl.org/help/
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Note: mail sent to "evpost" or "etpost" addresses will not
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Discussion Starter #13
David,

"Basically, the Tropica was an updated Citicar." Oh please! Other than
having 4 wheels and Bob behind it there's no similarity at all.

Yes the chassis is heavy. No the steering isn't cable driven. It's
hydraulic. You can call either bizarre if you want to.

I own a Tropica and drive it every day. Yes it has it's issues, some
I've addressed and some I only dream of. In the mean time I just drive
it.

I do believe that Bill will have a heck of a time finding something to
fit that chassis. Building one may be a solution to taking the whole
front off the car to service the batteries.

Steve
Owner Tropica #16



On 17 Oct 2007 at 12:32, Bill Dennis wrote:

> Gee, Paul, thanks for the helpful response.

After Paul Compton wrote :

> > Why bother?
> >
> > The Tropica chassis is a heavy pile of crap.
> >
>

Actually, while it's probably not what you want to hear - you have a
chassis
you'd like to use - Paul's is probably more helpful advice than you
realize.
He might have phrased it more kindly, and it might be a slight
exaggeration, but I don't think he's far off the mark. The Tropica was
a
sexy looking EV but it had some flaws. It really >was< on the heavy
side.


Basically, the Tropica was an updated Citicar. The same person was
responsible for both. He certainly learned from his experiences with
the
Citicar - but I'm not sure he always learned the RIGHT lesson! Both
cars
were in some ways behind the times. From what I recall, the Citicar
used 20
year old suspension concepts when it was conceived in the early 1970s,
and
so did the Tropica when it was developed in the early 1990s.

Some of the Tropica's design was a result of Beaumont's emotional
(over-)
reaction to NHTSA's fines for the Citicar's non-compliance. Those fines
were a large part of what wrecked his first company, so who can blame
him?

That's the reason for the Tropica's bizarre cable-operated steering
system,
for example. The Citicar was popped for having a non-collapsable
steering
column. IIRC, in NHTSA's crash tests, it impaled the dummy. This sad
sequence of events is documented in the book "The Lost Cord." I have a
copy
somewhere around here, but I'll admit I didn't dig it up to check my
memory
on this.

Anyway, to come the the point - I wouldn't want to say that your
chassis
can't be used, but I'm not sure it's worth it. I think you'll put a lot
less effort into a more conventional conversion and probably have an EV
that's at least as practical. But I could be wrong; try it and see!

David Roden - Akron, Ohio, USA
EVDL Administrator

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
EVDL Information: http://www.evdl.org/help/
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Note: mail sent to "evpost" or "etpost" addresses will not
reach me. To send a private message, please obtain my
email address from the webpage http://www.evdl.org/help/ .
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


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-----Original Message-----
From: David Roden <[email protected]>
To: Electric Vehicle Discussion List <[email protected]>
Sent: Fri, 19 Oct 2007 4:46 pm
Subject: Re: [EVDL] Using a Unibody



On 17 Oct 2007 at 12:32, Bill Dennis wrote:

> Gee, Paul, thanks for the helpful response.

After Paul Compton wrote :

> > Why bother?
> >
> > The Tropica chassis is a heavy pile of crap.
> >
>

Actually, while it's probably not what you want to hear - you have a
chassis
you'd like to use - Paul's is probably more helpful advice than you
realize.
He might have phrased it more kindly, and it might be a slight
exaggeration, but I don't think he's far off the mark. The Tropica was
a
sexy looking EV but it had some flaws. It really >was< on the heavy
side.


Basically, the Tropica was an updated Citicar. The same person was
responsible for both. He certainly learned from his experiences with
the
Citicar - but I'm not sure he always learned the RIGHT lesson! Both
cars
were in some ways behind the times. From what I recall, the Citicar
used 20
year old suspension concepts when it was conceived in the early 1970s,
and
so did the Tropica when it was developed in the early 1990s.

Some of the Tropica's design was a result of Beaumont's emotional
(over-)
reaction to NHTSA's fines for the Citicar's non-compliance. Those fines
were a large part of what wrecked his first company, so who can blame
him?

That's the reason for the Tropica's bizarre cable-operated steering
system,
for example. The Citicar was popped for having a non-collapsable
steering
column. IIRC, in NHTSA's crash tests, it impaled the dummy. This sad
sequence of events is documented in the book "The Lost Cord." I have a
copy
somewhere around here, but I'll admit I didn't dig it up to check my
memory
on this.

Anyway, to come the the point - I wouldn't want to say that your
chassis
can't be used, but I'm not sure it's worth it. I think you'll put a lot
less effort into a more conventional conversion and probably have an EV
that's at least as practical. But I could be wrong; try it and see!

David Roden - Akron, Ohio, USA
EVDL Administrator

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
EVDL Information: http://www.evdl.org/help/
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Note: mail sent to "evpost" or "etpost" addresses will not
reach me. To send a private message, please obtain my
email address from the webpage http://www.evdl.org/help/ .
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


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Discussion Starter #14
What do you mean the steering is hydraulic?

It is illegal in California at least, not to have a mechanical path from
hand to wheel

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Discussion Starter #15
I believe it's marine hardware.Like what you might find steering an
outboard motor.

Steve



-----Original Message-----
From: Jeff Shanab <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Sent: Sat, 20 Oct 2007 7:26 pm
Subject: Re: [EVDL] Using a Unibody



What do you mean the steering is hydraulic?

It is illegal in California at least, not to have a mechanical path from
hand to wheel

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Discussion Starter #16
On 19 Oct 2007 at 20:37, [email protected] wrote:

> No the steering isn't cable driven. It's hydraulic.

Sorry, I was sure I remembered the Tropica steering being cable operated.

Ah, here it is! That's what Car and Drver reported when they tested the
Tropica prototype in the March, 1994 issue. I transcribed the piece for the
EVDL back then, and believe it or not I still have the text (though it took
a pretty exhaustive search of my oldest archives to find it). Here's what it
says :

"To go along with the Tropica's exotic looks are several clever features,
such as a fixed driver's seat with adjustable pedals, and cable actuated
steering. In place of a conventional steering column, the Tropica mounts a
lightweight rack and pinion gear just behind the dash. A heavy duty marine
steering cable is used to connect this rack to a slave rack up front that
turns the wheels. The doors and passive restraints were not functional on
our fiberglass-bodied prototype. Production cars will use lighter vacuum-
formed ABS plastic."

But, it turns out that the cable steering did indeed give way to hydraulic
by the time Renaissance Cars assembled their first few proof-of-concept
cars. (By that time the appearance had changed quite a bit, too.) I found
an EVDL post from Shannon Cash, dated 2 Nov 1994, with the then-current
status of the Tropica. It included this statement :

STANDARD SAFETY EQUIPMENT:
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
* Stainless steel safety roll-bar * Main power disconnect switch
* Non-lock, zero drag 4 wheel disc brakes * 3 point passive
restraint system * Impact resistance polymer bumpers * Energy
absorbing safety side door beams * Front/rear anti-sway bars *
Hydraulic columnless steering * Permanently attached occupant
seating * NOTE: The entire TROPICA line of electric vehicles will
meet or exceed all applicable federal crash worthiness standards.

= = = = =

So, assuming you have one of the few pre-production prototypes that were
built, that would explain the hydraulic steering.

PS - If you'd like to read the complete text of the 1994 Car and Drver
article, I've posted it in the EVDL Library. Sorry, I didn't have a scanner
in those days, so I wasn't able to scan the photos. I wish I had, because
the prototype looked quite a bit different from the pre-production cars -
not at all like a 'Vette, more like a Cobra. To my eyes the prototype was
more attractive than the later version, but probably most people would
prefer the 'Vette look.

I probably still have the original copy of the magazine somewhere, so maybe
someday I'll find it and add those too. For now, the text will have to do.


http://evdl.org/docs/tropica_cd.pdf

David Roden - Akron, Ohio, USA
EVDL Administrator

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Discussion Starter #17
Hi David,

Right you are. I'd forgotten that the prototype had cable steering. It
also had no working doors, no wheel wells and the rollers to remove the
batteries are actually in the car not an external rack. The owner of
the prototype lives about 20 miles north of me. Some day I have to go
up and see it. .

Thanks for posting the text of the Car and Driver article. I was able
to order the Car and Driver with the article in it from a place that
sold old magazines.

I do have one of the "production" cars. #16. I'd be interested in
knowing where the blue Zebra ended up. I believe it was sold with some
of Don Johnson's cars at auction a few years ago but then it
disappeared.

Steve

-----Original Message-----
From: David Roden <[email protected]>
To: Electric Vehicle Discussion List <[email protected]>
Sent: Sat, 20 Oct 2007 10:44 pm
Subject: Re: [EVDL] Using a Unibody



On 19 Oct 2007 at 20:37, [email protected] wrote:

> No the steering isn't cable driven. It's hydraulic.

Sorry, I was sure I remembered the Tropica steering being cable
operated.

Ah, here it is! That's what Car and Drver reported when they tested
the
Tropica prototype in the March, 1994 issue. I transcribed the piece
for the
EVDL back then, and believe it or not I still have the text (though it
took
a pretty exhaustive search of my oldest archives to find it). Here's
what it
says :

"To go along with the Tropica's exotic looks are several clever
features,
such as a fixed driver's seat with adjustable pedals, and cable
actuated
steering. In place of a conventional steering column, the Tropica
mounts a
lightweight rack and pinion gear just behind the dash. A heavy duty
marine
steering cable is used to connect this rack to a slave rack up front
that
turns the wheels. The doors and passive restraints were not functional
on
our fiberglass-bodied prototype. Production cars will use lighter
vacuum-
formed ABS plastic."

But, it turns out that the cable steering did indeed give way to
hydraulic
by the time Renaissance Cars assembled their first few proof-of-concept
cars. (By that time the appearance had changed quite a bit, too.) I
found
an EVDL post from Shannon Cash, dated 2 Nov 1994, with the
then-current
status of the Tropica. It included this statement :

STANDARD SAFETY EQUIPMENT:
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
* Stainless steel safety roll-bar * Main power disconnect switch
* Non-lock, zero drag 4 wheel disc brakes * 3 point passive
restraint system * Impact resistance polymer bumpers * Energy
absorbing safety side door beams * Front/rear anti-sway bars *
Hydraulic columnless steering * Permanently attached occupant
seating * NOTE: The entire TROPICA line of electric vehicles will
meet or exceed all applicable federal crash worthiness standards.

= = = = =

So, assuming you have one of the few pre-production prototypes that
were
built, that would explain the hydraulic steering.

PS - If you'd like to read the complete text of the 1994 Car and Drver
article, I've posted it in the EVDL Library. Sorry, I didn't have a
scanner
in those days, so I wasn't able to scan the photos. I wish I had,
because
the prototype looked quite a bit different from the pre-production cars
-
not at all like a 'Vette, more like a Cobra. To my eyes the prototype
was
more attractive than the later version, but probably most people would
prefer the 'Vette look.

I probably still have the original copy of the magazine somewhere, so
maybe
someday I'll find it and add those too. For now, the text will have to
do.


http://evdl.org/docs/tropica_cd.pdf

David Roden - Akron, Ohio, USA
EVDL Administrator

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