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Has anyone built from scratch?

6364 Views 26 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Thumper
Hi. I'm fairly new here and have been fascinated by the wisdom and information available here. I am, however, intrigued because there seem to be very few people building from scratch and those vehicles which are aren't usually for road use.

I reckon that if a car were build from scratch and some concessions were made to the necessities of weight, rolling resistance and aerodynamics, and one modified one's expectations of what the car could do (i.e. accept that there is limited boot space etc.) then the performance and range for a given elecrical setup could be significantly improved.

I've built a few vehicles and reckon (if using LiPos) that a 2-seater vehicle could come in well under 300kg without passengers, if not close to 200kg and have a CDA of under 0.2 if well designed.

Has anyone tried to build from scratch or have any advice on such a policy? There must be something I'm missing.

Thoughts and inspiration welcome
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Ahem! (Stands up and waves hand!);)...
Joins in with Woody (standing and waving), count me in that mess! :)

The thing about any serious custom project, especially a scratch-built vehicle, is there are just a tremendous amount of decisions to make. As I'm sure Woody, and the other scratch-builders here, can attest to - just getting to the point where you know what you really need/want to build for a chassis can be like climbing a mountain. Every decision leads to ten more... That's before you ever throw the first spark. Unless you're building an exact replicar, clone, spec-class racer, or something otherwise pre-determined, that process grows exponentially as you build. Most people simply don't have the time and/or finances and/or patience to become that involved.

building a car that proves a concept or wins a race means very little in the real world of 1-ton trucks, stop-n-go traffic, parking, freeways, 50mpg winds, rain, ice, snow, 16yr old drivers, 96 year old drivers, etc, etc. It isn't about whats POSSIBLE, it is about whats PRACTICAL and SAFE.
I think it's also easy for people to underestimate the time, money, design, and engineering that goes into a standard production vehicle. Honestly, most modern production vehicles are hard to beat. So, when you do a conversion, you take advantage of millions of dollars of development work. The challenge is just to do the best you can to make the EV conversion a seamless part of the original vehicle. That can be a serious challenge in itself for even a decent custom or conversion shop.

I've seen many custom vehicle projects, based on production vehicles, over the years I've been in the industry that resulted in almost immediately dissatisfaction when the owner finally got to enjoy them. It's easy to make a production vehicle feel, handle, and ride like a pile of crap - much easier to build a pile of crap from scratch. That makes a conversion an easier risk to swallow.
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Just for clarification, there are two reasons (that I can think of right now) for building a vehicle from scratch.
  1. A Sense of Satisfaction that only comes from transforming raw materials into something real and functional. Making custom parts is an awesome feeling in itself, but seeing an entire vehicle rise from the dust, and knowing you're the reason, is beyond descritption.
  2. A Concept for Which No Good Base Exists. Sometimes there is just nothing even close enough to avoid compromising the design and goals of the project. Many custom one-off hot rods happen this way, because there just isn't anything original close enough, or worth starting with. The job is easier from scratch.
The key is that real-world functionality, in the two cases I listed, is a subordinate goal - if one at all. I decided to build mine solely for the first reason. I have been doing custom work for over two decades, but never did a complete scratch build. I did a couple that were so intense they would have been better if they had been started from scratch (lesson learned), but I wanted to put the notch on my walking stick of having done a full scratch-build.

In it up to my neck now, with an incredibly long way to go, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything I have ever done before! It's beyond description. I see myself doing it again...
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