There are innumerable details that will need to be worked out and documented before I cut the first piece of steel or even purchase a donor bike for this project, but I am very excited to see a lot of the big picture stuff starting to come together. Yesterday I was introduced to the Cycle Kart website and on that site is a PDF that lets you play around with your own race car designs. I took that a step further and what I’ve come up with may very well be the alpha design for Project Streetliner.
Starting with the original artwork, I kept the european style race grill. I am completely in love with this era of race cars. There’s a more contemporary tie-in though — a whole class of open-wheel streamliners that race for land speed records at Bonneville.
First step was to make a trike out of it. Go go gadget Photoshop!
With the correct number of wheels in play, it was time to scale them down to the correct proportion, about a 14″ wheel. It was at this point that I also realized that the “engine compartment” of a car like this would make a splendid luggage compartment for the Streetliner. I also faked a bit of the tilting suspension and removed some of the superfluous body shape details.
With the wheels properly sized and placed, I added rough wheel pants. I love the open-wheel look, but with efficiency the name of the game, wheel pants are a must. It’s amazing how much they alter the character of the vehicle. What before still looked like a toy ’30s era racer, now looks like a ’30s era airplane. Whatever the final shape, if the vehicle is strongly identifying with a particular era, I want to carry that through in the design details. I’ve also thought about perhaps a steam punk influence — lots of wood and brass.
I also lengthened the rear end to accommodate the rear engine placement, and raised the rear up to serve as more comprehensive roll protection.
I corrected the perspective on the luggage door, and moved the louvers down to act as somewhere for air to exit after it passes through the radiator up front. I also deleted the steering wheel and added a small windscreen. Like with a motorcycle of scooter, it needs to stay low enough that its lip is just below my line of sight. My plan is to have a soft top tonneau cover for those days I get caught in the rain unexpectedly, but also a removable hard-top canopy for those days when I know it’ll be raining.
One thing still troubled me. As I looked at fitting a canopy, the head-and-shoulders profile of the rear end had to transition to the smooth arc of the windscreen. Not only would that make for quite a troublesome fabrication, but the visual distortion would be like driving in a fun house. No thanks. It’s a little less aerodynamic, but this shape is going to be infinitely simpler to construct both the underlying safety cage and the canopy. I could always vent the areas left or right of my head for less drag when open.
Finally, a mockup of the canopy.
The more time I spend with this design, the more I really like it. Obviously, it’ll evolve, but this style has a lot going for it. It’s incredibly low profile, should be relatively straightforward to construct, and with the ample luggage compartment it ought to be very practical. It’ll also look like absolutely nothing else on the road, and I love that. But it ought to also be very comfortable, impressively safe, and downright useful.