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Unread 08-29-2011, 07:41 AM   #1
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Default Rhythm - Scratch Built Sports Car

Thanks again for the great welcome to CarForum.net's Community.

I'm going to do my best in posting the build journey that started when I was about 16ish and summarize how Rhythm came to be. Basically one evening, my dad and I began discussing whether to keep searching for a classic vehicle to customize or ... an idea totally off the wall.... venture out and build something from scratch. We were having a hard time to find something cool to bring home and customize so this lead us to sketching out a few conceptual drawings for a custom mid-engine vehicle.

Some styling cues were borrowed from classic European sports cars as well as American muscle cars of the late 60's..thanks to all the photos I was collecting over the years. The SR-71 Blackbird played a key role with regards to the shape of the vehicle - such as the concave surfaces flowing from the front fenders and into the turbos...my dad is really into planes and jets. The interior design was based loosely around a fighterjet ****pit. Our goal was to create something that may have resembled a factory produced elegant supercar in the 60's.



Then the fun began - building the car. By this time I was 19/20...for the prior 3 years after my homework was completed...of course ... I would sketch out ideas, learned how different suspensions worked, studied chassis designs... and so on. I still have the 3" binder full of this information I scrounged(from the library since the internet wasn't that mainstream back then) as well as a Chilton's Automotive repair manual covering vehicle repairs from the late 50's and 60's. My dad insisted that this was an important step prior to tackling such a project...

So, under his guidance and with the limited tools I had available to me I learned how to shape metal, weld, do bodywork, and paint. I had some experience repairing our own vehicles, but not to the degree required in creating an entire car. That came from just picking up the tools and getting into the work.

Rhythm was handcrafted from flat sheet metal entirely from scratch and taking 8 years (8000 hours) to complete. As for the powerplant, I utilized a 'hotrodded' 350 Chevy V8 mounted in a reverse rotation (pulleys facing the back of the car) manner to push as much weight ahead of the rear wheels. The vehicle is licensed as a fully functional road vehicle.







Thanks for looking. More to come...
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Unread 08-29-2011, 02:44 PM   #2
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Did you use the interior from an existing vehicle or was that entirely custom too?
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Unread 08-29-2011, 06:37 PM   #3
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Did you use the interior from an existing vehicle or was that entirely custom too?
... entirely custom too ... right down to the horn, door sil buttons/emblems which were molded and hand painted.

The "chrome" trim accents on the exterior were all hand-shaped from 1"x2" aluminum stock and the brushed stainless in the interior were hand-shaped and re-brushed so that the grain would flow with the contours of the dash...
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Unread 08-29-2011, 06:45 PM   #4
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So I guess the best place would be to start with the chassis and how it was built.

The main chassis was designed and fabricated specifically for this vehicle in our shop from scratch. DOM tubing was bent into a full length frame - 2 continuous rails per side(stacked one over the other with a web in between) to create an I-beam effect. A FWD engine cradle from a mid-size vehicle which had the lower A-arms and sway bar already incorporated into it was mounted in the rear with Thunderbird McPherson struts utilized for the rear suspension. Rhythm's front suspension uses a twin A-arm setup with manual rack and pinion for steering.


The DOM tubing provided the perfect opportunity to eliminate cooling lines between the engine and rad by running the coolant within the frame itself.


16Ga sheet metal formed to create the rear inner fenders. The factory 'caps' that the McPherson struts bolt into were blended into the surrounding metal.


Primered and ready for paint.


All painted and assembled. A trunk was incorporated into the design behind the temporary V6 engine.

The car ran with the he transverse V6 until the SBC 350 was ready, then it was deep 6'd. This little change made putting your foot into it a little more fun...at the expense of a much smaller trunk. To maintain Rhythm's theme I picked up a hot rodded Chevy 350 and mated it to a Caddy Seville TH325-4L trans(4spd). The added weight and shift in weight bias within the car was a large concern. So with specific component upgrades, mounting the engine in a reverse rotation manner (pulleys facing the rear) and pushing the engine to the front as far as possible without compromising the CV angles we were able to fit the powerplant in quite nicely.

With any project, as I'm sure many know there is always a tweak here and there. In this case, there were 4 major tweaks...first, we had to create a BOP plate to connect the trans to the engine...which wasn't too bad. Second, with the unit sitting backwards, we ended up with 4 reverse gears and one forward gear! Wild huh? So, that meant flipping the differential 180* though the use of another adapter plate. The other added benefit was that it lowered the unit by 1.375"...lower centre of mass is always an added benefit. In doing that though, the stub shaft had to pass though between the crankshaft journals. Even wilder huh? This lead up the the 3rd tweak whereas a hole was made in the oil pan, sleeved, and therefore allowed the shaft to pass through. When the oil pan is installed there, the sleeve has 3/16" clearance between it and the journals that move past it. Correct spacing was accomplished by carefully measuring the distance from the rear of the engine block to where the centre of the stub shaft was to be. Then the adapter plate with specific thicknesses were created to get the spacing just right... and finally 4th, the design and fabrication of a set of reversed headers.

Here are some of the initial pictures of the mock up.

After the rear BOP plate was created ... I needed a set of heads.


As mentioned above, adapter plate thicknesses played a crucial role in centering the drive axle between the crank journals...definitely followed the "measure 3 times...cut once" rule here.


All together and bolted. Unfortunately not a runner yet...


Some math to determine the correct centre of mass ...


In about an hour everything was stripped out and clearanced for the new engine.


Trimming out the old mounts...


You see what I meant about the stub shaft...




I didn't like the appearance of that 'stock' air breather...so I came up with this cold air induction housing after a few hours.



Did a little tuck shrinking to create the housing's shape.


Shaping and scribing the duct attachments.


Mocked up in the vehicle...now its time for some primer and paint.

When the top turbo fans are switched on, the engine loves it... all that extra air.
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Unread 09-02-2011, 07:01 AM   #5
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Ok...here goes the exterior sheet metal segment of Rhythm's build.

As a precursor to the pictures, the only tools I started with to shape the steel panels was a set of about 9 hammers(you'll see them hung up in some of the photos), some dollies...creating more as were required, and a 3/4" rubber mat. Unfortunately at the time, I was unaware of Lancaster shrinker/stretchers, English Wheels and planishing hammers...they would have made life soooo much easier.

Exterior Design and Build


The turbos were created by first rolling the sheet metal over a large PVC pipe...then planishing the material with a hammer and dolly to stretch it and give it the convex curve. To smooth out the highs and lows, the turbo was sanded with a long board to illuminate the highs ... followed by more hammer and dolly work.


This was created using a very primitive english wheel that I built using two truck bearings shown below...



In an effort to speed up the process I was wondering if two steel wheels, one with a crown...the other flat, would produce the same result as me stretching the metal by hitting the hammer against the dollie in a longitudinal direction. After scrounging some bearings, box tubing, and utilizing the adjuster on our press I came up with this crazy machine.

And while there were some serious drawbacks like the height between the anvil mount arms, and the extremely narrow point of contact ...it worked! Yes, there was some tracking in the pieces...but most of them were smooth out running perpendicular with really light pressure...and the remainder with the good ol' hammer and dollie.








Yes, that was a Jag hood, that was cut up and 'readjusted' for a more aggressive appearance.

Thanks for looking.
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Unread 09-02-2011, 01:20 PM   #6
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Pretty nifty car. I like it. Only thing I'd change is the gearbox. I'd prefer a manual, especially in a sports car, but if an automatic is the only option perhaps a less slushy one? Any automatic you pull from a Caddy is going to be incredibly slushy, and that's just not befitting a sports car.
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1984 Ford F150 | 4x2 | 300ci six | granny four | 3.55 rear end | 210K | Brakes shot. Rear drums are doing most of the work. Not fit to drive due to that.
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Unread 09-02-2011, 02:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenny McCormick View Post
Pretty nifty car. I like it. Only thing I'd change is the gearbox. I'd prefer a manual, especially in a sports car, but if an automatic is the only option perhaps a less slushy one? Any automatic you pull from a Caddy is going to be incredibly slushy, and that's just not befitting a sports car.
I'm with you on the trans Kenny! That's why the spools were upgraded ... to get rid of that slushy feel. She don't feel like your granddad's caddy no more hehe.

Thanks for the thumbs up.

R2, my next build has a 6 Speed Porsche G50 going in When you get a minute feel free to check it out.

Cheers!
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Unread 09-02-2011, 09:32 PM   #8
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Oooooooooh. Any thought of keeping the flat six that was originally stuck on the end of that Porsche gearbox as well? The SBC sounds nice but I think the Porsche flat six will be better packaging wise and can make the same power.
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Tired Iron ain't got no time to wear out...

My rigs:

1985 Ford F150 | 4x2 | 300ci OHV inline six | 4-speed OD manual | 310K | No power brakes | Running 100% - It hasn't driven this good in 15 years!

1984 Ford F150 | 4x2 | 300ci six | granny four | 3.55 rear end | 210K | Brakes shot. Rear drums are doing most of the work. Not fit to drive due to that.
1997 Ford Explorer XLT | 4.0L Vulcan V6 | 5-speed automatic | shift-on-the-fly 4WD | 210,000 miles | Running 95% - Needs brakes on all four corners + bald tires
1989 Ford F150 | 300cid six...again | 5-speed | 4x4 | 160K | Needs brakes done as well. Oi!

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Unread 09-06-2011, 07:03 AM   #9
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All the pieces for the fascia cutout and prepped. Each piece had the 5/16" edge/lip tipped over a custom shaped anvil with a hammer. It was truly a difficult task(at the time) to create a consistent edge that could be butt jointed with the next piece. You can also see how much more length was added to the hood not only by staggering it, but also by adding the piece at the rear. The pivots created to flip the hood forward were tucked in under the fascia(the yellow things).


Flirting with a new feature out of cardboard to flow the front scoop into the headlights.


The DOM frame can just barely be made out ... inside the front scoop.
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Unread 09-12-2011, 06:27 AM   #10
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Continuing on with the build process...


Creating the upper faux scoop for the front hood...something I'd now form out of one piece.


Hood all welded up and headlight surrounds being fitted.


At this stage I believe we were getting ready to finish bringing the bumper feature around the corner.


Looking back...I can only remember all the hours of welding and hammer/dollie work...


Gapping the trunk lid with the body.
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