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Concept corner: bent outta shape

6 December 2017



 We like crazy concepts, and you can bet your bottom dollar that the bloke who dreamed up this issue’s cover car has one hell of a concept in mind

Brian Mathews thinks outside the box. That’s the easiest way to explain the patina-covered Galaxie on the cover of this month’s issue — a car that we reckon is one of the coolest we’ve ever featured. It’s a giant middle finger to convention, and that’s what makes it so appealing. 
Knowing the way Brian treats the ‘normal’ way of doing things, the concept he’s fronted up with should come as no surprise.

As he explains, “I’d start with a late-model Bentley Continental GT and have it on a full aftermarket chassis — either an Art Morrison or a custom-built John Hinton frame — powered by a Jon Kaase Boss Shotgun engine and stick shift.”

As the Bentley Continental GT left the factory in Crewe, Britain, with a full monocoque chassis, this would be easier said than done. Effectively, the full front end, firewall, floor, and boot floor would need to be disposed of, with custom-fabricated replacements worked in — along with suitable mounts — allowing the vehicle to sit over the trick new frame. The bonus of this would be the ability to engineer in a suitably low ride height without compromising the suspension geometry and handling ability. 

This modern-day equivalent of channelling, that old hot-rodding favourite, would also see the huge Kaase Boss Nine engine sitting somewhat higher relative to the body. 

While Brian would like a big, supercharged motor, the likelihood of falling foul of forward visibility requirements means that he’d choose the next best — or better, depending on who you ask! — option, in the form of eight-stack injection through the bonnet. 

“I know an auto would make sense, but it’s just got to be a manual. To keep with the modern theme, I’d go for a Tremec six-speed, which should hold up to the torque,” Brian says. 

Since the Wilwood brakes provided with the Art Morrison chassis would be smaller in overall diameter than the stock Bentley brakes, there ain’t no way the stock rollers would remain. 
Classically old-school Torq Thrust D wheels would just scream muscle, just as the rest of this machine’s underpinnings would, and it doesn’t get much tougher than a set of 15×10-inch fronts and 15×12-inch inch rears, wrapped in fat Hoosier street tyres with ample sidewall to fill those huge wheel arches. The finishing touches, though, are what would really set this thing part. 

“I’d like a patina-style finish,” Brian says. “I don’t think there’d be any of those — just have it painted or wrapped to look as though it had been sitting out in a desert for a few years, and then pulled out and hot rodded.” 

We’re into this idea in a big way; what do you reckon? 

Justin from LVVTA says: 
“There are a few things to think about here, mainly due to the fact that this vehicle would have started life as a frontal-impact-compliant vehicle. It’s a legal requirement for all MA [passenger]–class vehicles manufactured after 1999 that are being imported into New Zealand to comply with frontal-impact standards. This is an area that is very restrictive when it comes to the modifications you can carry out on or around frontal impact–related systems. That’s because modern frontal-impact compliance is proven by way of crash-testing, and there’s no easy way to quantify the effect of modifications on the crash systems in the car other than by doing a crash-test. For obvious reasons, that’s not practical, so modification in these areas is largely taboo. 

“This ‘problem’, however, fits in well with the next part of the concept, which is converting the monocoque bodyshell into a separate body-chassis vehicle. This — based on the current definition of ‘scratch built’ — creates a situation in which the only outcome, when a monocoque vehicle is converted to become a separate body-chassis vehicle, can be that the vehicle becomes deemed a scratch-built vehicle. 

“While that means that the car would have to be RHD, and would be referred to as an ‘LVV Bentley replica’, it would allow you to do the modifications that you want to do. It would also mean that you could potentially source a written-off donor car with undercarriage damage, saving a large chunk on the purchase price. 

“One unfortunate casualty of the vehicle becoming a scratch built is that SRS airbags can’t remain, due to the custom chassis, which, as we stated earlier, would absorb crash energy differently from the original chassis. Without the benefit of crash-testing, there’s no way of making sure that the ‘pulse-timing’ — the split second in which an airbag deploys — would be correct. One split second out, and the airbag could cause you, or your passenger, more injuries than it could protect you from. 

“The custom chassis would need to meet all the applicable requirements from the Chassis Design and Construction chapter of The New Zealand Car Construction Manual, which also includes a section on introducing a frontal-impact ‘crumple zone’, in plain English terms. 
“The vehicle should fly through the other requirements regarding the safety-related systems in the body: wipers, seat-belt anchorages — other than the floor anchorages, which would be custom and would need to meet current requirements — seats, and interior impact, and floor, body, and chassis attachments, which are all based on good-practice panel-fabrication methods. 

“This one’s sure going to stir up the purists on both sides of the fence, and it’s bound to cause some banter. 

“Dan — our resident Englishman / English car proponent and mechanical engineer — gave his opinion: ‘The panels are alloy, so the rusty patina will need to be faked; may as well make it wood-grain effect, and paint a Confederate flag on the roof. I’m off to throw up.’ 

“Based on that reaction, the rest of us here can’t think of any reason not to forge ahead with this outstanding middle finger to the establishment!”

Your thoughts on last month’s GTSR Group C concept:

Darryl Curran: Would love to do a modern Walky style kit on my Senator in the same vein as the modern Brockies.

Ronald Wawatai: Yeah, I remember the Group C cars ’n’ this ain’t a bad effort; missing the side-exit exhausts, a few holes in the bonnet, and maybe a few more in the flares to help cool those massive brakes; not my colour, but still a good effort — maybe something more sinister like black ’n’ silver.