This project was inspired by the "Locost" community, building Lotus Seven replica cars using low-power donor vehicles and knowledge from an online community of Lotus enthusiasts. While my Locost is on hold while I study at Ohio State, this project cemented my interest in engineering, and sparked a passion for creation.
I began by purchasing a 1986 Camaro donor vehicle from the local scrapyard. This car was abandoned by its original owner, and was functional before the gas tank was removed by another customer for spare parts. Having the complete vehicle was advantageous, as I was certain all of the harnesses, dash components, hoses, and parts that were difficult to diagnose were all intact and functional. After removing all of the powertrain components, wiring, and accesories, the car was sold back to a scrapyard to create space for the new frame build.
I was able to modify a common open-source Locost design, and fabricate a steel frame from scratch. A custom-designed wooden jig (shown above) ensured squareness and dimensionality during the welding process. Once the frame was built, I designed and fabricated a trailing arm suspension for the rear, and a dual wishbone suspension for the front. At this point, the wheels were added, the engine and transmission mounts were fabricated, and the engine and manual transmission were installed in the frame.
Once the frame was built, I designed and fabricated a trailing arm suspension for the rear, and a dual wishbone suspension for the front. An intense amount of research went into this process in order to get the proper camber, caster, and toe. It was a wonderful opportunity to flex my trig and math skills. At this point, the wheels were added, the engine and transmission mounts were fabricated, and the engine and manual transmission were installed in the frame.
Here are a few fun photos from the build. I'd like to thank my dad for his endless support and knowledge throughout the process, and my mom for allowing me to keep 2 cars in her garage and helping out wherever she could. Looking back, I learned so much about design, how automobiles work, and my personal interests.
After leaving for college, I sold the Lotus project to another car enthusiast in the NE Ohio area. He was excited about the clean, straight frame and suspension, and eager to continue the build as a personal project. While it was sad to say farewell, I can't wait to see the finished product.