Car Design

All about Car Design and Construction

When one considers designing or building their own car, one will need to familiarise themselves with the fundamentals of how cars function. All this will depend on how challenging the design and construction of the car desires to build. Light modifications to a normal road car will require less work as compared to building a car from scratch.

One should not be discouraged by the technical lingo or calculations that will be encountered in some instruction manuals. The calculation dynamics and computer software that perform simulations can give a better understanding of car design. The first thing to do is to come up with a design that portrays the visual of what one wants to achieve and be comfortable with it.

The knowledge about cars (for design and building purposes) can be grouped into four main categories. We get into detail as to what one may need to know from each of these categories depending on the type of vehicle one would want to build.

Vehicle dynamics and handling

This will include how the vehicle behaves when being driven. Race cars are often leaning, drifting, spinning and sliding during a race. These are all responses to forces acting on the body of a race car through as it is in motion. All vehicles display these features when pushed to their mechanical limits. By understanding the physics involved in vehicle handling, it is easy to see the behaviour of the car being worked on to optimise its full performance. The positions of the components of the vehicle determine how its overall weight is distributed while it is stationary. This Static Weight Distribution also affects the way it handles on the track. The wheels connecting the vehicle to the track are responsible for much-needed friction with the road surface and aides in turning, braking and the acceleration forces into the suspension and body frame.

Vehicle components design and build

This category includes the mechanical role of each part and how they connect and work with the other parts of the vehicle. These elements include the drive train, chassis, aerodynamic components, suspension, safety features and human design (ergonomics). The ultimate control of the vehicle belongs to the driver and needs enough information about the nature of the oncoming road surface and what is going on from side to side through a peripheral vision to drive with confidence.

Materials, fasteners, and joining

This category encompasses the materials (like sheet metal, carbon fibre) used when building a car, the way that these parts are connected, and the physical properties of these connections will largely contribute to the car’s performance.

Engineering, safety, and vehicle aerodynamics

There are obvious physics that affect the vehicles performance, safety and durability. Driver and passenger safety systems consist of many layers of protection that are designed and engineered to provide support and protection within and around the vehicle cockpit. These systems are made up of many different elements but all of them have the same goal, and that is to protect the occupants of the vehicle. Aerodynamics is the science of how air flows around and inside objects and in this case, the vehicle. More generally, it can be aptly called ‘Fluid Dynamics’ because air is a thin type of fluid.