Welcome to my latest project, the Spartan V8 prototype roadster.

Take a look around, and feel free to leave a comment!

What is it?
The Spartan V8 is a type of high performance car called an "exoskeleton" car, exoskeleton referring to the framework of the car which is both visible and aesthetic by design. It is being designed entirely from scratch, by me alone (constructed and tested entirely in SolidWorks). I'm about a year into the design; from initial idea, to working concept, to full 3d virtual model. Once I have the remainder of the crucial components (engine, transmission, suspension, etc) modeled accurately in 3D, I'll be able to finalize the design and begin construction.

What would it be like to drive?
Something like this.
The metallic click of a switch engages the ignition and fuel pump with a hum. You engage the clutch and push the starter button.. the V8 engine thrashes and bursts to life with a snarl, sending shivers through the frame, and straight up your spine. The shifter in your right hand snicks into gear, and you ease out the clutch and apply the throttle.. by the time you fully release the clutch, its already time to shift into second. As you shift to 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th, the sheer acceleration nails you to your seat, the exhaust roars to either side of you, the intake growls in front of you, the big 305 series tires shriek in protest as they claw at the pavement, the wind whips past your head and body, and you are catapulted to speed more rapidly than you thought possible.
A stab at the brakes invites the race compound pads to bite into four oversized vented rotors, rapidly bringing you to a screeching halt.. brutally throwing you forward against the belts of your 5 point harness, threatening to eject you from the cockpit as you slow back to a stop. Your pulse is racing, your breathing is quickened, and the back of your neck is tingling. Savage and raw, the Spartan V8 isn't just quick. It is downright terrifying.

More akin to riding something wild, overpowered, and foaming at the mouth than just driving a car. It roars, it screams, it snarls. It thrums with power lurking just under its thin skin, daring you to mash that accelerator to the floor, and chase down something exotic..

Why design and build your own car?
Why not? It will be fun to design, build, and drive. It will be a learning experience like no other. Also, because of it's tremendous power to weight ratio, the Spartan will be a veritable supercar - more than able to hold its own on the road or racetrack against other street cars costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Check back whenever you like, as I'll be adding updates frequently.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dead Pedal Design Finished

Rounding out the Spartan pedal box will be this dead pedal on the far left.  More than just a place to rest your left foot when you aren't shifting, it also functions as a place to brace your foot against during hard cornering.  This pedal is also made from lightweight 6061 aluminum, and uses the same design cues as the throttle pedal.  Although ridiculously lightweight, it is also extremely strong, designed to withstand typical body weight loading at several Gs without flinching.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Thottle Pedal Design Finished

Been working on the pedal box for quite some time now, trying to get things just right.  Recently finished a custom throttle pedal designed exclusively for the Spartan.  This pedal will line up perfectly with the Wilwood brake and clutch pedals, and it weighs a mere 1.75 lbs.

Design parameters include required cable travel, desired foot movement/travel, weight, aesthetics, and integration with the existing brake and clutch pedals.  Utilizes a low friction graphite bronze bearing, a stainless dual throttle return spring, adjustable travel stops, a 6061-T6 aluminum frame, a standard Lokar braided stainless throttle cable, and stainless hardware.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Build Table

Well, after a bit of a recess, the Spartan project has been successfully restarted.
A build table is being constructed to build the frame on, which will have interchangeable welding jig plates.  This will allow the frame to be built to exacting standards and ensure that the frame will end up straight and true. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011


These are the QA1 coilover shocks that will be used on all four corners of the Spartan.  The shocks themselves are surprisingly lightweight and made almost entirely of aluminum.  The lower spring perch is adjustable, allowing some ride height adjustment as well as corner weighting.  These particular coilovers also feature adjustable compression/rebound, with 12 settings at the twist of a dial.  All together, this will allow the driver to completely tailor the car to his or her liking, with every aspect of the suspension adjustable.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Continued Frame Modifications, Rear Suspension Work

Still working on getting maximum strength, stiffness, and appeal out of the frame.  A partial redesign on the front end substantially increased torsional rigidity, while a few extra tubes were required in the rear to allow an alternative rear coilover mount setup.  (Seats are temporary placeholder models)

Enjoy, its coming along...  Frame construction will be next.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Frame Modifications

Continuing work on the Spartan V8 frame.  Working on increasing engine clearance in the front while maintaining or increasing torsional rigidity, simplifying the frame and eliminating redundant tubes, adding front A-arm and coilover pickups, and reviewing and reinforcing rear differential unit mounts.  Also working on better models for the coilover shocks - need to be able to carefully check clearances around them.  Should be ordering the actual coilovers this week, and once they arrive I can double check the final models as well.  Then the coilover pickups can be finalized.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Brake and Clutch Pedals

The original plan was to use the pedal setup from one of the donor cars, a 98-02 Camaro, but it became clear that this was not going to be the best option.  The factory pedals are a flimsy stamped steel affair, with a goofy bracket designed to mount to the Camaro's oddly shaped floor/firewall.  The pedals are also cramped together quite tightly, with the gas pedal hinging on an axis that is not in line with the brake and clutch hinges - it is actually made to swing in closer to the brake pedal as it is depressed, presumably to clear the transmission tunnel.

In place of the factory pedals, I will be using Wilwood style pedals.  To keep things clean and tight, and considering the low seat hight, I've opted to use floor mounted pedal assemblies.  I say "Wilwood style" because there are quite a few pedal manufacturers out there that are all making a similar product - Wilwood, Tilton, CNC/Neal, etc.  I chose to use another manufacturer, Southwest Speed, and I'm pleased thus far with my choice.  The brackets and pedals are cast aluminum and the pivots are hollow steel pins, so they are extremely lightweight.  The separate pedals allow me to space them however I like, and because of the aluminum construction there are a minimum of things to oxidize out in the weather.

Still working on that gas pedal, but leaning towards the flat aluminum kind that hinge from the bottom, popular in street rods and dune buggies.  The three pedal assemblies will then bolt to a common plate, which will bolt to a slide assembly.  This slide will allow for compensating between drivers of differing height, without having to have a movable seat.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

LS1 Engine Mount

Starting to finalize the various brackets for the engine, transmission, suspension, etc.  These components will be plasma cut and TIG welded by Matt at Fatty's Chassis, a local speed shop.  Once the remainder of the major components are modeled and have matching brackets modeled, it will be time to start the chassis...

Just a word on Fatty's Chassis, Matt is a guy with a lot of old school hot rod knowledge and experience.  He sells just about anything you might need or want thru his website, but he also does some of the nicest custom fabrication work I've ever seen.  He insists on TIG welding everything.  He runs his own shop, complete with CNC plasma jet machine, so he can make just about anything.  Click on the link below to check out his site or send him a message if you need something in steel/aluminum/stainless fabricated - I know he's the only person who's going to be welding on the Spartan V8.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


The exhaust system has been a debate for some time.  Being a longitudinal V8, I have exhaust manifolds on both sides of the engine bay.  On most cars with a similar driveline, these manifolds exit into tubes that follow the transmission into the trans tunnel, and run underneath the driveshaft until they reach the rear of the car.  Here, they go up and over, or even under, the rear axle, into a muffler, and finally the exhaust exits out the tailpipe.  Well, this poses a problem.  The tunnel is tight around the transmission to increase interior room and especially leg room, too tight for exhaust pipes to run next to the transmission.  Under the transmission, or under the car at all might work, except that the current ground clearance is set at 5" - running 2.5" pipes would reduce the clearance to less than 2.5", unacceptable for a street car.  The underside of the car is a perfectly flat undertray, with no place to tuck the exhaust pipes into, without intruding into the passenger compartment.

What then, if the pipes cannot be routed under the car?  Sidepipes are a great option, but have some drawbacks as those familiar with them can attest to, usually referring to the burn scars on their legs.  Heat shields help, but the pipes are still literally running right next to your legs and body as you drive, and are going to be at least somewhat hot.  I was actually thinking about a sport bike when I modeled this muffler/rear fender idea, and mind you it is a bit rough, but gets the point across.  Again, picture a sport bike where the exhaust exits out over the center of the rear tire.

The other thought was to simply shorten the sidepipes - a lot.  For this to work, the round canister muffler would be moved close to the engine, just behind the front wheels.  The muffler would end just before the front corner of the passenger compartment, ending with a rectangular angled tip.

T56 transmission

Well, long story short, the transmission I bought was out of a wrecked car, and turned out to have some serious issues with bent and broken internal parts.  The seller had been open and honest about the transmission thus far, and had even gone so far as to give a written guarantee that it was in great shape for the mileage, and unfortunately I had to take him up on it after hearing back from the trans shop.  I thank him for being a good and honest seller, not everyone would have held up their end of the bargain.  (Thank you Jake)  At this point the trans is back from the shop, rebuilt back to stock specs, and I'll be continuing to measure it and update the 3d model so that the transmission tunnel of the frame can be adjusted.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

T56 Transmission

I recently picked up the six speed transmission for the Spartan, which means I can now get a much more accurate model of the transmission into the 3d assembly model of the car.  Once that model is finished, I can mate it to the engine model in the main assembly.  This will allow me to refine the dimensions of the tubes that make up the transmission tunnel in the frame - too much room in the tunnel, and I lose valuable interior space; too little room in the tunnel, and of course the transmission doesn't fit.

I'm still in the process of getting it cleaned up, but will get some pictures up soon.  It also needs to go to the transmission shop for a quick going over to make sure its ready to go.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Coil Brackets

The factory truck spark plug coil mounting brackets and the LS1 intake interfere with each other - the fuel inlet wants to be in the same place that a coil does, so I've made some brackets that slide the coils down and away from the intake.  These use the same factory mounting points as well.  I will be having them cut out of T6 aluminum and test fitted sometime this week.

Test fitted the new bracket on the valve cover, and everything fits perfect - except one hole being a bit off.  Also trial fitted the coils to the bracket and everything fit and cleared perfectly.  I fixed the hole that was off and also added holes for the coil wiring clips, now I'm ready to have two new brackets jetted and installed...  These brackets are also much sturdier and weigh marginally less than the factory brackets.

Two new brackets are made and test fitted successfully, next will be transferring the coils over and fastening them to the brackets, then mounting them back on the motor.

Drivers side coils were mounted to the coil bracket, and installed on the motor.  Looks great, is lightweight, and allows the fuel line to clear the coils with no modifications.  Couldn't be more pleased with the design.  I've had some requests already from folks wanting these coil brackets - you can email me at sbcrx007@yahoo.com or leave a message here if you're interested.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Warning - experimental

Added the logo from an earlier emblem design to the front of the engine cover, as well as "experimental" to the sides.  These would be likely decals cut from heavy gauge vinyl, stuck onto the aluminum or CF "hood".  It strikes me as a little in your face, but I like it.  We'll see what makes it to final production of the prototype.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wiring, continued..

Customizing the wiring harness took a while longer than anticipated, but I am very pleased with how it has turned out thus far.  Every single whire in the harness has been shortened or lengthened for my application.  My harness looks a bit different than other custom harnesses you may have seen, this is due to the intake being turned around 180 degrees, which moves the MAF, IAC, and TPS connectors to the back of the motor.  Since this was originally a drive by wire motor, the TPS and IAC wiring had to be added.

At this point, it's ready to be taped up the rest of the way and test fitted one last time, then can be loomed up to look nice.  Of course, the wires all still need to be repinned into the blue and green pcm connectors as well.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Electric Version?

I got it in my head a few weeks ago that an electric hybrid version would be fun as well.  Read an article on the e-car that Audi is designing, and was drawn to the amazing torque that is available with electric motors.  That, and the lack of a need for a gearbox, given the electric motor's available rpm range.  Of course, there comes a cost - what drives these high power electric motors?  Batteries?  No thanks.  The obvious solution would be a drivetrain something similar to the Toyota Prius or Honda Insight - small gasoline motor turns a generator, which in turn powers the electric motor, maybe with a small battery thrown in for good measure. 

A 250 ft-lb motor at each wheel, good from 0-10,000 rpm?  They could be geared as well, at 1:4 or higher...  1000 ft-lbs on tap, at all 4 wheels, there's an interesting thought...  And that's evidently just what Audi plans to do.

It isn't in the works and probably won't be for a good while, let alone the budget, but food for thought nonetheless.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Modeling a Human Driver - Andekan "Andy" model

Some of you may recall my previous and rather crude human models for calculating cockpit ergonomics.  They were simplistic, looked like 1960's era robots, and looked awful in the Spartan car model.  A friend (thanks Tom!) pointed me towards these folks:

These guys have created a good looking, fully positionable model of a 5" 9" tall man for modeling and scaling purposes.  With any luck, I'll be able to convert their model to SolidWorks format and import him right into the Spartan V8 model!  I think "Andy" will be quite happy behind the wheel, while lending an excellent sense of scale and proportion, and allowing me to ensure that the car's ergonomics are the best they can be.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wire Bundling

Still working on the custom wiring harness, but have just about all the wires incorporated in.  Added the 5 wire MAF with a rubber coupling, it seems to all fit together nicely.  Since the intake manifold is rotated 180 degrees, the MAF will face the cockpit, and in fact there will be another rubber coupling to the filter, which will actually sit inside the cockpit, under the dash in between the driver and passenger.  Should make for a rather vocal engine, with sidepipe exhausts roaring and intake reasonance whining.  All together it should make it a very raw and visceral experience.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chassis Wiring

Parts are ordered to begin building a fuse block and relay assembly that will support the PCM and supply power to the various electrical loads.  Fortunately, on a vehicle such as this, not many circuits are required.  Lights, horn, cooling fan, fuel pump... and that is about it.

I'm building my own system based on Brendan's fuse block/relay assembly found here

The reason for building my own is mostly to eliminate extra circuits and complication, as the factory fuseblock is large and has too many circuits.  By building it myself, if there is ever a problem, I'll know exactly where and what to look for to troubleshoot.

Lots of credit goes to Brendan's website, http://www.lt1swap.com

Friday, November 27, 2009

Engine Wiring

The engine wiring is going well thus far, but I still need a few connectors to be able to complete it.  The engine looks considerably different with the intake flipped 180*, you can see the MAP sensor hanging out of the front of the intake now.  As I add more wiring, I'm taping the wires into bundles, which will then get taped up and loomed.  So far, most of the wiring is near invisible, which is in stark contrast to the unsightly truck engine harness spaghetti that used to sit right on top of the intake.  As can be seen in the last picture, there is a bit left to tidy up.
Much credit goes to "Pocket" and his wire harness writeup here http://www.thirdgen.org/techboard/ltx-lsx/544768-ls1-harness-start-finish.html

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fuel Injector Plugs

Since I'm running an LS1 intake, fuel rails, and injectors, my truck engine wiring harness injector connectors will not fit the LS1 injectors.  The fix for this is to either use adaptors, or cut the truck connectors off and splice in LS1 connectors - obviously I've opted for the splicing.  Making the splices is easy, but as these connections will be out under the hood and exposed to the weather, I'm trying to take special care that they are well sealed.  I twist the wires together, inline, and then solder them.  After that I add a fair amount of silicone in the joined area, then slide the heat shrink tubing over the silicone and soldered joint.  Heat the tubing to shrink it, and wipe up the excess silicone that gets squeezed out.  It is my hope that this will ensure a good, lasting electrical connection.  Note that I've used diagrams from AllData to ensure that I connected the wires correctly to each injector plug.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Truck Engine Harness

Received my engine harness and have begun to label all the connections.  This is the truck harness, which will be modified to work with the mixture of car and truck components on the Spartan's engine.  Alternatively, I may still switch to an actual LS1 harness, which would involve slightly fewer modifications.  Either way, there's a fair amount to be untangled..

I've made the leap to just redoing my current truck harness, repositioning the connectors and wires to suit the positioning of my engine and computer.  I depinned the PCM connectors and labeled each wire's position.  Next is stripping down the entire harness down to individual wires.  The connectors are all already labeled, so at that point I'll be able to remove the portions of the harness that I won't be using.

Each connector was separated out of the harness and coiled up.  Next I'll be eliminating any of the wiring that I can.  The pile in the upper left corner has already been eliminated.  I won't be needing any of the drive by wire, automatic transmission, four wheel drive, or air conditioning wiring.