December 5th, 2017 | by deltaautomotive
Well, it’s been a while but we’re still plugging ahead with the Ligero prototype build. I’ve been living the true entrepreneur’s dream / nightmare over the past few months. We’ve had issues with the workforce requiring us to change our team a couple of times to get the right people on the job to move forward. The result has been a few months where we haven’t made as much progress as we would have liked. That said, we have been edging forward with a few key jobs and also used the time to acquire a couple of key components including a 550 hp LS3 V8 and a low mileage Boxster S transmission.
The main work effort has been around the dash mounts, windscreen surround and the front firewall. There’s been a bunch of fiddly little jobs required to make sure that we have the exact heights and angles for the windscreen surround, the roof, and front clip to marry up nicely together.
The crew at Joe Bradley Fibreglass have been working their magic on moulds for the front firewall attachments such as the windscreen wiper motor and the dash components including the air conditioner box. The images below show the mould being made from the donor Boxster and then the finished product mounted on the Ligero with some components attached.
The Boxster steering has been successfully transplanted into the prototype. The rack itself fits neatly, with a few adjustments likely to be required to the column itself to shorten it slightly, as well as to the front of the chassis to allow better clearance for the column. It can be seen in the photo below that a chunk needed to be cut out of the metal tray in front of the firewall to fit the column. As the Ligero is significantly wider than the Boxster, a custom attachment will need to be fabricated for the tie rod ends, which on initial impression, shouldn’t be overly complicated to manufacture. In the interest of simplicity for reproduction of the car we’re aiming at having as few as possible custom parts for the car.
Here’s a few more perspective shots of the front of the car, with a previous photo included to see the slow but sure progress that’s been made.
We’ve also been thinking hard about the cut lines in the back of the car, with particular respect to allowing accessibility to the engine, transmission and exhaust for through-life serviceability of the car. Whilst it would look neat to minimise the cut lines in the back body work it would be completely impractical to need to pull the entire rear bodywork off the car to check the oil. With that in mind we started devising a plan to have a rear section of the car that hinges either forward or aft to allow access to the engine and transmission. The red tape in the images below shows the proposed new cut lines.
The plan will be for the section inside the red tape to be free to hinge upwards, or be removed completely, to allow access. Those who have been following the build will recall the previous large rear wing that mounted on the outside edges of the back of the car, pictured here:
We had identified a few issues with that particular design, and it had cosmetically divided audiences! Our primary concern was flex, given that it ends up being approximately 2.2m wide, which was probably going to require it to have another upright somewhere centrally that would further obscure rear vision. With the new plan to have an opening section in the rear deck of the car we needed to rethink the wing, and we came up with the ever so slightly less offensive variant seen in the following photos.
After going through a few different concepts for the power plant, we decided on an LS3 for this build. I’m excited to say that it will be significantly more powerful than the original Boxster option that I had planned, and we’ve managed to secure a cammed and mildly tuned LS3 putting out around 550 hp and over 700 nm torque. This donk should propel the car to the speeds that it looks like it should go!
Work is now ongoing with the remainder of the front firewall, and now that the dash has been mounted work can progress on the plug for the front clip to work towards generating the panels to skin the front of the beast.
Thanks for looking guys, we’ll keep you posted on progress really soon! Cheers, dan.
October 3rd, 2017 | by deltaautomotive
The term Supercar conjures up images of success, riches, and cars that have the looks of a rocket ship and deliver mind-numbing performance with top speeds in excess of 300kph, and 0-100kph times in the 3 second range or even less. Synonymous with the Supercar image are brands such as Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, and more recent entrants to the market including Pagani and Koenigsegg to name a few. The common threads amongst all these marques are extreme performance, stunning looks, and bank busting price tags! But what is it that actually motives the average buyer to purchase a Supercar?
The broad attributes that motivate a buyer to purchase a car in general are its utilitarian functions and its hedonistic appeal. The first motivation is for the purely functional aspects of the car, for example one may purchase a 7-seater car owing to having a large family, or a four wheel drive due to its ability to go off-road and reach good camping or surfing spots down dirt roads inaccessible to two wheel drive cars. When looking at Supercars their utilitarian functions are the ability to go 250kph plus, to corner at G-forces that make you feel like vomiting, and to pull up from light speed to a stand still in an inhumanely short distance. This is all fine and dandy if you have the racecar driver skill set to capitalise on these utilitarian functions and the appropriate track or Autobahn to wring the neck of your Supercar. So the average Supercar owner is a trained racecar driver that has ready access to a racetrack and speed limitless roads right? Wrong. The average buyer of a high-performance sports car is generally a university educated male, aged between 30-50yrs old, without kids, working in a professional role, and living in a capital city (RoyMorganResearch 2015). Naturally there will be exceptions to this rule, but it is safe to say that the trained racecar driver who can capitalise on the utilitarian functions of a Supercar are the minority of owners, and the majority of Supercars will never see a racetrack in anger, nor a speed reading above the 200kph mark. Most will be stuck doing 10kph in peak hour traffic in a large city whilst hipsters on fixed wheel bikes fly past them at twice the speed.
Supercars in their natural habitat (photo credit: www.ExoticSpotter.com)
So why do people buy Supercars? For hedonistic reasons – Because they are exclusive, they get attention, and they look very, very cool parked out the front of the local café.
It is known that cars are seen by many as status symbols (Baltas 2013; Steg 2005; Vriens 2000) with expensive sports and luxury cars associated with higher social status (Baltas 2013; Choo 2004). Further studies suggest that for certain cohorts of car buyers the symbolic and affective functions of a car outweigh the instrumental functions (Baltas 2013; Steg 2005). Several psychological theories explain the rationale behind the hedonistic appeal of luxury items such as Supercars. Firstly, Social Comparison Theory is at play, where people compare their possessions and strive to be better than others (Steg 2005), and secondly Self-Presentation Theory, in which people attempt to present themselves in a way congruent to their self-image (Steg 2005). A third social theory, Aspiration Theory, is the one that interests me and makes me feel that the Supercar market can be disrupted. Aspiration Theory, as the name suggests, explains the desire that many have to aspire to higher levels of social status, and when combined with Social Comparison Theory, creates a market for a car that has the hedonistic appeal of a Supercar, without the blistering utilitarian functions of true Supercars that push their prices into the hundreds of thousands. This would allow the aspiring car owner to be perceived as belonging to a higher social stratum by virtue of their car, without the expense of all the utilitarian capabilities of a Supercar, which as described above are seldom used anyway. I know what you’re all thinking – buy a replica Kit-Car. The problem with Kit Cars in this situation is that they’re trying to be something that they are not, and as soon as the cover is broken, all credibility is lost. For instance, Imagine the perfectly executed Lamborghini replica mounted on top of a stretched Volkswagen or Pontiac Fiero, they look fantastic sitting still out the front of the Coffee Club, however fail epically in the engine sound and performance departments when the owner gets in and kicks them over (if they start at all!). Once again all credibility goes out the window when you line up at the lights next to a Mitsubishi Lancer and get beaten in the drag race.
My theory is that a market exists for a car with the hedonistic appeals of a Supercar whilst keeping the build materials and process simple and cost effective, and utilising donor parts from high quality, readily available cars to minimise production costs of componentry. The car needs to be unique looking, hence not a replica, needs to sound like a high-performance car, and perform well enough so that average owner can scare themselves now and then and drag the average punter in their hotted up Japanese import from 0-60kph. The car needs to be expensive enough to maintain exclusivity without pushing the price of the build up into the Supercar range. This will be achieved by avoiding the temptation to overemploy technology in the build in areas that the average buyer is unlikely to utilise, or perceive the value of, and which creates what I term “performance redundancy”. I argue that the average Supercar owner would not be able to perceive the difference between the rigidity of a carbon chassis over a steel one, the difference in a car that accelerates from 0-100 in 3.5 seconds versus 5.5 seconds, a carbon body versus a fiberglass one, or carbon ceramic brakes over regular discs. I’m sure that some can, but for the average Supercar owner driving in city traffic these features that they have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for are completely redundant.
Enter my entrepreneurial venture Delta Automotive industries and their prototype under development the Ligero. The Delta Ligero design is a two-seater, mid-engine, rear wheel drive configuration, with a wide and low profile consistent with that of a modern day European Supercar. Through the use of steel and fibreglass for construction of the chassis and body, and a reliance on donor cars for key mechanical componentry, it is anticipated that the Delta Ligero will achieve the looks and aura of a Supercar, and the performance of a high-end sports car, whilst keeping the price significantly below that of a modern-day Supercar. Whilst this seems paradoxical for an entrepreneurial venture, it has been observed that higher technology and innovation can be negatively associated with startup success (Hyytinen 2015). Crucial also to the success of the Delta concept will be the application the Systems Engineering principle of whole of system optimisation, as opposed to optimising sub-systems or individual components (Faulconbridge 2014). Basically every component needs to be carefully tailored to match the other components in the car in both cost and performance to avoid expensive over engineering of one component or sub-system without the other subsystems to match. For example there’s no sense having a 1000hp engine in the car when the transmission is only rated to 500hp, you’ll simply shred the teeth off the thing. To utilise such an engine money would need to be invested in an appropriate transmission, not to mention uprated brakes, cooling systems, and the list goes on. Before you know it the build cost is such that the price tag has been driven into the Supercar range and out of Delta’s proposed market niche. To the niche market segment aspiring to, but not yet able to comfortably afford, Supercar ownership the Delta Ligero will meet customer need by providing a high perceived value product (Spinelli 2016).
Price versus Performance graph demonstrating region of Performance Redundancy
Cost effective steel space frame chassis of the Delta Ligero prototype
Fibreglass body panels for the Delta Ligero under design and being removed from the moulds
Progress shots of the Delta Ligero prototype under development with mock ups of air intakes and rear wing.
Do I think the Supercar market can be disrupted? Yes I do, and I’m willing to bet a few hundred thousand dollars in prototype development to test my theory. I’m certainly not looking to go head to head with the Lamborghinis and Ferraris of the world, and I appreciate that there is no competing with the heritage of such established marques, or some buyer’s perceived value of putting one of those badges in their garage. Delta’s goal is to provide a unique value proposition to the market for car buyers who aspire to the bottom end of the used contemporary Supercar market and are buying their cars more for their hedonistic properties rather than their utilitarian functions.
I’m certainly aware that pretty much every fledgling car company with similar aspirations has fallen in an expensive heap, however as an observation I feel that the common thread that lead to failure was the tendency to put too much expensive technology into the cars rather than focusing on what the buyer perceives as value. I’m very receptive to the potential that this venture might fail and if nothing else I will walk away with one very unique car and a whole lot of lessons learned, not to mention a lifetime of “I told you so” from my wife! Like they say however, if you’re going to fail you might as well fail big.
Anyone interested in learning more about the project or following the build can find a stack more details, photos and videos at Delta’s social media pages linked below:
Thanks for reading and wish me luck! Cheers, dan.
Baltas, G, Saridakis, C 2013, ‘An empirical investigation of the impact of behavioural and psychographic consumer characteristics on car preferences: An integrated model of car type choice’, Transportation Research Part A, vol. 54, pp. 92-110.
Choo, S, Mokhtarian, PL 2004, ‘What type of vehicle do people drive? The role of attitude and lifestyle in influencing vehicle type choice’, Transportation Research Part A, vol. 38, pp. 201-222.
Faulconbridge, I, Ryan, MJ 2014, Systems Engineering Practice, Argos Press, Canberra, Australia.
Hyytinen, A, Pajarinenb, M, Rouvinen, P 2015, ‘Does innovativeness reduce startup survival rates?’, Journal of Business Venturing, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 564-581.
RoyMorganResearch 2015, ‘High income households plan to spend almost $50,000 on the next new car—a third above the norm’, viewed 19 October 2016,<http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/6476-how-much-australians-plan-to-spend-on-next-new-car-june-2015-201509282307>.
Spinelli, S, Adams, R 2016, New venture creation: entrepreneurship for the 21st century, McGraw-Hill/Irwin, New York, NY.
Steg, L 2005, ‘Car use: lust and must. Instrumental, symbolic and affective motives for car use’, Transportation Research Part A, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 147-162.
Vriens, M, Holfstede, FT 2000, ‘Linking attributes, benefits, and consumer values’, Marketing Research, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 4-10.
September 30th, 2017 | by deltaautomotive
The latest developments on the Ligero prototype build have been work around the cockpit area. Will and the team at Joe Bradley Fibreglass have created a mould for the windscreen surround of the donor Boxster for use in the Ligero. The rationale behind this is to be able to use a Boxster windscreen rather than custom glass, with the added benefit of the Boxster windscreen having the rearview mirror attached, thus solving that problem as well. The mould and initial part came out fantastically.
Next step was to start positioning the windscreen surround to get the angles right for the driving position as well as the roofline. The wooden frame in the following photos can be seen to allow adjustment of the windscreen positioning. Once the right angle and height were achieved, the angles and dimensions for the supporting metalwork could be determined – which will be the next phase of the build and will then in turn dictate the roof structure.
In keeping with the theme of using as many donor parts from the Boxster as possible, the dash from the Porsche has also been transplanted. The goal here is to create a space frame for the Ligero with the exact mounting points found on the front firewall of the Boxster to allow the dash assembly to be relatively simply plugged in to it.
Other ongoing work has been the transplant of the Boxster steering rack. The length of the rack is significantly shorter in our application, however we’re hoping that a simple cutting and shortening of the column splines should work.
An updated video walk around of the prototype can be found at Delta’s Youtube channel.
I’m also excited to report that I’ve secured a power plant for the prototype. The initial plan was to use the Boxster drive chain for this prototype and then evolve the car to have more horsepower for the next build. Owing to the fact that we had initially built the engine bay to house an AMG 5.5L V8, it turned out to be too narrow to fit the Boxster flat 6. Rather than butcher the engine bay I decided to jump straight to the V8 evolution of the car for this initial build. The engine I’ve purchased is an LS3 from a worked HSV which is rated to around 550hp and well over 700nm torque! The plan is to mate it to a Boxster S transaxle through a custom adapter plate and clutch. I think that 550hp will well and truly get the car going as well as it looks like it should.
Thanks for following. Cheers, dan
July 22nd, 2017 | by deltaautomotive
The team have been working hard on transplanting the dash from the Boxster into the Ligero prototype. Those of you who have been following the build for a while will know that we were initially planning to use a Mercedes AMG mid clip grafted onto the space frame as a solution for the dash and windscreen. As much as that would have simplified the build, we couldn’t get a driving position that we were happy with due to lack of cabin space, and furthermore it wasn’t going to be reproducible for potential future cars. In the following photos it can be seen that clamps are holding the dash in place whilst it is adjusted to get the position just right for the driver, as well as for the windscreen angle, which will subsequently drive the roof build.
Once the dash and windscreen position has been determined it will be possible to finalise the plug for the front clip and then start the mould creation for the first front panels. The other thing that we need to consider is the style of headlights for the car. I’ve got a few ideas.
Work on the outrageous rear wing is also coming along, here’s the latest mock up. An off the shelf black aluminium wing can be seen positioned on the rear deck of the car, this is being used for styling cues and as a guide for mounting mechanisms for our wing. Of note, the black wing is about 160cm wide, giving some perspective as to just how wide the Ligero prototype is! The other two rectangular foam structures on the rear deck are the plugs for the rear snorkel air outlets.
Thanks for looking, dan.
June 21st, 2017 | by deltaautomotive
The crew at Joe Bradley Fibreglass have been hard at work filling in the missing pieces of the back end of the Ligero, and it’s beginning to look more and more like a car every week! The first matter of business were wheel arches, and after looking at options to fabricate them out of sheet aluminium it was decided that fibreglass was in fact the way to go, and they’ve come up a treat.
It’s a snug fit between the radiator hosing and the front of the wheel arches, but it all shoehorns in nicely.
Making the wheel arches mate up neatly with the removable rear clamshell has taken some finesse, but Will from JBF is more than equal to the task, creating intricate returns and brackets where required.
Also under construction has been the vents to channel air into the engine compartment, as well as wooden mock ups of a couple of nostril vents that we plan to have on either side of the rear deck of the car to let the hot air out.
The donor Boxster is currently being carefully dissected, with its vital organs being removed for transplant to breathe life into the Ligero. Whilst the Boxster will not provide the power that we want for the car, it is being used for simplicity at this point to get the prototype to the road testing phase. A separate project is underway for a 500hp engine option to be the evolution of the species, but for now we’re going to walk before we run…
Until next time. Dan.
February 1st, 2017 | by deltaautomotive
After a bit of time consolidating the build so far and planning the next stage, it’s all systems go on the rear bulkhead build and the completion of the rear space frame to support the rear body panels. The rear engine cover panel will be divided into two sections – a clear perspex section over the engine itself, and a hinged section at the rear to allow access to the transaxle, rear drivetrain components and exhaust. And who knows, there may even be room somewhere in there for a little bit of rear boot space!
True to form for a car of this nature, the rear vision out of the back window will be quite limited! We should be able to trim the existing bodywork to improve it somewhat.
The next job is to finish off the rear superstructure and to source and mount some radiators on the flanks of the rear to capitalise on the airflow from the huge side vents. Until next time…
January 10th, 2017 | by deltaautomotive
After the first lot of rear custom fibreglass body panels were successfully pulled out of the moulds, the crew at Joe Bradley Fibreglass carefully gave them a trim and a tidy, and cut out all of the areas that are going to be air intakes or mesh on the final car. Then it was time to test fit the panels onto the rolling chassis and get our first true impression of what the rear end of the Ligero will look like.
The cut out areas in the rear panel of the car will have mesh inserted into them to vent air out the back of the engine bay. The circular depressions are naturally going to have the triple tail lights in them, and the lower, outer vents will have the dual exhaust tips vertically stacked on each side. Below is a cardboard mockup of the badge work for the rear of the car with the black cardboard representing the mesh.
A small amount of remedial cutting and pasting of the side sills of the chassis was required for a perfect fit of the body.
Then finally the Ligero could be lowered from the stands to get a feel for its road stance. Naturally this will require a bit of fine tuning as the back end gets loaded up with the AMG 5.5L V8 and Porsche 996 transaxle. Another factor that we have considered is that the custom Bilstein shocks are designed for a Corvette C5, which is a front-engined car, so it will be interesting to see how they perform in the setting of a mid-engined configuration. Only time will tell.
The final component to test fit on the rear was the wing, which is currently still in its body plug stage. Here’s a sneak preview of how it is going to look, complete with one of the early edition of Delta badges!
And finally a walk around and description of the build to date with the prototype Ligero back at Trickey Performance Engineering. It’s back to Andrew now to work his magic again and continue to build.
Until next time, cheers, dan.
November 30th, 2016 | by deltaautomotive
The 5.5L AMG power plant is going to need plenty of juice to keep it from going thirsty! Having stage one of the chassis completed allowed us to have twin fuel tanks fabricated to fit one on either side of the engine bay. The work that the contractor did on their construction was nothing short of art. They will fit snug and low in the chassis to keep the centre of gravity way down near mother earth, and will be connected via a pipe running through the engine bay. At 45 Litres a piece, they will be capable of holding plenty of fuel to keep the big V8 happy!