Whenever we ask the current issue’s cover car owner for their Concept Corner idea, we never know what we’re going to receive. Sometimes it’s predictable, other times it’s the total opposite. This was one of those ‘opposite’ times, and to understand why, if given the chance, Rob Pitcaithly would choose to build this insane Falcon XB coupe, you need to understand his fascination with all things mechanical.
“A concept is something I haven’t thought much about lately, as time and money are in short supply,” he tells us. “I’ve toyed with many ideas since I was a kid, wanting suspension and drum brakes on my pushbike. I put a Briggs & Stratton engine in a Loline bike when I was about 11 or 12, and was given a Morris by my aunt at 13, which my dad helped me turn into a beach buggy. I lived on the edge of the suburbs with six miles of beach scrubland to play on, and that’s what fuelled my interest in cars and motorbikes.
“I was doing right-hand drive conversions for Trevor Crowe about 20 years ago, and I took a shine to his mid-engined V8 Skoda idea. He did a lot of racing — even Bathurst — which made me think, How could I make the car I thought was the toughest and coolest around — an XB GT coupe — kick butt on the track?
“At around that time, I built my first mid-engined buggy by turning a VW gearbox around and putting a Datsun 1500 engine in front of it, then I built a four-wheel drive CBR1000-powered Odyssey. So I’m thinking, if I could build a car my way, I’d do a very serious XB coupe.
“I’d find the straightest car available, and take a mould from it. I would then remake the whole shell in carbon fibre, and make a lightweight moly space frame for strength. It would have a ZF-style transaxle, titanium progressive suspension with low-slung ride height, adjustable electronic dampers for drags, circuit, and rough roads, like Christchurch’s east side.
“In front of the box would be a 500ci billet Top Fuel engine, force fed with four turbos, and the interior would be similar to stock, apart from the seats and safety gear, and I’d increase the windscreen rake by five to 10 degrees. The transmission tunnel would remain, albeit hiding a powerful secret …
“The XB GT bonnets look cool, so I’d see no need to chop it up. Underneath, the huge front rubber would be suspended by similar control arms as the rear, but would also be driven by three-phase AC electric motors powered by the ‘secret’ — Lithium batteries in the transmission tunnel, all computer-controlled with a recovery system.
“I kinda like crude machines with too much power, but hybrid technology is where we’re going — you just have to look cool doing it! “The colour? Satin black and chrome, like The Terminator, or green like The Incredible Hulk, and totally street legal. The finishing touches would be super fat tyres front and rear, and exhaust pipes out the boot area like a Jetsprint boat.”
Now that’s a concept and a half — we’d like to see Rob hit the jackpot just to see something like this happen. Would it be able to get through the system for street legality? Dunno, but that doesn’t stop it from being one seriously crazy machine!
Justin from LVVTA says: “What you’re describing here might look like a Falcon, but it’s about as far away as you could get — and it definitely falls into the category of being a scratch-built vehicle. Your concept is along the lines of a stretched GT40-style space frame with some pretty severe steroids added to the engine bay, electric hub motors added inside the wheels, and a carbon-fibre Falcon coupe body. I have to say, this concept is more radical than any I’ve been asked to comment on so far — and it’s good stuff! To start off, I think that with some careful planning and execution, something along these lines could definitely be made road legal.
Chrome moly can be used for a space-frame chassis. It’ll be a custom one-off design, so it’ll need to go through the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) approval process, to ensure that the design and construction is suitable, and that it’ll stand the test of time. If the design is good, it’ll fly through the process; if it’s not, you’ll have the advantage of having a direct line to the vast expertise of the TAC, so you’ll end up with a superior finished product once you’ve gone through the process.
The approval process will also need to be applied to the front and rear custom-designed independent suspension, so these can all be bundled together and dealt with by the TAC at the same time — all for the one $95 fee. For details on this process, click on the ‘Design Approval’ tab at lvvta.org.nz.
One advantage of using a Falcon body (apart from the obvious good looks) for this concept is you’ll have a lot more room with the mid-mount configuration for things like the four turbochargers and the high-tech suspension. The 500-cube engine would need to be softened up somewhat to allow the use of pump gas, and would need to be able to run a cooling system. Other than that there’s no reason you can’t use an all-alloy racing engine in street trim, provided it can pass the exhaust-gas emissions test, which just ensures the correct air-fuel ratio is being achieved.
I’m not sure how much horsepower the ZF transaxles can hold, but a quad-turbo monster like you’re proposing might require an aftermarket unit that’s up to the task, or some upgrades to make sure it’ll all stay together when the jandal goes down.
The hub motors are an interesting idea here — as you say, hybrid technology is becoming more mainstream, but it’s rarely packaged in anything resembling ‘cool’. If you could make it all work well together, it’d make this thing one seriously fast, and cool-looking, car! LVVTA has some comprehensive requirements for modified or scratch-built electric and hybrid vehicles — check out the LVV ‘Electric & Hybrid Vehicles’ Standard at lvvta.org.nz.
If you do embark on this project, and we hope you do, make sure that you keep your Hobby Car Technical Manual close by, and keep in close contact with your LVV Certifier along the way. Good luck!”