Young Kiwi Uses SOLIDWORKS to Design Home-Built Rally Car that Goes Zero-125 MPH in Seven Seconds

Alex Kelsey, a 22-year-old gearhead, lives in a small town on the North Island of New Zealand. His father, Richard Kelsey, was a successful rally car driver in his youth and shared his passion for going fast in cars with his young son. At the age of 12, Alex helped his father build a Mazda RX7 rally car in the family’s large (holds 15 cars) barn and was himself an accomplished co-driver by the age of 14.

After building several cars himself, he began a quest for a more exciting driving experience and decided to build his own World Rally Championship (WRC) rally car from the ground up. Three years later, the MC2, short for MadCreation2, is blazing around rally stages in New Zealand and getting a lot of attention among rally enthusiasts.

How it all started

“What I was racing was boring and the noise wasn’t there,” says Alex. “I needed something that looked awesome, sounded awesome and was easy to work on so I set about finding the right engine and putting the whole car together.”

To help him on his quest, his parents bought him a copy of SOLIDWORKS software for his 18th birthday. He used Google to find the other pieces and parts he would need to assemble his rally car and actually built several of the car’s significant parts himself, including the chassis, suspensions, shock absorbers and the power steering rack.


He started with a Peugeot 217 rallycross body, which he proceed to chop up and modify and then made his own custom moulds. “The reason we went for a Peugeot body was that it was the only one wide enough to accommodate the mid-mounted engine and transmission tunnel and still allow two normal-sized seats on either side,” says Alex.

Because there is so little left of the original Peugeot, apart from the overall external shape, the car is registered as a Kelsey MC2, not a Peugeot, and it appears in competition entry lists as a Kelsey MC2. “The only original panel is the roof,” says Alex. “Everything else has been reshaped or modified to work around the internal components.”

Alex used SOLIDWORKS software to design the MC2’s chassis, a 4130 Chrome-molybdenum tubular spaceframe. “We put the engine and gearbox models into the CAD frame and adjusted the positioning in the software,” says Alex. “The whole chassis weighs about 140 kg.”

A piece of bridge steel, recovered when a local road bridge was dismantled, was used as the surface plate to build up the chassis. The tubing was laser cut and Alex welded it in place on the surface plate. The resulting chassis is true corner to corner, plus or minus about a millimeter.

Alex then used SOLIDWORKS Simulation to perform an FEA analysis of the components, and a program called Susprog3D to design the suspension, which is double wishbone front and back. Prior to this project, Alex had no formal training or education in engineering or design, but had learned a lot through the multiple projects on which he had worked with his father.


What’s under the hood?

The engine is a naturally aspirated Renault World Series 3.5 L V6. “The engine’s producing around 450 to 460 brake horsepower (BHP). It’s a lot of horsepower for a rally car, but because it’s a high-revving racing engine, the torque goes right down,” says Alex.

The engine is mid-mounted with a French Sadev 6-speed sequential gearbox in front of it.  “For me the best part of this project is the engine. When the going got tough, I just went onto YouTube and listened to the engine to get my motivation back,” says Alex. “It’s also very important to configure things in a way that you’re comfortable with, rather than follow any particular trend.”

Buckle up and check out this YouTube video of the Kelsey MC2 in action on a closed rally stage in the Coromandel Peninsula.

Barb Schmitz

Barb Schmitz

Senior Marketing Communications Manager at SolidWorks
Barb Schmitz is a Senior Manager in Marketing Communications with BA in Journalism and over 30 years of experience in the CAD software industry. She started her career as a journalist covering technology and served as an editor for several leading industry publications for over 20 years. Besides being a sleuth of tech, she is a loyal dog owner, travel bum, mom, lover of hoppy IPAs, red wine, and alternative music lover living in the great city of Chicago.