Recreating Classic Cars with CAD: Tucker Torpedo Project Update

Welcome to part seven of a blog series covering how a group of car and engineering enthusiasts are bringing the Tucker Torpedo concept car to life. If you haven’t read the other Tucker Blog entries, you can get caught up here:

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4    Part 5    Part 6

In the last blog I reported on the work Bob Cuneo of Chassis Dynamics has completed on the Torpedo chassis. The majority of the structural fabrication was completed; the front and rear suspension components were assembled and installed as was the engine, transmission, and electronics. At this point, Bob turned his attention to the engine and getting it and the rest of the drivetrain operational.

In Blog # 2 the Porsche 964 was introduced as the “donor car” from which the Torpedo chassis was fabricated. Since the original Porsche drivetrain was retained that has an automatic transmission it will require the original wiring harness and electronics to be retained as well in order to function properly as seen below:

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Bob worked with a local Porsche mechanic, Mark Lianos, and hooked up the electronics and got them operational again without making any smoke :). This is not an easy thing to do because some components have dependencies on other components. For instance, if you take out the radio in a German luxury car you won’t be able to start the engine! Since the Torpedo isn’t using all of the Porsche, like the electronics instrument cluster, Bob and the mechanic needed to figure out how the wiring needed to be fabricated in order to get everything working properly. The Porsche engine is running and the transmission is working correctly. One thing Bob needed to keep in mind is the location of each of the electronic components. Each component needs to be mounted in places that won’t get in the way of other design elements like to interior which hasn’t even been designed yet.

After everything was working in the electronics arena, the next step was to re-make the wiring harness. The original wiring harness was cut up and cobbled together to get things working. It was not going to suffice for the Torpedo. A new proper wiring harness was needed. So, Bob set out to have a new harness built to replace the original one and the images you see here reflect the new and neat wiring harness.

Not only has the electronics been taking up Bob’s time he’s also been busy completing the chassis with its unique turntable the interior seats are mounted to. This is one of many unique features of the Torpedo. So, why does the Torpedo need a turntable for the seats? Well, if you look at these images you’ll notice the roof is very rounded. Couple that with the driver’s seat centered and not on the left side like the car you drive it’s going to be a bit clumsy to get into the driver’s seat. So, the best way to solve this ergonomic problem is to position the driver’s seat at the door opening. Thus, the reason for the turntable.

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Here’s the chassis and turntable frame modeled in SOLIDWORKS.

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Sean Tucker designed the triangular frame and the seat support frame you see in the image below. (Check the 2nd blog on this also) The seat support frame rotates inside the turntable frame and is driven by an electric motor with a right angle gear drive. Each seat support rotates driven with a chain drive. As the turntable rotates the seats will rotate a corresponding amount so the seat is in the correct position at the door opening. To make sure the seat support frame is doesn’t move while driving and to allow it to rotate when needed a linear solenoid is used to lock and unlock it. I’m sure Rob Ida and Sean will be using some cool electronics to control all of this.

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Speaking of Rob he’s been focused on the Tucker since the ’40 Merc has been completed. He’s still busy with it though as it keeps winning at more car shows. Here’s a nice video of the Merc at the Prestigious Amelia Island Concours earlier this spring. The Concours is where extremely rare and very expensive cars are on display. Please check it out.

Rob’s work on the Torpedo is still focused on the body. But he’s shifted his efforts to the body support structure. Since the body shell is .03” thick aluminum it’ll need a lot of support in all the right locations. I’ll be writing about how Rob is doing this and why in the next blog. Until then here’s a couple of teasers of Rob’s recent work.

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Mike Sabocheck
Senior Area Technical Manager, SOLIDWORKS, NA East