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Re: unhappy customer

On Mon, Apr 05, 2004 at 09:46:58AM -0400, Lennart Sorensen wrote:
> On Sun, Apr 04, 2004 at 12:03:00PM -0400, David Brown wrote:
> > essentially he wanted to:
> > put safety glass in the windsheild (which the big 3 automakers didnt 
> > want to do because of cost)
> Seems to be the same excuse for still making the insane combined
> turnsignal/brake that the big 3 still do on many models.

Not only crazy, but more complicated to make than a separate turn
signal. Never seen on this side of the pond!

> > add a seatbelt restraint system (which the big 3 said would advertise 
> > the fact that cars were unsafe)
> > create a headlamp system that would turn in the direction that you were 
> > turning for improved vision ( a feature unused but comming out now in 
> > some 2005/2006 autos)
> Citroen has done that on some models in the last 20 or 30 years.

The DS. I think someone else did it as well but I can't remember who -
it might possibly have been Jowett, but probably not.

> > and put the engine in the back of the vehicle for better 
> > traction/handling (porsche/mazda/Lamborghini have all used that rear 
> > engine model in their sportscars)
> As have Saab, Fiat, Skoda, Original VW Bug, The original Mini, etc, etc.
> For that matter, some of the very first "cars" ever made had the engine
> in the back (although I doubt traction was what they had in mind, as
> much as put the engine close to the driving wheels for simplicity.)

Huh? AFAIK _all_ Saabs have been front engine/front wheel drive. The
original Mini certainly never had a rear engine! - that was front
engine, front wheel drive too. 

As for better handling from a rear engine - Don't Think So! Fiat and
Skoda did it for manufacturing simplicity - the same reason that front
engine/front wheel drive is now nearly universal - in both cases you 
have engine, transmission and associated bits all in one lump that
the bodyshell can simply be dropped over, as opposed to having
separate bits strung along the length of the whole car.

The reason that the original "single lump" concept was a rear
engine/rear wheel drive unit is that the rear wheels don't steer, so
you don't have the difficult problem of making a constant-velocity
joint that can bend through large angles. The reason that problem was
thought to be worth solving is that when the engine is hung out behind
the rear axle the handling sucks. The original Porsche 911 models,
which is essentially a VW bug with more wellie, were notorious for
disappearing backwards into the scenery on corners: you had to keep
them under hard acceleration while cornering, in order to take
advantage of the rearward "weight transfer" to keep the rear wheels
on the road; if you "coasted" round the corner, or even worse let off
the throttle or braked part way round, it was a recipe for disaster.
The fact that the modern models are less prone to doing this is
basically a triumph of tyre and suspension technology over what is
intrinsically a pretty crap design.


Be kind to pigeons
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