My cabover affectations are no secret on this site — I love the incredible use of space cabover designs offer, and there's nothing quite like that floating magic carpet feeling you get when you drive something hoodless. But why should those joys be limited to vans? It's time for a cabover supercar.
I actually had this idea a while back, and sent these crude sketches to Wayne Burgess over at Jaguar and Jason Hill over at ArtCenter to get their opinions. Wayne's a great guy, but his boss Ian Callum essentially reminded me that Wayne's got much better things to work on, and Jason Hill, while enthusiastic, is a busy man.
Jason Hill said he'd get me some actual renderings when he gets a chance, but I've been waiting so long, I eventually just thought, screw it, let's post about the idea. If I get real renders, fantastic, if not, we'll live. Somehow.
As you can see in the sketches, what I'm imagining is a mid-engined supercar, much like almost every other supercar out there today, but with very different positioning of the driver and overall proportions. I actually like the upright seating position and massive visibility of driving something like a bus.
Every time I've driven something truly cabover, like an old VW Type II or a city Bus or the like, what I've always come away wanting is that same feeling, but with less bulk and more power. Cabover designs would lend themselves very well to mid-engine layouts, and could be effectively streamlined in a sort of old-school, Norman Bel Geddes/Dymaxion sort of way.
The only car that's really come anywhere close to this idea was probably the Renault Aventime — a radical one-box executive car that I and many of my colleagues love but the executive car-buying public largely avoided due to an innate fear of the weird. The design made a lot of sense — stylish, roomy, luxurious, distinctive — but people just didn't associate a minivan profile with that sort of status.
And I'm sure my cabover supercar would have the same issues — people don't usually think "Weinermobile" when they think supercar. But maybe they should. Handling could be fantastic, visibility would blow every other supercar out of the water, especially with the lower windshield offering a clear view of what's right in front of the car. Finally, a supercar capable of dealing with the occasional speed bump!
I know there's technical hurdles, especially in the crash safety department, but I believe those are able to be addressed. I've spoken with engineers who've suggested that a modern cabover design is, in fact, possible — the Smart car manages to be pretty safe and it's almost a cabover design as it is. Plus, in my crude design here, I made sure to include a nice hefty lower bumper/impact protrusion area.
I also drew a lot of glass area in the car. The trend now is for lower greenhouses with less glass, but I think if you've got a nice fast car, there's a lot of pleasure to be had watching the world whip by you all rapid and blurry, and there's a safety advantage as well.
There's other practical advantages to a cabover supercar, too. Like luggage space and flexibility. A cabover supercar could easily be a 2+2 or have the extra space behind the driver and passenger used for cargo. There'd certainly be much more space than in, say, an Aventador or something. For this design, I'm imagining a nice big luggage shelf inside and the volume over the rear wheel/transaxle used for the spare tire.
So, if there's any manufacturers looking for something genuinely new and distinctive, I say give the cabover supercar a shot. I'm not saying it'll be a great seller necessarily, but I'll sure as hell give it a fantastic review. Just make sure to invite me to the launch.