1 week ago in Project Cars
We were asked to attend the 40th anniversary party for Mini Mania as the master of ceremonies.
Here is the final production version of the car launched a few weeks ago. In general this car was much easier to design mechanically since I kept strut coil overs at all four corners and use the stock vw suspension geometry. In all honesty I think the 818 is the better track car and the smyth car is the better street car. The smyth car weighs in around 2500 lbs wet and has all the options and a really nice oem interior.
I like the tdi car the best but am building the vr6 turbo car for the sound and wow factor....ya gotta have the uber fast car ion the stable. re time in the kit business...it makes a difference that this is not my first rodeo. Have fun choosing, they will be great cars to build.
mark smith www.facebook.com/smythperformance
Nice to join us Mark. Lots of fans of your earlier work here. I am a fan of your current one.
Going to be fun. This time going a bit "not so race car" I really wanted to get a car out the door as a kit with most of the safety features and even the air bag of a street car with the light weight of a cobra.
I am getting soft in my daily commute...I actually like the air conditioning and interval wipers these days on cars I put miles on to and from work. The tdi with the torque is a ball to drive on the exit ramps with 200+ lbs feet from that little diesel. The new 17/22 turbo will get me over 300 lbs feet to the rear wheels and will keep my 60 mpg little hot rod away from the fuel pumps.
Finishing up the hard top as we speak. Glad to be back. I told a magazine guy that I would love a comparison story and will hope for hot weather and rain for the test:)
The Smyth is far easier on the eyes...but I agree with Mark's own words, the 818 is the better track car and the G3F is the better street car. And because I'd be looking for a track car I'd go with the 818.
Am I the only one that sees the Smyth car as the love child of a Lamborghini Gallardo and a Porsche Boxster? Not that it is a bad thing. In fact I like it. I like it a lot!!!
I would have to agree the 818 seems to be a much more track oriented / toy for the weekend where as the Smyth car seems to be one you could almost live with as a DD.
Both are great cars. Is it ok to want one of each?
I would take the Smyth car primarily for the drivetrain options. TDI and vr6 are both more rewarding in their own ways than the suby motor, which i do like a lot, for the record.
The more I see of the Smithy, the more I like it, but VAG drivetrain??? Shudder...
I was really excited when the FFR 818 project started but disappointed in the design they chose for the body. More disappointed with how long it has taken them to get to market and how little information and how hard to navigate their web page has been the last couple times I've been on it.
I've been following the Smyth build on FB since he started it and even considered a beta kit but I have enough projects and have never been too keen on VW products.
So I guess the answer is neither?
818, if only because I want nothing to do with anything that involves volkswagen stuff (personal bias from past experiences, which no amount of convincing will change my mind on)......
Well I already own a 2000 Jetta TDI Sedan :)
Turn the smyth into an endurance racer? Never have to stop for fuel? double or triple stint drivers = win?
I don't think it would be a bad track car unless its flimsy. You have an LSD available in the wavetrac, you have easy options for brake upgrades and coil overs from the existing platforms and a lot of interchangeability with the GTI/R32 etc I believe (even the Audi TT in some cases)
The TDI engine doesn't seem to suffer from as many horrible VAG issues.
Honestly, if i was sticking to a manual trans and ditching the rest of the car (as far as body related electronics), TDI and VR6 dont strike me as deficient mechanically. Everything that could be wrong with them you should have a perfect opportunity to fix while the build is in process.
Giant Purple Snorklewacker wrote:
Nice from the front. Heinous from the side.
Exactly. Emphasis on the 'anus'.
Vigo...spot on. After putting over 100,000 miles on various mk4 jettas/golfs for this project it became clear that the base cars are fabulous while things such as window regulators failing could make you sell the car if you were not handy enough to fix them yourself. Mechanically I have been impressed with both the tdi and the vr6 mills. I have a turbo on my vr6 golf that has over 30 k on the 350 HP turbo kit....amazingly tough engine with probably the best sound in a smaller displacement engine ever.
Re design I have heard it all over the past 20 years in the car business. Cars are compromises...sure the new vette has camaro tail lights...but is it a great deal ? Heck ya. Overall is the car what you want when you look for a did or track car...only you know the answer.
Kits are fun because you build the car yourself. Buying a miata is fun because you can get in and drive...building is way more fun to some of us and that is what I have spent most of my career providing. Build on if you have the skills...bolt a new set of shocks on your 911 if you don't...but I think it is appropriate to celebrate the many choices we have in the home built market these days.
For me a 185 HP 310 lbft 2500 lb smyth mid engine kit car that rips off a 5 sec 0-60 and gets 59 MPG combined is mycommuting nirvana...
I would like either honestly but a TDi powered Smyth seems like a the best all round choice. Also the VAG drivetrain doesn't scare me like the rest of the VW...
re development time on the 818 and the smyth car, I have found after all these years and five car designs under my belt(ffr roadster, coupe, coupe spyder and smyth g3f and smyth jetta pickup) that no matter how much money you throw at a design and no matter how badly you want it to launch on time, it always takes two or three years for a new design to evolve into something you can ship to a customer.
Around march of 2010 both the smyth mid engine car and the 818 were under development. In march of 2011 FFR had been on the project "for almost a year" and even though I still owned FFR it was clear that I was moving on to small VW based cars and deep into diesel performance. If you compare the two projects it has very little to do with budgets as both cars matured over the last few years into very different cars for very different customers but are ready at about the same time. Both the VW and Subaru tuning crowds are delighted to have platforms to use their skills in each make. Lets face it, after learning about and tuning your little econobox when you are young, what the heck can you do with all that skill when you grow up and can afford a cool build with your kid...why not stick to what you know right?
Jim Schenck (the current r&d head of ffr) and Dave Riha(who went on to head up r&d at local motors) were both hired straight out of college to work for me at FFR. Both guys are probably smarter than i am and I take pride in the fact that my ffr r&d group all those years ago developed such talent into some of the best all around car engineers in the world. Jim has the GTM, 33, and now the 818 under his belt, and Dave Riha and Mike pisani went over to local motors and designed the rally fighter and DARPA high speed evac vehicle. ...amazing when you look at the long list of ffr/smyth/Local motors machines that have been created by the same group of three or four guys that started out in that little ffr r&d group fifteen years ago.
The reason I mention these guys is that to create a new design always takes one person with a vision and the actual skills with design to make it happen. You can try to push projects all you want in management but the r&d guy who is designing every aspect of that new car will tell you how it is going...and alas it takes creative engineer types like us a few years to wrap up a new car. Our inside joke was that it takes 3 months to do a prototype chassis and three years to get the doors to fit:) That is the view from behind the closed doors of r&d...the folks out in front of the customers sometimes have never built a car themselves...so when you want the story of how something came to be, ask the folks in back with the dirt and callouses deeply set in their fingerprints.
Sorry for the long post but I figured you may be interested in how these cars come about and why things take time no matter what the size of your company. Nowadays it is even more of a level playing field as even a small operation like smyth performance with four people on the payroll has the exact same solidworks 3d software and laser scanning to design with as GM Ford and Ferrari. All these companies still need the human with the idea and technical skills to make a car...all we are talking about is how nice your office is.
Mark sorry if this is not known yet, but what is the kit price looking like for the smyth? And what do you need besides a jetta?
Answered my own question by going to your site
Guys who have built a kit or full hot rod etc I am selling the kit to for 7900.00 The goal being a good sema presence in the fall. All we need at this point are customer cars out there with the new body. The 8900 bucks is the launch special that i have been running for a few weeks.
The jetta truck will take all of our time here for the summer since it appears to be the volume product for us in july. at 3500 bucks and a weekend build i can see why. I am not selling my f450 truck but man am i going to put miles on this little pickup conversion. This time around I am done with the 80 hour work weeks from the old days...i respect the work ethic over at ffr but with five kids I am definitely getting to see more high school baseball/football/track events these days:)
Have I missed pictures of the Jetta pickup?
there were a few teasers a while back to test the concept.. a fun photochop was out last year but it is easier to just take pics in june/july when the kit is finalized...holding off for drama of course:) ...probably launch at waterfest or another big VW show.
The truck is really just a complex subframe over the rear seat area but under the bed for torsional rigidity, a pair of quarter panels made to fit the explorer sport trak rear lights and replace the whole side behind the door, a steel ranger gate, a fiber glass bed inner liner, and the rear window and panels that tie in to the roof of the jetta with a small quarter window. Bolt up no welding etc....you get the idea. I will show off the mule in june. Pretty easy project since even the rear end stays where it is.
here you go...replace the jetta tail lights with the cool sport trac parts, add a cooler mini side window to replace the curved one here...bingo...40 mpg tdi pickup with 500 lb payload cap. who would have predicted that after three long years of developing the mid engine car, that a front drive pickup would be the hottest seller.
2 weeks ago in News
The High Museum in Atlanta is featuring an exhibit of really cool concept cars.
2 weeks ago in Project Cars
We get our gauge cluster back from Nisonger.
Also get your instant access to the digital edition of Classic Motorsports Magazine!Learn More