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The British had their “Mini”, the French their Citroen 2CV, and, most famous of all, the Germans had their original Volkswagen (peoples car)

The Chinese people deserve a vehicle designed especially for them, so here is an idea of how it could be.

A Chinese “Peoples Car” needs to have unique design features (as the other cars quoted have) – qualities within the design image that identify with the Chinese psyche… therefore, the car looks strong and it is strong; it is reliable and is specifically designed to protect its occupants: it is precise in steering and handling and logical in the design details.

The turbo 600 cc engine and gearbox unit is mounted centrally in the space beneath the front seats and partially behind them.

This configuration is possible because of the relatively high seating position and the small size of the power unit.

This layout gives 2 main advantages: perfect weight distribution giving superior handling, and a very strong cross-bridging structure between the “B” posts – this provides immense strength and passenger protection from side impact.

Inside the body, above the driver and passenger there is fitted a strong roll-over bar to protect from roof crush… Another advantage of the central power unit is that the car will have a full depth boot and has extra storage space at the front as well.

There is a wrap-around windscreen giving good visibility and aerodynamics; this is possible to make at low cost in volume by carefully designing the glass to be a single curvature.

In front all the lighting and the illuminated licence plate is logically incorporated into a single unit, a “light-bar”, mounted out of the front impact area; the single arm wiper is hidden behind this unit and to some extent the “light-bar” will act as a fly deflector when the vehicle is moving at speed, keeping the screen clear.

The seats are designed to be stylish but slim, to give maximum internal space, and the rear seats will fold to give a flat load space… they can also be removed as a unit and carried in the folded mode on the roof, securely held by 4 built-in clips.

The engine drives the front wheels by a short shaft to the transfer box for the basic model, but it should be possible to design the unit to provide rear wheel drive giving an all wheel drive option… at the rear there is an all glass tailgate, bonded to a black plastic frame which has the hinges moulded in, with licence plate and badge mounted inside, behind the glass.. because of the short length (3400 cm) and the mid.mounted engine, giving unimpeded front wheel turning space, the car will be good to park.

The top specification model, the Super Turbo version, is clearly identified by the roof mounted spoiler (as shown).. this version may also have the engine capacity up-rated. Obviously, this car would be extensively modified by enthusiasts for racing and rallying as the original Mini was, and would quickly gain a cult following.

Note: engineering design must keep to the principle of simplicity and access – this means that all components are designed from the start to be easily and simply replaced or accessed --- virtually all modern cars are not, and modern complex electronics do not help the situation; this principle should be seen for what it represents: a great point of customer and garage satisfaction, and consequently a repeat sales inducement.



PERSONAL COMMENT.

As a young man I worked at the Longbridge factory next to the office of Alex Issigonis, engineering genius and designer of the original Mini.

I spoke to him often and I regarded his work highly -- a little known fact is that his replacement for the Mini was ready to go:- up to 6 cylinders or more, and even smaller than the existing production engine, it performed very well (I sat in the test prototype)

In the Longbridge development shop was another great car ready for production; the existing 1800 “Landcrab” as it was known in Australia, was clothed in a beautiful new concept body by PininFarina – it was very advanced and much better than the Citroen CX which came later.

Imagine my horror when I called into the workshop one day to find disconsolate workmen engaged in cutting this beautiful car in half,.. (it later disappeared)

Orders had come down from the godlike new Lewland Motors board of directors—the reason was because Leyland had just taken over the then sick B.M.C. it was considered by the new owners that the potential market success of concepts promoted by the previous management would be a political embarrassment to them -- so they just disappeared: end of story…

I never forgave Sir Donald Stokes and his fellow board members for their hubris, or the continuing mistakes by managements and governments which ruined this once great company.


(next: - a Chinese MG or Triumph sports car ?.....)
 

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