All New British Sports car makes production debut
Zolfe Orange, the latest all new British sports car, made its production debut at Autosports 2008. Combining stunning good looks with lightweight design, the Zolfe is set to challenge more established competitors in this market sector. The front engined rear wheel drive car will provide vice free handling and astonishing performance.
Assembling the Dream Team
Sparlonz Plasticz is a tier one supplier to the Automotive Industry who specialise in the niche vehicle sector. It was Sparlonz personnel who originally created the Zolfe Orange in order to showcase the company's capabilities following their successful completion of the first three electric vans for LTI. These vehicles later evolved to become the Modec Electric Vehicles. www.sparlonz.com
Stadco are a tier one supplier to the high volume car industry with customers that include Land Rover, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Ford. Stadco have engineered and set-up North American production of the Ford GT, the recent re-incarnation of the multiple Le Mans winning icon, the Ford GT40. The GT's aluminium space frame is testimony to Stadco's wide ranging capability in vehicle structure design.
Zolfe has taken full advantage of Stadco's extensive whole vehicle development experience to engineer several critical aspects of the Orange. The original design has been benchmarked against competitor vehicles including the Audi TT and Porsche Boxster, to ensure the production version can accommodate a 95 percentile male complete with racing helmet. The seating position ergonomics and relationships with steering wheel, gearstick etc. conforms to strict EEC standards and all legal requirements in terms of vision angles.
Before any surfacing work could be carried out, Stadco had to create a 'Hard Point' model of all the vehicle aggregates such as spaceframe, engine and transmission, ergonomic package, wheel envelopes and approach angles, and legal requirements including front and rear lamps. This was created in the digital environment using Catia V5. This DMU (digital mock-up) helped Stadco define the vehicle architecture and layout and provided Zolfe with a robust vehicle package. The result of these studies also proved the need to increase the length by 125mm and the width by 100mm over the original vehicle.
The need to build a bigger car presented Stadco's aesthetic design team with the challenge of increasing the dimensions of the car without losing the style of the original.
The results are stunning: Not only have all the technical and legal requirements been met but the look of the re-engineered body has been significantly enhanced. New features have been introduced to improve packaging, aerodynamics and cooling performance. First of these is a bonnet bulge to increase clearance to the engine and add an additional aggressive element to the styling. Radiator outlet nostrils have also been added to the bonnet to ensure bullet proof cooling performance under the most arduous race track conditions. The front grilles are now stronger, tighter and more purposeful. Management of the air flow through the radiator grille increases aerodynamic downforce on the front axle and reduces engine bay temperatures to improve engine power output. Wheel arches have been tailored to ensure the wheels fill them, giving the revised Zolfe Orange a very purposeful stance.
All the body surfaces are completely new and have been painstakingly developed to the automotive industry's 'A' class surfacing standard using the latest computer aided surface development using tools, Alias and IceM Surf. This ensures that the Orange looks great from all angles and under a variety of lighting conditions while meeting the rigorous engineering, ergonomic, legal restrictions.
Styling review and sign-off has been completed digitally using Opticore, Stadco's virtual visualisation software which allowed us to proceed with a very high level of confidence in the surfaces.
Opticore Visualisation Models
A fully machined quarter scale model was then produced to enable the team to inspect a physical three dimensional representation and confirm final sign-off.
By continuing the development in CAD, Stadco's body engineers have been able to develop a body solution with a high degree of manufacturing feasibility. Particular attention has been paid to the door engineering and glasshouse layout, these are highly complex systems and have been engineered by Stadco to a level not usually associated with cars of this type.
For instance, the door system incorporating the drop glass mechanism, latch, hinge mounting, internal/external handles and sealing have all been developed together to mass production car standards. The whole body system including all the closures and seals have been developed for manufacture and a high level of quality fit and finish. This includes a sophisticated, highly detailed cowl and a precision body mounting system. Finally, when the engineering surface model was complete, Stadco's modellers worked alongside the engineers to develop a steel armature for the milled model, a mould split plan and mould desig in the CAD environment allowing for a more efficient workflow downstream.
The final engineering surface model was then used to produce a hard stackable model on Stadco's high speed milling machine. This was the master model from which all the moulds would be taken.
After milling, a degree of very fine hand finishing was undertaken in preparation for hi-gloss painting in Stadco's model shop. Stadco then painted the models in a highly durable paint ready for mould preparation.
When the final stacked model had been reviewed and approved by Zolfe, Stadco's modellers created the mould split 'shuttering' on the model and from there produced the composite mould tools.
These mould tools were then prepared for the manufacture of production body parts. Finally, the body was assembled to the frame in Stadco's dedicated builds shop.
Stadco's composite body facility will also provide Zolfe with body systems for all its production cars.
Multimatic Technology Centre Europe is a world class company specialising in the area of suspension system development for road & race car. MTCe will supply 4 Formula 1 teams will dampers in 2008 and worked with Jez Coates to develop the fully independent all wishbone suspension version of the Caterham Seven the CSR.
The History of Zolfe Sportz to date
The Orange is the first product of new Zolfe Sportz Company. Company founder Nic Strong decided none of the low volume track cars available appealed to him so he calmly decided to make his own. And so Zolfe Orange was born, with the original concept shown at Autosports 2007. Interest was intense but the packaging and drivetrain were immediately identified as issues which would limit the cars sales potential.
By chance, long time Caterham Cars Technical Director was looking for new challenge. The look, layout and size of the Orange mirror the specification of a car Jez had long harboured a desire to build. Jez immediately joined Zolfe as Technical Director and started to call on the talents of World Class Companies to help develop the Zolfe into a new class leading British sports car.