INSPIRATION AND DESIGN
Tesla have been steadily pushing the limits of acceleration races since their Tesla Roadster first appeared on the roads in 2008. These days, sober looking Tesla sedans and crossovers are able to out accelerated all but the most expensive hypercars. In the USA the traditional kings of street and drag racing were the muscle cars – these were attractive looking coupes with large capacity powerful V8 engines. Modern Tesla sedans and crossovers consistently embarrass highly modified muscle cars during races from junction stops. This inspired me to design a muscular, all-American style of electric sports car to attract muscle car buyers by offering the contemporary experience of chest crushing acceleration with a style that more reflects their personality.
The new Tesla Roadster is a 4 seat hypercar so it made sense to focus on a different and sparsely populated, premium niche – a 2 seat grand tourer (GT) similar in size to a Dodge Viper or Corvette would fit nicely into the Tesla range in my opinion. Maybe some day they might even compete against each other in GT endurance races.
For the styling I wanted to capture the essence of the most loved muscle cars from the 1960s but combined with modern proportions and aerodynamics. I was also inspired to design a car based on Nikola Tesla’s obsession with the numbers 3, 6 and 9.
“If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 and 9, then you would have a key to the universe.”
– Nikola Tesla
These numbers became the theme of the exterior, producing a fresh, futuristic style.
I was always impressed by the seamless sophistication of modern mobile phones and devices, this inspired me to group multiple functions within the front and rear OLED lighting panels without joints separating them, a modern take of the hidden headlamps seen on ’69 Camaros and Chargers. I imagine that each OLED could have it’s own tiny lense eliminating the pixellated effect seen on recent concept cars.
The side view is a modern interpretation of the classic 3 box coupe silhouette made popular by the Camaro/Cuda/Challenger/Mustang muscle cars with hints of Corvette Stingray. I think that part of their appeal is the dynamic and powerful looking stance, with a high up tail.
An electric car provides more freedom to play around with proportions.
Muscle cars, like most cars from the 60s had flat fronts and rears, this was to make the side view look as long and elegant as the dimensions would allow.
For my design, a feature line runs from the car’s leading edge to the tail, providing a long and elegant side view.
To make the front and rear look as wide as possible without the brick-like aerodynamics of the 60s, I integrated air deflectors at each corner. At the front, air is guided from the front lighting panel and ducted past the inside of the air deflector where it passes over vortex generators integrated into the side marker lights on the lead edge of the front wheel arch. The vortexes create a turbulent boundary layer that attracts the main laninar airflow close to the body side . Vortex generators are also present at the trailing edge of the rear wheel arch, the generated vortexes, draw some of the airflow through the rear deflector duct creating a depression that draws the main airflow into a converging direction to reduce the size of the drag inducing wake behind the car (or at least that’s what I think might occur).
The main body has a faceted crystalline feel onto which curvaceous wheels arches appear to be clamping the wheels on with giant claws.
The wheels measure 21″ at the rear and 20″ at the front with powerful brakes that work in conjunction with regenerative braking from the motors, this will allow the car to stop with G-forces matching the acceleration.
Side mirrors are replaced with small cameras at the top of the A-posts – laws and regulations can change 😉
I was becoming quite good at 3D modelling my product designs so I chose the Tesla GT muscle car theme to build my first complete Alias model of a car exterior.
After building the initial sketch model based on the side view sketch, the design and proportions evolved substantially to capture the feeling of the three quarter view sketches. The front and rear evolved into something less blocky, I wanted to create a ‘mean looking’ facial expression without using standard headlights.
I learnt a lot about Alias and 3D modelling, I’m not quite ready to become a class A modeller but I became confident enough to create all the 3D printed parts for my EXPAERO project:
The photo-realistic renderings were created in VRED. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to create amazing images, it makes the Alias model look quite different when it has shadows and realistic reflections etc.
I experimented with different background environments from:
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