19. July 2012
Although the Morgan 3 Wheeler—yes, this is a real car produced by a real car company in the U.K. (the Morgan Motor Company, which was established in 1909), that is approved for use in the U.S. and in Europe—appears as though it comes from an early day, from back in the 1930s.
What’s interesting to note, however, is that the people at Morgan are using advanced 21st century design tools in developing what is clearly a vintage look.
Acknowledges Morgan senior designer Jon Wells, “Although Morgan cars are known for their classic style and quality workmanship, we also need to take the best from the latest technology to enable us to be competitive and keep up with the demand for new ideas.”
For example, to develop a concept vehicle, the design staff had been making 2D drawings that were transformed into panel-beaten aluminum bodies so as to get a physical representation of the drawing. It took plenty of time. It required plenty of skill. And it pretty much meant that they were locked in to the design.
Now they are using an array of software from Autodesk. The designers use Autodesk Alias to create 3D digital prototypes and Autodesk Showcase and Autodesk 3ds Max for visualization. When the design is thought to be complete, Alias data is used for the programming of a five-axis milling machine, which machines a model. Once there’s agreement that it is good, it is scanned, so any adjustments can be made in the Alias model.
“The skills and charm of traditional coach building are not lost at this point,” says Wells. The Alias data is used to create a 3D wooden buck for the body shape. Then panel beaters use it to create the skin of the concept car.
When they decide to go to a production build, the Alias surfaces are brought to a Class A standard, and the engineering department uses that to create the tooling necessary to build the panels that eventually go over the reinforced tubular chassis of the car.
Classic. Clean. And contemporary.