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Project Terrapin: a Design for a "Turtle Deck" Roadster

Lately, my design blood has been really bubbling. I guess I'm just anxious to forget playing on my computer and getting back to modeling and twisting a wrench. Here's my latest idea: a "Turtle Deck" roadster which emulates a little more antique version of the 1932 Studebaker two man Indianapolis racer my father once owned.

Exner Turtle-Deck Roadster

This design is an evolution from the boat-tailed "Torpolino" roadster I shared here a while ago. I actually started with a slimmer rear engine (VW Beetle components) "Torpedo" design like the Cycle Kart, but have the opportunity to get Volvo P1800S engine and driveline components, so switched to a more conventional front engine design with a wider nose and grille for a radiator. 

Turtle drawing Turtle specsThe "Turtle Deck" is wider than a "Boat Tail", more like the rear end of a typical hot rod, and better accommodates a center mounted license plate with back-up lights as well as the minimal fuel tank. I then added separate fenders with built-in step plates to cilmb into the cockpit with the elimination of doors that allow for a stronger and lighter 2 place body structure. The rag top is more easily stowed in the wider trunk. Clear "rollable" side curtains would also be necessary. All difficult for entry and egress, but "racier".

I hope to build this car in the near future, and a Cycle Kart, and a trailer for the Cycle Kart, but I will start with 1/5 scale models.


Cyclekart trailerA little background: In 1984 I won the 30th "Weak Signals" R/C Expo in Toledo, Ohio with a 1/4 scale (gas) model of a midget race car.  

Exner R-C carToledo's 60th show will be early April 2014. I will still be 80 then, and I would like to win it again 30 years later. I will build an R/C (electric) model of the "Turtle Deck" pulling a trailer loaded with a 1/5 scale R/C Cycle Kart, then proceed to the full size versions. Hopefully, I'll be able to pull up to the door in Toledo with the real vehicles and unload the models. Am I dreaming?

--Virgil M. Exner, Jr.


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Excellent idea. Build a functioning prototype and I hereby volunteer to be the primary road tester. For, oh, maybe 10 years or so. Have to make sure it's road-worth over the long term, donchaknow. . . .

This is somewhat reminiscent of a time in my younger years (in the '50's) when I received the "Midget Motors Directory," which if I remember correctly, was published in Athens, Ohio. It was relatively small, and had ads and plans for all vehicles motorized. A very prominent ad was for the components and design of a quarter mile track racer, powered by a Ford flathead V8. Apparently, in the days before and after WW2, there were several short racetracks around the country, at which a lot of these small racers competed.

That is really neat, Mr. Exner - hope that you keep posting images as your project progresses. I also like your renderings and line drawings quite a lot.

Man... you are cool.

The roll cage kind of ruins the simple beauty of the design.

Toledo's not that far away from me. I plan to be there when you roll up in your roadster.

how can i buy plans to build the studebaker. pleas let me know. Thank you.

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