For the eagle-eyed car fanatics at our Silverstone SOLIDWORKS 2016
launch – there was a surprise treat in store.
Parked up and drawing many admiring glances was an aerodynamic gem of automotive engineering precision. To the uninitiated it looked like just another fast car (well we were at Silverstone), but to those petrol heads in the know it was a Radical SR8 SL – the World’s quickest legal road car, designed in SOLIDWORKS and built by New Technology CADCAM customer Radical Sports Cars
The proud owner was Steve Prentice of Steve Prentice Design who despite being involved with the SR8 project since its inception in 2002 – has only now been able to get his hands on one for himself.
“From the very first day I started working with Radical I wanted one of these cars,” admits Steve. “So for 10 years I have been asking them and they’ve always said, “No.” I think they were worried I would either kill myself straight away, have a bad accident or be a total embarrassment to them and keep breaking down,’ he jokes. But this summer, Steve saved up enough to buy a second hand car, with Radical’s unique RPE/Quaife six-speed transaxle with paddle shift gear change - the same specification used by Michael Vergers to set the production car lap record around the fearsome Nürburgring Nordscheleife in August 2009.
To make the car street legal, Radical had to get it to pass its MOT, which involved fitting a handbrake, a horn, number plates and tweaking the suspension and engine management for everyday use.
“The body work is much higher off the ground than the race car so I can get over all the speed bumps without looking ridiculous,” says Steve. “I’ve taken it twice through the Eurotunnel now and both times their staff start freaking out about it being too low or too wide, but it always fits. It’s a dream to drive and the aerodynamics mean it sticks to the road like glue. What’s great is when I take it to a circuit track day, the other race cars arrive on trailers but I can drive up with my daughter sitting in the passenger seat and then take it straight round for a spin. We’re usually one of the quickest on the day.”
Steve’s design brief for the SR8 was to design and build the lightest, most powerful V8 engine using superbike technology. Using the heads and pistons of the Suzuki Hayabusa motorbike, Steve and the Radical team used SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD to reverse engineer key parts, design new casings and do stress and kinematic analysis on the whole assembly to make it as light as it can possibly be.
“Radical wanted me to make a V8 engine out of two motorbike engines,” explains Steve, who has been working with New Technology CADCAM and a SOLIDWORKS user since 1997. “We wanted to double the horsepower of a standard Suzuki engine (170hp) and the first V8 engine we produced had 380hp. Now we’ve increased it to 455hp.”
The Radical SR8 LM has held the Nürburgring production car lap record since 2005 when a standard SR8 recorded a time of 6 minutes 55 seconds. Four years later Michael Vergers drove a street legal Radical SR8 (with Dunlop Direzza tyres) to the German circuit and took a full eight seconds off the previous time setting a new record of 6:48 – which still remains unbeaten today.
Discover how SOLIDWORKS and New Technology CADCAM are helping customers break more World records with intuitive 3D CAD software. Read about Inspired Cycle Engineering
who designed the first bike to cycle to the South Pole.