There can’t be many racing car projects in recent years that have attracted as much interest and support as the radical DeltaWing and now its makers have announced that they’re going to build a road-going version.
What they haven’t done, though, is hand out pictures of that road car. So it’s useful that the firm has patented its design instead instead, giving us an early glimpse of the likely appearance of the road going machine.
First, a bit of background on the convoluted history of the DeltaWing. It started life in 2009 as a proposal for the new generation of Indycar, using the odd-looking narrow-front-track layout created by British designer Ben Bowlby. The idea was that by shifting the weight distribution to the rear, the back tires would take more of the strain in braking and cornering, allowing the front to use narrow tires mounted close together for an aerodynamic benefit. The Indycar proposal wasn’t chosen, but the idea was taken on by race and road car builder Don Panoz and developed into a Le Mans car, powered by a Nissan engine. This eventually led to the development by Nissan of the similarly-laid-out ZEOD RC electric Le Mans car and its BladeGlider road car concept after Bowlby left DeltaWing for the Japanese firm – a move that led to a legal case between DeltaWing and Nissan.
DeltaWing has gone on competing with its own, petrol-powered machine in the American Le Mans Series and the United SportsCar Championship.
The firm now plans to expand into road cars using the same concept, making both two and four-seat machines and revealed on 20 March that it plans to make the two-seater first, with prototypes intended to hit the road later this year. The idea is to use the road car to homologate a racing version in the GTE or GT3 classes.
While DeltaWing hasn’t officially revealed any pictures of the road car, just after its announcement a patent was published under the firm’s name and citing Don Panoz as the designer – and it shows a machine that matches the company’s description of a two-seat road model.
Just as on the Le Mans car, the design features four headlights – two on the nose and two on the much wider rear wheelarches, just behind the doors. But the road model’s shape is quite different to the racer, with a much wider cabin and larger, more practical doors. Unlike the racer, it also gets a rear window – albeit one that’s split down the middle by a large stabilizing fin. Although only published in late March this year, the designs were actually penned in late 2013, suggesting that this is a project that’s been underway for a while. That fits neatly with the firm’s stated intention to have a prototype ready later this year, since it must already have a significant amount of work completed to be able to achieve that goal.