Covini to produce hybrid Speedster version of six-wheeled supercar

Covini to produce hybrid Speedster version of six-wheeled supercar
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Covini is testing a new petrol-electric hybrid "speedster" version of the new 434 bhp V8 C3A. In testing, the track-only hybrid is apparently proving to be extremely fast with excellent braking and handling. The six-wheelTyrell P34 Formula One car won an F1 race before it was banned, so the logical benefits of four-front-wheels (reduced high speed lift and improved aerodynamics, more rubber, more braking power and more grip, particularly in treacherous conditions) are once again being validated.

The Covini four wheel project has been going on for a decade now and we first wrote up the C6 eight years ago.

Italian mechanical engineer Ferruccio Covini came up with the idea of a modern version of the four-front wheels inspired by the logical engineering advantages of the P34 Tyrell.

The original concept was a product of a Ford America's Seattle-ite "far future" concept car built for the world fair in 1963.

Of all the concept cars produced throughout history, many of which have forecast technologies far before their time, the Ford Seattle-ite XXI, built to symbolize the future of American technological know-how for the 1963 World's Fair, was the boldest.

Amongst a range of concepts, the car encompassed interchangeable nuclear fuel cell power units, interchangeable bodies, interactive computer navigation, mapping and other remote auto information systems, and four driving and steering wheels. The concept car was non-functional, as the technologies to produce it did not exist.

The car drive train is expected to be equally balanced between petrol and electric power contribution, and while the hybrid will have regenerative braking, the press information indicates a single electric motor.

The current Covini C3A was one of the most exciting cars at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year - the only supercar indeed, car of any kind with four front wheels. Covini has taken the very sound engineering principles which support the four-front wheels concept. More rubber on the road means better steering and braking and with modern brakes, suspension and advanced computerized control systems, the modern interpretation is very compelling.

The petrol-engined C3A is rear-wheel drive, though what the hybrid vehicle's power train might be has not yet been revealed in full. The car that drove up Lord March's drieveway at Goodwood has longitudinally-mounted 434hp eight-cylinder engine of Audi parentage driving those wheels.

The normally-aspirated V8 produces maximum torque of around 470Nm at 2,700rpm, suggesting the performance of the 1150kg will be spectacular indeed.

The chassis achieves its light weight by virtue of a combination of a steel tubular spaceframe with carbon fiber structural parts and composite panels and an independent suspension with front and rear wishbones. The body work is glass fiber and carbon fiber.

In terms of the Covini's most obvious feature, the four 15 inch front wheels run 205/45-15 tires and the two 20 inch rear wheels run 345/25-20 tires.

Covini has gone to a lot of trouble to develop the lightweight wheels, pushrod front suspension and steering of the four wheels, so it will be interesting to see whether four electric wheel motors will find their way onto the front of the C3A hybrid. If four-wheel drive offers more traction than two-wheel drive, then surely six-wheel drive will be better still. Four moderately powered electric motors at the front would provide more than enough oomph to balance whatever horsepower is being fed to the rear wheels.

The press release does however mention one electric motor, not four or five. We'll trust that to Covini for now, and look forward to the prospect of the open topped track car breaking cover.

ADDENDUM - A number of people have contacted us about the four-front-wheeled concept being used by different manufacturers and yes - we missed one. The Panther 6 was inspired by the Tyrell P34 and two prototypes were built back in the seventies - they reportedly did more than 200 mph but for various reasons never saw full production.

Yet another with four steering wheels is the Eliica electric car, which has an electric motor in each of the front wheels and has previously been reported on by Gizmag here, here and here.

Then there were two movie car's Miss Penelope's pink chauffer-driven Cadillac in Thunderbirds and Captain Nemo's car in "The League of extraordinary Gentlemen" pictured below.

View gallery - 17 images
This is a VERY cool car and it\'s about time some one thought out of the box wheel wise, it reminds me of the Panther Six back in the late 70\'s with a twin turbo 500 cu. in. Cadillac motor, it could do 200 m.p.h. when that was UNHEARD of in any other car and apparently it had such a powerful A/C that it could keep you cool even with the top down! :-)
Mr Stiffy
Hmm climbing in and out of a minimal visibility shoe box with 6 wheels for gas guzzling suburban commuting.... Just like sitting on a six wheeled skate board with a card board box around you. Classy. Does it come with a shoe horn for my arse and head?
The four small front tires of the Tyrell P34 Formula One car were to put the same amount of rubber on the road, without the aerodynamic drag of the large tires that they replaced. It worked quite well. I don\'t know why it wasn\'t designed with four rear tires as well.
What, no mention of Lady Penelope\'s six-wheeled FAB1 Rolls-Royce?
Peter Strømberg
Exactly! When I saw the pic, I was sure it was going to be an article about the new Hollywood blockbuster remake of Thunderbirds. Quite disappointed as you can imagine.
Facebook User
Anyone seen the Tri-bent from Turner recumbents?
Mr Stiffy
Just a thought - the formula 1 car that had the 4 front wheels - I remember it, and seeing other kids in school with the die cast models of it...
Long time ago.
But the F1 car was developed because the smaller frontal surface area of the small wheels, with one set running in the wake of the front ones, gave a considerable advantage in terms of aerodynamic resistance.......
So that point is moot for the new car.
But for the suburban crawl - aside from SOME advantages like weight distribution etc.. and contact area etc., the extra rolling resistance of 4 SMALL tyres (and gears and gear boxes etc) over 2 large diameter free rolling wheels would be a considerable.
Still prefer a bicycle...
But that Ford America\'s Seattle-ite \"far future\" concept car built for the world fair in 1963 - that as much as it is totally garish and fins and all that - I think that is one of the best looking cars I have EVER seen....
And that WOMAN - Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh she is SO incredibly SEXY.
She has to be the most incredibly sexy woman I have EVER seen.
Now you know why grand dad has the hots for grand ma..... or it that great grandad?

Jim Andrews
I think someone has been watching \"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen\" movie way too many times .They had such a car in the movie.
Island Architect
In about 1980, Bill Allison, the genius suspension engineer [Hudson, Packard, Ford (Packard Torsion Ride)] was in retirement perfecting the wind engine and hitting the Betz Limit and going into hysterics about the fools chasing the extremely low efficiency three bladed fans (he sounded like Mr. Peepers in his hilarity), he also continued his life\'s work in suspension developments.

He developed a double bogied suspension system with two long walking beams hinged at the center and connected to bogied front and rear suspensions.

He built comparative models of 4, 6 and 8 wheels and simply allowed them to roll down an inclined plane and then measured the distance which they rolled. Any child could repeat this experiment.

It was invariable regardless of the angle of the inclined plane. 8 wheels rolled way farther, 6 an intermediate distance and 4 the shortest distance. Bill pointed out that the reason that the 8 wheeled vehicle rolled so far was that it had far less rolling resistance. FAR LESS, contrary to what some people think. And that is the reason that rail cars have 8 wheels because they have approximately 1/8th the rolling resistance.

And Bill was well aware back then that it was most important to have the 4 wheels up front.

So the Japanese professor who has been producing 8 wheeled vehicles fully understands that. His 19 passenger electric car that was at the NAIAS a few years back hit 200MPH because it was of that configuration, not mechanically but hydraulicaly.
His continuted development of a more common 4 or 6 passenger car is in perfect alignment with those found laws of physics dismissed by people who cannot comprehend the fact.

He mentioned that the wheels no longer needed fat tires and could use motor cycle wheels.

His conclusions were:
Far safer.
Far less inclined to break loose from the road.
Far smoother ride.
Far more energy saving in jounce heat.
Far more able to continue in the case of a blowout.
Far lower rolling resistance
Far more fuel efficient.
Superior in every way.

When I told him that I liked the Mog, he sternly and quickly commented, Oh NO it\'s very dangerous, it\'s simply a motorcycle. That is a seasoned suspension engineer talking. So one is left to wonder about the solar powered guys, will they ever understand that? Probably none will ever experiment to find out.

And it was interesting that He and Dr. Moulton were aware of each other\'s work and respected each other. Ever ride a Moulton bicycle? Very smooth and that is why they set world speed records, according to Bill. They do not waste energy in heat.

Jay Leno\'s analysis of the ride of the Packard Caribbean is a bright hoot.
And Hitler\'s 6 wheeled Mercedes had it backwards, like his concept on humanity.

The Covini is very beautifully sculpted but why the sorrowful mouth? No it does not have to look manic like the Mazda\'s either.

Mr Stiffy
@ Island Architect....
Well I can prove you wrong on all of that.
Firstly train bogies USE 2 axle sets, in INDEPENDENTLY pivoting units, to allow for the mean alignment of the wheels to the rails during cornering.
Secondly my great, great, great grandfather, Henry Hanson - proved that vehicles with 2 big wheels ARE faster and have less rolling resistance than 4 wheels - when the bullock dray (4 wheels) he was driving - broke in half, lost all of it's load and immediately shot up from 3MPH to 4 and one 1/2 MPH - and it held that speed for the next 3 days, thus beating his brothers bullock team into the next town by 18 hours.
This undisputed fact is the reason why ALL vehicles today have the minimum amount of LARGE wheels, instead of lots and lots of small wheels.
Here is his photo.
All good engineering texts refer to this event as the Hanson Principle of Time, Space and Motion - preceding A. Einstein by 150 years, and it's probably where that clerk stole all his ideas from - being that it was my GGG Grandfather who created the principle of E=MC2 in the form of T=BW2 or Traction = Bullocks x Wheels 2 (rolling resistance squared at the rate of axles and wheel sets increasing).