A little while back you may have heard the news that Nissan will be coming back to top level touring car racing in Australia next year. But they don’t really have a V8 sedan, so what car would they enter?
We can tell you they will be using a Nissan Altima and Speedcafe.com has produced this artist’s rendering of the Kelly Racing Nissan Altima V8 Supercar. You can download it for yourself, if you like.
The latest fifth-generation Altima was only revealed a few days ago, at the New York Auto Show. It’s a front-wheel drive model, powered by a 2.5 litre four-cylinder or a 3.5 litre V6.
Let’s repeat that: a front-wheel drive model powered by a 2.5 litre four-cylinder or a 3.5 litre V6.
But, under the new V8 Supercar “Car of the Future” regulations the Nissan Altima is eligible for entry into the series when the category commences its new world order next year. All of a sudden the Altima will become a rear-wheel drive, V8 powered racing taxi. (Actually, that last bit is true, too, thanks to a deal that will see the new Altima introduced to the NYC taxi fleet.)
That’s right, thanks to the introduction of a control chassis and a control engine all that will differentiate one V8 Supercar from another will be its outer skin and bagdes; which, you’ll be pleased to know, are real. Yep, the badges will be about the only real things on the bloody car.
What a con!
Car of the Future: The Next Generation
The layman’s guide to Car of the Future â€¦
A three-year project in the making, V8 Supercarsâ€™ Car of the Future will make its racing debut at the beginning of the 2013 V8 Supercars Championship.
So just what is the â€˜Car of the Futureâ€™?
Car of the Future (COTF) means new competitors, new cars, more races, safer drivers and more race excitement for fans with new manufacturers and a ‘new generation’ V8 Supercar on the Championship grid from next year.
Towards that goal, two prototype cars â€“ one a Falcon and one a Commodore â€“ were built, tested and developed with the sponsorship support of Dunlop last year and represent the next generation of cars that will compete in the V8 Supercars Championship.
Five-time series champion Mark Skaife oversaw the development of the original concept before a key team of engineers, designers, car builders, V8 Supercar team personnel and drivers worked on the project, which was officially unveiled at last yearâ€™s Sydney Telstra 500.
Regardless of how many new manufacturers enter the V8 Supercars Championship under the COTF rules, the change is an important and necessary one for the future of the class and its viability.
That said, the ‘DNA’ of V8 Supercar racing will not change from 2013 when this new generation of cars takes over and Nissan – the first of expected new marques – joins Holden and Ford on the grid.
The cars will still feature V8 engines, be rear-wheel drive and have four opening doors.
Currently, the chassis beneath the skin of the Falcon and Commodore are all extremely similar, so COTF introduces a control chassis â€” it’s cheaper and also aimed at making it easier for other marques to build a car and join in the action.
The manufacturer has a few options for what engine it will use.
It may use its own V8 engine with a parity system applied to ensure itâ€™s on even performance levels with the existing cars, or elect to use a â€˜categoryâ€™ engine if it prefers to use already-established technology.
Reducing costs is a key focus of COTF and it’s expected that the cost of building a new car will reduce by around half in comparison to a current specification machine.
There are many benefits and objectives of the COTF project.
- Ensuring the long-term viability and growth of the sport.
- Opening up V8 Supercars to new manufacturers to compete.
- Making cars cheaper to build and repair.
- Making cars safer, lighter and stronger.
- Increasing the motoring market relevance of V8 Supercars.
- Maintaining the â€˜DNAâ€™ of V8 Supercars (V8 engines, rear wheel drive etc).
- Increasing the number of V8 Supercars events in the future in a condensed calendar across multiple countries.
- Ensuring higher quality racing.
After all, if the cars are cheaper to build, teams are more likely to be able to have additional cars constructed and available.
Expanding the calendar and racing more often â€” a long-held goal of V8 Supercars, which aims for 18 events in future â€” becomes far more practical.
Also, more events means more racing for everyone: TV viewers, fans and sponsors.
Technically, there are some changes to the new generation cars to increase their relevance to the motoring market, and from a safety point of view there are plenty of advancements to protect drivers.
So, whatâ€™s different about a 2013 COTF car versus a current V8 Supercar?
- Chassis design and specification will now be fixed. All chassis to be dimensionally identical, but different accredited vehicle builders can construct them.
- Engine is mounted 100mm further back and down. Protects engine in case of frontal impact and improves weight distribution.
- Increase in wheel and tyre size to 18-inch provided by Dunlop. Bigger brakes can therefore also be fitted.
- Windscreen becomes polycarbonate. Itâ€™s 250 times stronger than glass.
- Collapsible steering column with collapsible section in the engine bay, rather than the cabin.
- Different transmission, moving to a transaxle, which incorporates the differential and gearbox in one assembly.
- Adoption of IRS (Independent Rear Suspension) with control pickup points and a control specification of uprights and wishbones.
- Fuel cell moved further forward in the car to protect from rear impacts.
As much as COTF may seem complicated, the end result is that race fans, whether casual or hardcore, should have plenty to look forward to.
The cars will essentially look the same from the outside; they’ll still make that unique V8 Supercar growl and the best drivers from this part of the world, and sometimes the other, will still be fighting it out for the title.
Cutting costs, having more races, making the drivers safer and welcoming new competitors to tackle Ford and Holden can’t be a bad thing!
MARK SKAIFE, CHAIRMAN, V8 SUPERCARS COMMISSION
â€œWe already have an outstanding product so this is a case of evolution, not revolution.”
â€œThe major changes are under the skin or in the design architecture primarily to make the cars cheaper to build and to repair. We also want to ensure the market relevance by keeping the car as close as it can possibly be to the car on the show room floor.â€
â€œWe want for the whole of the industry to be able to run the cars more cost-effectively. So for everybody â€“ the team owners, the fans and supporters of our sport â€“ it will keep our teams more viable and provide better racing.â€
â€œWe encourage new manufacturers to be with us. If we are able to have two or three manufacturers over the next three or four years we will be in a very healthy position. There are untold benefits for both V8 Supercars and I believe particularly for Nissan, as the first manufacturer to join us.â€
â€œAustralia is a very different place in 2011 than in 1993. Today Ford and Holden combined have roughly 20 per cent of the market. The other 80 per cent of the market needs to be embraced by V8 Supercars. The reality is you canâ€™t have your whole sport based on 20 per cent of the car market.â€
â€œOne aspect that needs to be improved about our sport is momentum and rhythm. We want to be able to build the cars more cheaply so teams can have cars in stock to go racing. The end result will be a better show. There will be more, higher quality racing and this will see V8 Supercars continue as the most cost effective, competitive and exciting touring car category in the world.â€