A brand new book written by Stuart Mills, the MD of MEV and creator of over 20 modern kit cars. How To Design A Sports Car takes you behind the scenes of a kit car manufacturer to show you how to take a car from the drawing board to reality – and it’s written by someone who has done exactly that dozens of times over!
Paperback available today from www.completekitcar.co.uk
The idea of building a car, never mind the even more potentially daunting thought of actually designing one, would to most people seem an outrageous and impossible idea. Surely that is something Ford or Mercedes do, and they’re quite good at it so let’s just leave it at that then. On the other hand, let’s not. Everyone in the world, almost, has heard of Henry Ford, but before Ford produced millions of cars which are now scattered all over our planet with their instantly recognisable blue oval logo, Henry Ford was at one time an unknown chap with a bit of an idea to build a car, just like you. However we are not talking about you trying to become the next Henry Ford or trying to emulate any of the greats of the car industry, this is better than that. Design, develop and build your own.
As a child you pushed little toy cars around the floor, then maybe progressed to a home-made go cart, or a bought one if you were really lucky, and after what may have seemed an age of waiting in eager anticipation, you finally got your driving licence and a car. Now go one wonderful leap further, design, build and drive your own car. Why settle for what a manufacturer thinks you should drive and is the same as the car lots of other people drive around in? We are talking about YOUR OWN design, and the only thing that can stand in your way is you. Despite the fact that almost everyone you know drives a car, people are shocked at the idea of someone coming up with their own vehicle, and everyone will think you’re stupendously clever to even be able to think of doing such a thing.
There are lots of what are termed “kit car” building options, which come supplied to you in bits ready to marry up to some more bits of what is termed a “donor” car, which is a production car from which you glean parts you need to complete the kit, such as the engine and transmission. This option is fine, however, the key word here is individuality, and when you’re at a gathering and you tell someone your building your own car, they may say “oh yeah a kit car, what make is it?” and you can proudly say “no, my own car, my designs, my ideas. From a picture in my mind, into reality and onto the road, all mine”, at this stage you can even say “it’s called a ..........”. You fill in the blank.
Now that you have established that you can’t go through life without having created your own road going work of art, let’s put the “pedal to the metal” and get on with it. Remember, as you partake of this marvellous project, there are no problems, only solutions, if you hit a problem it’s only something you haven’t yet found the answer to, there’s no such thing as you can’t, only that you may be experiencing a little difficulty. This is partly why doing a design and build is so much fun, you are in total control, you dictate the pace, and you will find yourself quite cosily absorbed in the whole process.
In this unique book we follow the thought, design and build processes of the most prolific serial car designer in the UK in the last decade, for the development of a car, and elaborate on the methods and design criteria used to enable you to see at first hand the creator’s decision making in action, which gives you an insight into how it’s done and giving you sufficient technical background to allow you to design and build your own car.
If you don’t want to build a car but just want to learn how it’s done, you will also enjoy this book as armchair or bath time reading, and you will emerge equipped well enough to hold your own in conversations where any of the topics covered are raised. Enjoy the experience whichever option you are choosing.
I have an excuse for writing this foreword and that is that I have been working alongside Stuart Mills for thirty years. This has been an absolute privilege and has also given
me the opportunity to watch, learn and partake of the complete unflinching dedication and determination that is required to see a project through from a blank piece of paper to a finished vehicle, and sometimes, a best selling car. The press occasionally report that British car manufacturing is dead, actually, it’s alive and well and thriving in garages and workshops near you. Albeit sometimes on a small scale basis, or cottage industry as people like to call it, but it is there, and there is a mass more talent waiting to be brought to life, all they need is a bit of help, a bit of pointing in the right direction, arming with some knowledge, and a great big dollop of inspiration. That is what Stuart Mills is striving to provide by writing this book.
In business, people are often heard saying I am going to do this or I am going to do that, and nothing transpires. If Stuart releases a drawing or a teaser of a car saying this will be at the shows next year, then everyone knows it will be. Stuart has to date, designed, built and brought to market twenty six vehicles, some have been and are, hugely commercially successful and others haven’t. People who are closely involved with Mills Extreme Vehicles Ltd know that I joke about Monday mornings and Stuart arriving with an imaginary light bulb switched on over his head as he tells me “I’ve had an idea”, and I listen with eager anticipation as he rolls out another innovation. Stuart’s approach is to come up with ideas of vehicles that he would personally like in his garage that are not available in the showrooms. It is interesting to hear Stuart’s stories of when ideas have come to him, as sometimes it can be early morning, late at night, or sometimes even in the middle of the night. It is not unusual when we have locked up at 7pm or 8pm and gone home for the evening, for Stuart to have been back at 10pm for a few hours saying to me the next morning “I didn’t like it!”, and a design has been altered! One editor even published in his magazine the headline “does the man never sleep?”! Stuart’s enormous appetite for creating cars and his intense attention to it throughout it’s gestation period is what has brought Mills Extreme Vehicles Ltd to the position it now occupies. MEV has a stable of cars which very possibly caters for almost everybody’s different car building desires, the electric power enthusiasts, the bike engine trike enthusiasts, the bike engine car enthusiasts, the exoskeletal enthusiasts, the semi-bodied enthusiasts, the full bodied weather gear enthusiasts, the front engine and mid engine enthusiasts, and the classic retro enthusiasts.
As we sat one day contemplating his progress to date, Stuart pondered the idea that it may be considered a shame that he has all this experience, knowledge and enthusiasm and it’s all hidden in a workshop in Mansfield, and so we came to discuss the possibility of a platform where Stuart could share all this, and a book was born. The driving force behind this idea was to show others who may not have an idea how to begin any kind of car creating project, how to set about it and how to carry it through to it’s fruition, and the primary aim is to inspire and educate people how to make this happen. As we find ourselves in an era where people are engrossed in all things electronic, Stuart has found, through creating cars that are affordable, modern, and not too difficult to build, a whole new young generation of car builders. Some observers had thought this was not possible, and were watching our industry decline as the previous generation of enthusiastic builders aged. Bringing in these youngsters is what will keep home car building alive, and with this book comes the spark of inspiration that means these guys will take this baton and run with it. You have only got to view the MEV Owner’s forum to see that while building a car supplied by us, new owners start to get ideas of their own, and a natural progression of this is that they begin to innovate, and make changes, at first it is a way of customising their cars, or changing the way they approach certain aspects of their build, they compare this to the ways other builders are constructing and begin to have discussions on the forum about various aspects of their build, and the thought process starts to happen, inspiration. This was one of the main reasons for Stuart’s idea behind “Build Guides” for our cars as opposed to “instructions”, he steadfastly said he didn’t want to tell people how to make every single bracket and every single mount, he said he wanted people to think about the build and come up with their own ideas, or discuss their ideas with others, and this is where technology has been invaluable. Through the internet these builders have got instant access to each other’s builds and ways to communicate with each other that would previously have been thought impossible, and there is also another wave of people who have long discussed on internet forums various ways they would like to build a car or see a car built, but have never done it. I feel this book is a vehicle to encourage like minded people to design and then build their own car. It may be a one off, or it may be the basis for a whole new business, and this is the aim of this publication. Stuart can inspire people of all ages to design and build cars, and he knows that we can go a step further now, and encourage a new generation to pick up this book, read it, and go and create.
Co-Director - Mills Extreme Vehicles Ltd