PT Bruiser

Chrysler’s PT Cruiser was designed to reflect 1930s-era automobile styling. I can’t speak on the vehicle’s performance or reliability; but I do like its retro look. And of course, my easily-excited imagination had me wondering if I could make it even more retro by further hot-rodding it out.

PT Bruiser: A chopped and hot-rodded PT Cruiser.

PT Bruiser: A chopped and hot-rodded PT Cruiser.

Larger image: 1000w x 384h

After drafting the base model over a high-resolution photo, the first step was to angle the body to give the Bruiser a more aggressive stance. It would have been easy — far too easy — to rotate the entire body. Instead, I left the engine compartment alone, and used the top end of the front door line as a pivot point about which to rotate the rest of the car. I initially tried a 5° rotation, but that was stunningly excessive. I then tried a more subtle 2° rotation; this gave me the “hot rod” rake I was looking for, without it appearing too cartoonish.

Comparison: Original (red) and raked (black) body stances.

Comparison: Original (red) and raked (black) body stances.

Larger image: 1000w x 408h

As I said, I chopped the roof; however in this comparison image the rotated body retains the original roof geometry because it more clearly shows the effect of the rotation. (I had considered drawing the Bruiser’s running boards (yes, real running boards) horizontally, but that would “hide” the rake, so those too are rotated.)

I easily dismissed the notion of an exposed engine because I wanted to retain the distinctive look of the PT’s engine compartment. A more traditional closer-fitting fender, a bumper to replace the molded skirt, classic side vents and a few other details gave me the look I wanted.

Comparison: Original and modified front ends.

Comparison: Original and modified front ends.

Since I kept the closed engine compartment, I decided a scoop would give me additional “hot rod flair”. But I also wanted to avoid the typical squarish design; rather, I wanted something that would seem more “organic” to the Bruiser’s retro look. So I copied the Bruiser’s hoodline, scaled it down and built the rest of the scoop around it.

Custom scoop using hoodline geometry.

Custom scoop using hoodline geometry.

Larger image: 1000w x 320h

Not being an automotive engineer, I have no idea whether a scoop designed this way would actually work (or if the front support/mounting flange is necessary, for that matter). But that’s one of the fun things about having a wild imagination: I only have to make something that looks good; it’s up to the Howard Wolowitzeses of the world to actually make the thing function.

(Full disclosure: As I was putting this post together, I realised that the opening in the hood is far too small to be able to raise the hood with the scoop attached. Oops.)

Modification to the rear of the vehicle was simple, with replacement of the bumper and redrawing of the fender being fairly straightforward. However, while the simple round headlight was sufficient for the front fender, I wanted something more stylish for the taillight array. After doing an online image search for 1950s-style taillights for inspiration, I came up with a design which gives the nostalgic feel I was looking for.

Comparison: Original and modified rear ends.

Comparison: Original and modified rear ends.

Note that the minor body rotation also gave me more than enough room to add a larger, more “hot rod appropriate” rear tire.

I used the top end of the middle line of the B-pillar as a basepoint (or perhaps “target” is more accurate) to place a copy of the combined roof and windows, to determine if this gave a satisfactory look. It did, giving me about 3.6″ of chop to the roofline.

However, as the profile of the roof structure is roughly trapezoidal, the dropped copy was several inches too short front-to-back. I was initially going to stretch it along the horizontal axis, but I was hesitant. If you use CAD software, you too have probably had the experience of trying to stretch a group of selected objects which includes one or more curved objects, and getting quite useless results.

To stretch, or not to stretch, that is the question.

To stretch, or not to stretch, that is the question.

The Holy Spirit advised me to cut the drop into three sections, and then slide the front and rear sections separately along a line paralleling the new, rotated window baseline. This worked remarkably well, and allowed the rebuilding of the roof and window geometries to be relatively simple.

DbG_PTB_10_Win_cut_02

Why stretch, when you can simply move stuff?

To the modified roof I added a fixed softtop, a design element often seen on 1930s vehicles which I find very attractive. It’s also reminiscent of childhood favorites such as Hot Wheels’32 Ford Vicky.

Comparison: Original and modified roof geometries.

Comparison: Original and modified roof geometries.

Larger image: 1000w x 585h

Finally, I added a visor to further draw out the new roofline, and to add that one more extra touch of “classic hot rod” vibe.

I look forward to your comments and questions about the PT Bruiser.

(Teaser: My next customization project will have you seeing stars. Or at least, it will have your head in the clouds.)


I am interested in full- or part-time employment, or additional freelance projects, so please contact me. You’re also welcome to follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

GTOooh!

A fellow employee back in the ’90s drove a sweet GTO to work. His department started earlier than mine, so he was usually able to get a good parking spot in about the same place each day, and so I’d often see that GTO as I drove in. I had this notion to take a good profile photo of the car, then edit the photo in my graphics software to stretch it out and customize it.

Time went by, and I eventually left that job; never got around to getting that photograph. But I never forgot about the idea. So, I drafted it for the portfolio:

Stretched & customized GTO

Stretched & customized GTO “Judge”

Larger image (1000 x 281)

I don’t recall which particular GTO model my friend had, but my favorite model is the “Judge”. The first step was to download a high-quality line drawing of that model, as well as a high-resolution profile photo of the car for additional visual reference.

I first printed the line drawing, then took about 15″ of onion skin to sketch over it. I started with the front tire, which I slid around until it “landed” in about the right place in front of the door line to represent a spare; I then sketched most of the passenger compartment. I then moved the onion skin again until the “spare” landed in about the right place along the engine compartment, and sketched the front end. I continued like this until I got a rough sketch of the customization I was looking for.

Pictured: The very definition of

Pictured: The very definition of “rough sketch”

I scanned the sketch and imported it and the line drawing into AutoSketch. I then measured the lengths of the line drawing and sketch, and used that ratio to scale the scan to the line drawing. I then drafted the base model over the line drawing. (If you’re a serious GTO fan, and you find yourself saying, “Hey! You forgot the…”: Yes; yes I did. Intentionally. Knowing that in reducing the images for this portfolio and converting them to JPG, there’d be losses, I “skipped” certain details in drafting the base model.)

Base model

Base model

Here you can see that the hood-mounted tachometer, which needs to stay close to the windshield so the driver can read it, disappears behind the spare on the stretched fender. I’ve also lengthened and slightly deepened the profile of the scoop. Finally, I pulled in the bottom corner of the prow to give it a more aggressive profile.

Comparison of base and stretched front ends.

Comparison of base and stretched front ends.

As I didn’t want the modified car to look cartoonishly long, I decided to pull in the trunk section. This then prompted me to remove the swooping rear roof line. Rather than a simple straight rear edge, I decided to replace it with a “reverse rake” inspired by the famous Ford Anglia 105E design.

Comparison of base and shortened trunk sections.

Comparison of base and shortened trunk sections.

And here is, as they say in The Lego Movie, “The Piece of Resistance”: The fender-mounted spare. This is inspired by similar mountings seen on vintage vehicles such as Cadillacs and Packards. For the modified photo idea mentioned at the top of this article, I was simply going to do a copy-&-paste of a tire; I had no thoughts about trying to create a shroud. But I chose to shroud the spare here because I think it does make the vehicle a little classier.

I originally had a single curve dropping from the upper edge of the shroud to the lower edge. While the double curve may seem more artistic (I hope), its actual purpose is simply to reveal more of the hub.

“Upscale” spare and shroud.

An unexpected result of the modification is its apparent length. The GTOooh‘s low, sweeping curves create the optical illusion that the car is longer than it really is, even with the pulled-in trunk. Actually, it’s less than a foot longer. The GTO is 200.50″ inches long; the stretched mod is 209.46″, a mere 8.96″ difference.

Illustrated: Parallel parking now just *slightly* more difficult.

Illustrated: Parallel parking now just *slightly* more difficult.

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