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MidLana

Details the on-going design and construction of a from-scratch, home-built successor to Kimini.

Not better - simpler and different.

"Midlana, Second Edition is now available!

Includes full plans and instructions on how to build your own Midlana

Coil-bound and Perfect-bound

My first book, Kimini, covers general mid-engine sports car design
Click here for more information.

 

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Midlana is a two-seat open-top car utilizing a modern FWD drivetrain mounted mid-engine. The reasons to go mid-engine are many; the most obvious being that front-engine rear-drive drivetrains are becoming scarce. Other features include:

    • Far more drivetrain choices due to overwhelming availability of FWD drivetrains.

    • Exhaust isn't around to cook your feet, melt brake master cylinders, or foul the steering shaft.

    • You won’t go deaf with the exhaust next to your ear.

    • No mufflers on the sides of the car. Cobra-type side mufflers are often too loud and a quiet car is becoming a requirement as more and more tracks.

    • A rearward weight bias helps acceleration and braking by increasing rear traction.

    • You have actual leg room! No tiny hot narrow foot wells or having to drive barefoot.

    • You and your passenger won’t burn the back of your legs on the exhaust while getting out.

    • Independent rear suspension gives a smooth ride on the street and excellent camber control on-track.

    • No driveshaft between the seats means the center tunnel is much narrower, allowing more seat room without building a wider chassis, which saves weight.

    • You don't have to reverse-engineer a FWD engine into a rear-wheel drive arrangement - it's used as-is.

    • With less weight on the front tires, steering effort is lighter than a front-engine layout.

    • Many builders are already familiar with FWD drivetrains, allowing engine familiarity to transfer straight across instead of being forced to use an engine you don't want.

    • Without the engine up front, the area is properly triangulated, greatly increasing torsional rigidity.

    • The oil pan does not hang down below the frame rails, threatening to be removed by speed bumps.

    • With no engine up front, a storage space is created.

    • With the engine behind the driver, engine torque does not deform the chassis.

    • Minimum composite; inexpensive off-the-shelf parts are used instead of making them yourself, or spending $$$$ to buy a shell.

    • Miata suspension is used, avoiding machining or extra fabrication, saving time and money.

    • Excellent chassis stiffness due to the large chassis cross-section.

    • The driver and passenger are surrounded by a integral roll-cage, not a bolted-on afterthought.

    • Side sills are higher than a Locost, providing much-improved side-impact protection.

    • Not having doors save weight, money, lots of time and frustration.

    • Two seats — because these things must be shared.

    • A Miata steering rack is used unmodified which avoids modifications that many builders dread.

    • Rocks kicked up by the front tires cannot bounce off a tube and hit you in the nuts (a true story related by an unhappy owner of a popular open-frame sports car.)

    • Rocks and autocross cones cannot damage the rear fenders thanks to the side inlets doubling as bumper bars and rear fender protection.

    • No center-mounted plenum over the engine blocking rear visibility.

    • A gas tank located in the safest area of the car, ahead of the drivetrain and behind the seats.

    • Because the gas tank is at the CG, handling is unaffected by fuel load.

    • A locking storage area.

    • A free heater which uses radiator exhaust air.

    • Options for side curtains and roof.

    • Light weight, ~1500 pounds, depending upon drivetrain.

    • Did I mention that you can use nearly any four-cylinder or small V6 FWD drivetrain?

The name:

MidLana? "Mid" because it's mid-engine, and "Lana" is our granddaughter's name. It sounds a bit like "Katana", a Japanese sword, and since both this car and Lana are part Japanese, it fits. I like the sound of it and it's unique on the Interweb, so there you go.

Designing and building Kimini taught me a lot. Kimini was very good at what she did, as close to a "real car" as I'll probably ever build; a coupe, fairly quiet, keeping out the wind, dust, and rain, but it came at a high price in terms of work, weight, time, and money. I learned the importance of keeping things simple and easy to maintain. However, THE main thing I want to avoid in the next project is the composite work. Ugh! So much work, hundreds of hours, very expensive, messy, and hazardous. And that wasn't the worst of it. It was the surprising realization that after Kimini was done, I was afraid to expose her to the harsh environment of the track.

Yes, that's right, I couldn't help but hold back, scared to damage the oh-so-expensive composite, worried about the time and money it would take to fix her. I thought, if I did it again, it would be simpler, easier, and simpler to build, easier to maintain, cheaper, and lighter. Midlana a second attempt at what I wanted in the first place, a low-cost trackday car - one that I don't have to worry about. Kimini was almost too good at what she did, due to the expensive composite body shell. Yes it keeps out the dust, wind, and rain, but I worried too much about damaging it. I know people will say, "Eh, get over it, just get out there and drive it hard." Yeah well, I also knew they wouldn't be around to help repair it if anything happened! Then there's the hot Southern California summers, where having a car with sliding windows and no air conditioning means its very uncomfortable, enough that I didn't drive it as much as I would have liked - that wasn't the intent at all.

Round two means building something more "sturdy" for the track, where it's designed such that if a rock get's kicked up and hits it, I can honestly shrug my shoulders and most importantly, it'll require little to no repair. I want it dead-reliable like Kimini, where I pull off the track and go get a drink, rather than what many drivers do, lift the hood to see "what's wrong now?" after coming into the pits.

This is why Midlana uses minimum composite and doesn't have a roof or doors. Not as refined, more elemental, and simpler (though there are options.) In other words, easier and faster to build and not as expensive. Midlana also looks enough like a Lotus Seven to retain some of that elemental sports car look from the 1960's - something I like. Sound like something you'd be interested in? Click on the above links to see if building a Midlana is something you'd like to do!