IDEA MotorCar Wants to Make Designing Your Own Car Easy

IDEA motor car

Jamie Dunst has a great idea for a dream car. He wants to sell you his idea, in fact, as something he calls the “IDEA MotorCar”. Here’s the thing, though: he doesn’t want to sell you his ideal dream machine, he wants to sell you yours.

“I usually have a hard time explaining it to people,” Jamie told me over Skype last week. “‘It’s like an Ertl model or a Lego kit for adults,’ is what I usually tell them. Sometimes I tell them it’s like an Automoblox set or a blank canvas. The IDEA is like the foundation, that center part that they build their design on.”

The IDEA is a tubular backbone chassis made from aircraft-quality stainless steel. In addition to a fully-adjustable inboard suspension and steering system from Heidts, the chassis is ready to ship with a 2-passenger “center section” that is fully weatherproof and can be pre-wired to accept a variety of internal components (instrument clusters, HVAC controls, etc.). The door mechanisms are fully engineered and functional, and ready to accept a “skin” that goes with the exterior design of the customer’s car. “I wanted the IDEA to take care of all the heavy lifting – all of the ‘hard parts’ of designing a car.

On a CAD screen, the IDEA center section looks like this …


… and the first IDEA MotorCar “proof-of-concept” prototypes are already starting to come together in Jamie’s highly respected New England garage.

Did I say “highly respected”? You’re f***ing right, I did – and, if you ever lined up alongside one of his R-Motorsports built Divas at a Run n’ Gun event in the late 90s, you already know who Jamie is and why you should take the IDEA seriously. For the uninitiated, though, this is a Diva speedster.

R Motorsports Diva Speedster

If it looks familiar, that’s because it takes some classic hot-rod styling themes and applies them to a Lotus/Caterham 7 style chassis. It’s pretty faithful to that car’s low-mass means to high velocity, but instead of ever tinier, higher-revving engines, he stuffed the 7’s bonnet hood full of big, American V8.

I can already hear you asking. “Why would you feature a big-engine, V8-powered car from the 90s on Gas2?”

That’s the point of Jamie’s IDEA. It’s not his idea of what a car should be that he’s selling. It’s YOURS. If you think the answer is 900 combined horsepower from a high-torque electric motors is the way forward, the IDEA wants to know if you want to mount the motors in the front, behind the passengers, or in the wheels. If you want an ethanol-fueled, twin-turbocharged V6, Jamie will go over the pros and cons of where to mount the thing with you. Natural gas? IDEA will help you build it. Kerosene? Not a problem.

With 3D printing taking off and the cost of accurate, symmetrical pieces to pull molds from (or parts from!), you can lay out your dream car’s “hardpoints” in CAD, have it built by Jamie’s crew, and shipped to the body shop of your choice. Or, Jamie can source the body parts for you – it’s not like he isn’t used to building 1-off cars for 1-off clients. “The original idea for the Diva was to do one basic design,” he said in the same Skype call. “But I never built 2 that were the same. Some people wanted different lights or interior. I think the IDEA will follow the same pattern. We’ll have a few basic designs and people will build off of that.”

To “get the ball rolling”, as it were, Jamie wanted to get some sketches up online and see which direction his friends thought he should go. “I included the pickup version as a joke for a guy here, locally,” he explained, “but the results were huge. It was at least 20:1 in favor of the pickup against a more traditional sportscar.”

To emphasize the flexibility of his SCA (what Jamie insists on calling the chassis … which stands for something that I didn’t write down), Jamie is building the first IDEA, the sporty pickup model shown in the illustrations, with an AWD Ecoboost driveline from one of Ford’s Taurus SHO sedans. The bodywork will be a “front/rear clamshell design”, for easy access to all the car’s hardware, plumbing, and electrical components.

Expect the first IDEAs to hit the road sometime next spring.


Source | Photos: IDEA MotorCar.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.