Gryphon Gear: Rare Beasts of the Track (SEEKING DESIGNER TO COLLAB)

**[size=200]I[/size]**t is a guilty pleasure, bordering lustful sin to covet speed at the expense of everything else, like we once used to. The madness of the 1000hp F1 cars of the 80s and terrifying legends of Group B rally died in the same fiery carnage as many of its drivers, compelling a new era of safety and moderation. Starting at the very top of automotive competition, with increasingly stringent displacement restrictions in F1, and the convoluted concept of “loan-per-lap” energy allotment in Le Mans, efficiency is the watchword of the new century.

Far be it from my intention to decry environmental conscientiousness. A world that focuses on wasting the least, and giving back the most is one that I would like to see nurturing our future. And yet undeniably, this utilitarian conservationism flies in the face of what one might consider an innate yearning for the extreme, the fantastical, even the mythical.

Here, then, is the place where the impractical dreams of our nostalgia are not only relived, but born anew. Gryphon Gear may bear strong resemblance to the proliferation of small independent tuning houses that share its vision, but here, that vision is epitomised. Over thousands of hours, our race-tuned cars are crafted piece by piece, to emerge as unique grassroots paragons of power and speed. Eight second quarter miles are not just a goal, they are a mandate. So too, is having more downforce than the Hands of God, and handling that melts your face and crushes you into your bucket seat. Everything here is wild and unhinged, beckoning the foolhardy with the bellowing war cries of ten liter engines and trumpeting tubular exhausts.

There is nothing in the way of tricks, gimmicks, or newfangled concepts here; only the four-wheeled monsters, and the legends of those who seek to conquer them.


[size=200]E[/size]very model starts with an inspiration. Here, it would not be difficult to deduce the inspiration was in fact a certain dragon from a certain Dreamworks film of recent years. With initial sketches I hoped to capture the unique blend of its curious nature, but more so its immense fighting ability. Because of the frame I selected, there was a certain contrast between the sleek curves of the dragon, and the blocky angles that I sought to reconcile with personality. If you look closely enough, you may spot even a little Audi Quattro of Group B fame in it.

With a pointed monocoque body slung low between four broad, sturdy wheels, it resembles every bit its namesake. This is a car built to race, or moreso to devour its opponents with its ferocity, so I sought to emulate that aesthetic in the vents and grilles.

You may notice this forming a trend across certain platforms, as it is part of the design language I’ve taken up with the older frames. In actual fact I would have left the main grille clearer (you will see what I mean in the upcoming presentation on the Genesis series, reminiscent of a certain aesthetic of classic American Muscle), yet in this case, I chose to accentuate the features, in contrast with this model’s predecessor, the Harbinger (shown below):

The model, with its blend of angular wedges and curves, sat lower and wider than I imagined, even beyond the flare of the chassis itself, came the flare of the wheel arches, housing rear wheels an incredible 325mm wide… not unlike the powerful shoulders and haunches of a dragon unparalleled in its ability not only to fly but to run, climb and leap.

…and another angle to demonstrate the model’s elongated silhouette…

The aggressive look culminates in the wide rear end with the giant rear wing and diffuser setup. When it came to the tail light array, I opted for a less is more approach, so as to accentuate the blocky lines and the sheer width of the chassis.

Zooming in on the tail lights, it becomes clearer that this is a very narrow LED array of just two rows of piercing light, like narrowed eyes glaring at pursuers. Yet with a 100-0km/h stopping distance of just 24.1m, it would be but a brief taunt, before vanishing from view once more.

So much for the aesthetics; now to the mechanics. No car would do such a name as “Nightfury” justice unless it was the fastest, the most agile, and the most terrifying, so this car is simply that. Throwing any notion of restraint to the wind, I had no hesitation in selecting the most unhinged engine I could fit into the bay, the no-holds-barred 10.9L NA V8 I affectionally dubbed Big Bertha:

This engine threw every caution to the wind. Were a company to attempt to produce more than a handful of these a year, it would surely go bankrupt, so this monstrous block is reserved only for the grandest follies, the loftiest flights of fancy, the rarest of the rare, such as the Nightfury. The car itself, more a test prototype only driven by the bravest, most battle hardened of test drivers and racers, was stripped and tuned to a knife edge, to the point where it could, and would viciously squash you into your superlight bucket seat any which way you braked, accelerated, or turned. 1175.8kw of power coursing through the hardiest of transmissions translated to nearly 1100 of those kilowatts to each of the four wheels.

The statistics I show you next, represent the culmination of our exploration of the limit* of Automation.

Here you have it, the current king of the test tracks. With official times around Airfield in 1:03.2*, Automation Test track in 1:53.5*, and an unofficial claim around the Green Hell in 6:15.9*, this is truly the car to be reckoned with. What is even more remarkable is that a Track Day Special extra limited run edition is being considered for sale to track day enthusiasts, given the competitiveness of this model, and even with the maximum safety features added, tyres downgraded, and the engine detuned to slash emissions, accept 98RON and a much less time-intensive exhaust system, the Nightfury TDS will still blow away any other production car (and even most race cars!) around the track and can still clear a speed hump. (Personally I would never use a Nightfury TDS as a daily drive though as it’s still tuned to guzzle 30L/100km and do an 8.9s quarter mile.)

[size=85]*note: these stats were generated using an exploit of a known bug regarding aerodynamic fixtures, so these values may yet change once a fix is made in the next major release.[/size]

You may have noticed that this car uses a full complement of driving aids (minus Launch Control, because that’s worse than useless with an AWD that’ll take you from 0-100km/h in 2.1s anyway). As always, there is an option to switch them off (my preferred way to drive), but should you be tempted to do so, consider that this car is 2.5 times more powerful than a Porsche Carrera GT, the car that legendary driver Walter Rorhl once commented needed two traction controls, one for the dry, and one for the wet.

One may train a Nightfury, but it will always retain its ferocity. Such a creature commands reverence, for it is the only of its kind, and while exhilarating, if not treated with due respect, will be the last thing you ever meet.


That was a good thing to mention that your lap times were the result of an exploit, because it stops others ripping you up in replies later :stuck_out_tongue:

And did you design that first picture yourself? Also that sketch of Nightfury is awesome :smiley:

EDIT: Totally agree with sansa93, I love it when people take the time to craft out a detailed back story and actually put some feeling into the cars they design. Well done :smiley:

That was a great read. I loved the back story you made for the car. It made it believable, to me at least. Rather than just seeing another 1000hp car, the lore surrounding it made me stop and think, wow this car is really something. I also like the styling, i think you did a really good job there. I liked the sketch you made of the car as well. Did you freehand it or was there some tracing involved? Not that it matters, just curious.
Anyways, I look forward to your next entry.

Awesome job on that strop! Great concept and presentation :slight_smile:

Wow. This is the most amazing car i ever saw in the Automation forums since 2012 :smiley:

Thanks for the great feedback and high compliments guys. I’m honoured that you’d take the time to leave a comment. I’ll return with another design with a rather different approach in a few days!

All the graphics (that weren’t screencaps from Automation) in this thread are freehand and original (except the text in the header, I guess, that was a downloaded font which I then edited). There’s no tracing, only because I’ve been drawing since I was a kid so I guess somewhere along the way I got a lot of practice :slight_smile:

Amazing car and presentation. And that drawing is soooo cool!



[size=200]F[/size]rom somewhere within the final decade of the last millenium, emerged the fastest growing car market of our present and future: the hatchback. Where many car enthusiasts long scoffed at the idea of bobbly FFs being considered sporting, this economical, convenient city-runabout format has evolved and carved out its own very niche, to the point where production car competition between the various makers is generating considerable excitement among a growing legion of fans. Hot on the heels of the shootout at the pinnacle of supercars, between the McLaren P1, the Porsche 918 and the Ferrari LaFerrari, comes another shootout among the FF hatches.

It is a portent for the future history of cars in this world that observers and buyers alike are responding so strongly to hot hatches, as the market continues to diversify to cater to a range of different tastes and approaches to the point where each competing model could be considered a landmark in their own right. One could go for Germanic precision and excellence in the VW Golf, the benchmark to which all others must be compared [size=85](if not for that clunky PDK transmission issue, thank goodness it seems to be fixed now…)[/size] For an edgier, sportier feel but retaining most of the refinement, one could go with a Renault Megane. If one wanted to go further French (and therefore quirkier for the hell of it), the Citroën DS3 would definitely turn heads (and not burn a hole in your bank balance). Those looking for a more raw drive would be most interested in some of Ford’s less heralded models (yet far more important for the future of the automotive industry, I would argue), the Fiesta and Focus*. Yet for much of the noughties, arguably the biggest seller in the hatch game was the versatile and nimble Mazda3, though perhaps less so its amped-up, steroid abusing cousin the Mazda3 MPS (which, on paper, was faster than an RX-7 FD3S in a straight line, provided you could even hold it in a straight line from all the torque steer!) And while it may perhaps be an odd one out as it is actually FR, BMW’s recent change in direction in the 1 series could be seen, with all the benefit of hindsight, as a brilliant market prediction, for it has garnered critical acclaim and firmly grabbed a slice of the market share.

This list is but a brief summary in a list of more than a dozen major contenders, but surely from this alone the variety is evident.

*[size=70]I live in Australia, so some of the model names here may not be familiar[/size]

It is interesting that I choose to explore this subject here, because it seems to run contrary to the expectations I may have engendered when I opened Gryphon Gear. After all, the reasons for this market’s growth comes from a certain necessity, where enthusiasts of the gas guzzling V8s and larger find themselves increasingly oppressed. That oppression is not merely a social construct, rather it comes from our increasing awareness of the limitations of our environment, a notion of our responsibilities, and the need to cohabit on increasingly congested roads. The very way that we see travel must become more utilitarian. Yet clearly, within the apparent confines of the abandonment of whimsy, is found a new form of freedom, creative expression, and the desire for the extreme. Our human nature prevails ever stronger than before, and in these hatches, I feel, may come great things, for they are not just great in their extremity, but great in their accessibility.

So I turn our attention to the once-unlikely battlegrounds of the hot hatch. The Golf GTI, already legendary in its own right, could be said to be the leader of the noughties revival in the Mk V, and it reigned supreme for some years. Yet naturally, others would follow and perhaps even surpass (though of course the fun here lies in debating that point), such as the Renault Megane RS 265, which held the record for a FF car around Nordschleife. More recently still, Honda, once considered among the royalty of hatch manufacturers with models ranging from the CR-X to the Civic to the Corolla (by which I refer to the AE86, naturally), finally realised how dull and dated its offerings had become. Along with the reboot of the new space-age Honda Civic Vti (of course I would talk about this, I own one!), it made plans to be the first manufacturer to have an FF production car lap Nordschleife in less than 8 minutes with a 285+hp Type R… only to have Spanish carmaker SEAT slap them in the face with the Leon Cupra 280, which did it in 7:58! This also did not escape the notice of Renault, who are, at the time of writing, preparing to exact revenge by retuning their car and hurling it around the track once more in a bid to regain the crown…

It is into this fray that I shall offer this exposition. As you shall discover, what I’ve done here is create a representative (of sorts) FF hatch which I shall describe as “mildly warm”… and then through successive iterations, take it first to the limit of a production car (a real Type R hot hatch), then of a track day hatch (but still okay to drive on the road)… then finally the “Gryphon Gear” version, where the monster within is let loose and tears your face off.

[size=200]L[/size]et’s start with a typical FF 4 seater hatch, though already it’s not all that typical because it’s 3 door, and it’s styled like a 1990 sports coupé. Though it’s a petrol car, one might draw comparison to the hybrid Honda CR-Z (the spiritual successor to the popular CR-X, from which the frame I’m using in this presentation was based). But since the CR-Z isn’t actually one of the hatches in the same market sector that I’m referring to, I’ve built the initial car with a build quality, chassis and specifications and interior trim similar to something in the middle to upper ranges of the hatches, say, approaching but not quite a Golf GTI and priced accordingly. The main difference is: it has a slightly less powerful, but incredibly economical engine.

[size=85]Kind of, um, understated isn’t it…[/size]

In all honesty the main reason I built a hatch like this was because I wanted somewhere to install my maximally economical and relatively inexpensive i4 engine, the uncreatively named Eco4.

[size=85]Witness the power of VTEC and rightsizing![/size]

With a 0-100km/h time of 6.4s, and fuel consumption figures of under 4L/100km (!!!), the name Swift EcoSport seems accurate enough. Performance wise, it’s around the ballpark of the sportier variants of the premium hatches, with reliability and servicing costs to match. Would anybody ever buy one in powder blue? I don’t know…

Naturally I find this model a bit run of the mill, and perhaps a bit identity confused. I don’t think there’d really be space in the market for yet another hatch unless it were to cater to a specific taste that wasn’t already covered by the existing brands, but as a conglomeration of what’s out there, it serves its purpose.

Now let’s spice things up a bit, with an R-spec version. This is where the bulk of the press coverage of the hatch wars lies:

[size=85]Though somebody probably ought to fire the stylist… if the Sky Blue was a bit iffy, the Fuschia is definitely a step in the wrong direction…[/size]

[size=85]Not So Eco now![/size]

Slightly more aggressive styling, very much more aggressive engine, aero package, wheels, suspension and brake setup. The interior also gets a boost (think stitched leather trim and all the Bluetooth, sat nav and reverse camera you can get your hands on), and the safety is upgraded to match the performance. I may have gone overboard with the engine (with in excess of 500hp, compared to the 280-320 found in the more competitive hot hatches nowadays), but the truth is that most of the change is only in a slightly upsized turbo (limited to 1.1bar) and the intake, and the rest was tuning. This is supposed to be the FF production hatch that takes the new record around Nordschleife after all!

[size=85]Take that, SEAT![/size]

Which it does, pretty easily, and on an economy of about 12L/100km at that.

At Gryphon Gear, we aren’t content with that little. Whatever can be improved, will be improved. There’s weight to be stripped (swap the rear seats for a rollcage!), aero to be beefed up, and of course, much more power to be wrung out of the engine. The block didn’t need much changing, but the turbo was replaced with something larger, that spooled later, and delivered far more boost. The whole chassis was rebuilt as a monocoque carbon shell, and bodykit was changed again to keep up with the increased demand on cooling and deliver more downforce than a Pagani Huayra [size=85](and yes, this does mean from this point I’m cheating with the aero, but humour me for now![/size]

[size=85]Now we’re getting warm[/size]

[size=85]I swear this engine has an MBTF of 19261km, it just doesn’t display properly for some reason D:[/size]

The result was a massive 150hp gain, and even more massive shedding of about 450kg, bringing the power:weight ratio to the magical 1:1. The Swift Track Day Special edition packs performance well beyond anything the world has ever offered in a road-going FF; if you’re skilled (and brave) enough, you could more than keep up with even the newest hybrid supercars, lapping Nordschleife under seven minutes. In an FF hatch.

[size=85]Take that, supercars![/size]

I’ll just pause here to let you imagine a boxy little FF hatch going toe to toe with the hybrid supercars that auto journalists are raving on about as the advent of a new era in automotive history.

[size=85]…or not, here’s an artist’s impression I prepared earlier. If I have offended anybody, I apologise for nothing.[/size]

Now for the final step, that takes us into the true realm of Gryphon Gear. If one were not just to create, but to rewrite history, the Swift Windcutter would have been the kind of car that doomed the Group B Rally. It dispenses entirely with the restriction of an i4 turbo, and replaces it with a small block NA V8 which puts out even more power with none of that turbo lag, and happens to be lighter than the Turbo i4. Once the car has been gutted to its absolute minimum and the aero has been tricked out to the absolute maximum, you get a monster car.


[size=85]Hope the devs don’t mind me appropriating the Automation logo as a sponsor decal![/size]

Okay, so that’s just the concept sketch. I was just a bit sad that I couldn’t quite emulate those crazy Group B rally light arrays and livery. Here’s the Automation model:

[size=85]Hope you got balls of steel… because there’s no padding whatsoever in that seat![/size]

[size=85]Imagine the shock on everybody’s faces when they look at your car, expect a turbo 4, then you start it up and they hear a burbling V8 instead[/size]

This car will blow you away. It’ll also blow around Nordschleife in 6:28 (6:32 if you take the aids off, if you dared). As you may have guessed from the styling, I had it in my mind that this car would also be the fastest car (outright) up Pikes Peak, that is to say it’s built to outgun the utterly mad Peugeot 208 T16 driven by Seb Loeb last year. If only we had the track available to us to give it a try… It probably would have been hilarious to watch in a Group B rally, except I’m not sure that 700hp and FF is ever a good idea off-road… But if you’re still reading this you’d know that here we’re not interested in good ideas as we are crazy ones, so there you have it.

As a post-script, I’ll mention that I did do the obvious thing and tried the chassis out with a transverse V8 AWD layout, which allows me the use of a larger engine that puts out about 960kw. Needless to say it makes the car about 1.7% faster, though it also puts on about 400kg from the transformation.

[size=200]F[/size]ront wheel drives may be wholly counterintuitive in the realm of the competitive racing. They’re typically front-engined, meaning a constant challenge to offset the weight bearing down upon the front wheels which have the task of driving AND turning the car. High volume manufacturers have mitigated the handling problems considerably (consider the Mazda6, for example), but they’re still prone to that horrible grindy understeer and front end float if you get on the power too soon exiting a corner. Likewise, the front locks up easily and the back can get rather vague under heavy braking. But all these problems only whet one’s appetite to overcome, to seek and break the limits. The Windcutter epitomises this endeavour in the guise of taking a well established formula and extrapolating it beyond belief.

Or to put it another way, we’ve made the sensible everyday car of the present very, very insensible.

1 Like

Seriously. You are the single BEST ARTIST, I have ever seen (and a damn good writer too :stuck_out_tongue:). That is beautiful :astonished: . I don’t even know what to say… Wow.

[size=85]…or not, here’s an artist’s impression I prepared earlier. If I have offended anybody, I apologise for nothing.[/size][/quote]

Incredible… And your writing is amazing as well.

I love you… full stop (no homo)

Thanks guys… but have you seen some of the stuff out there that people draw? My god it’s a big world.

Maybe one day I’ll reach a level of mastery, but until then, it’s practice!

[size=85]I am quite pleased with the finish of the metallic paint though…[/size]

Edit: LOL Cheeseman, I saw you editing your post to add the no homo.

I thought you would, I forgot to put it in :stuck_out_tongue:

[size=50](would also love to review one of your cars)[/size]

Oh man oh man oh man. This is amazing! Your styling is amazing. I have not looked too much at the specs, because your cars are too awesome! Excellent job Strop!

Wow, even the 3.8 meter FF hatchback from Gryphon Gear is faster than my whole lineup :laughing: :laughing:

This surpasses normal Car Design threads by quite a margin! Excellent work. Would you mind us sharing this on our Facebook page?

Once again Killrob you honour me with that request. By all means, go ahead!

It’s up! :slight_smile: You should see some more people visiting your company page now :stuck_out_tongue:

I’d smash my thumb so it swells up so big I can give you the biggest thumbs up ever given to someone!
Amazing stuff you do man!