Creating a Star Wars Landspeeder for Highway Use

psychosteveo

New Member
Hello RPF, I'm SteveO, first-time poster here.

I am helping a friend on a project that we have called The Landspeeder Project. Yes, there have been several different Landspeeders that I have seen pass through these Forums on RPF, but we hope to have this one a little different. The goal is to build a 1-to-1 replica of the Star Wars Landspeeder, but to make it street-legal. That's right, we are looking to create a screen-accurate, highway-ready, DOT-legal, safe, and (most importantly) FAST model of this vehicle.

A little background, Eric (the master builder) is not unfamiliar to making unusual vehicles. He has been a custom mechanic for decades with his company, Very Wild Car Company (VWCC). One of his bigger projects to date has been his Coffin Car. Yes, a car that was built right into a coffin. Check out the video here. :thumbsup

One of the biggest reasons he is looking to create this landspeeder is because it is so different. People in the past have used golf-cart chassis, electric motors, and sometimes have used only cardboard for the exterior. However, there would be nothing better in my mind than seeing this baby drive down the highway. The engine, not electric, will be from a Porche 914. The body will be fiberglass and painted with high-quality automotive paint. Care has gone into the project to ensure that every detail from the movie is adhered to. And yes, it will even have air-ride suspension to give the appearance of levitation. The low-profile of the vehicle and configuration will obstruct the wheel base, so the fellow highway driver won't even be able to see the treads.

Right now, we are continuing our efforts towards funding and publicizing the project. We are accepting Kickstarter funds, but that is not the reason why I am posting here. It is important to us that we make this project known. Some people may want to donate, while others may like to follow our status. We would like more people to join the Facebook page, share the project, and (hopefully) reach the right people that may want to help fund this project. We are also looking to you, the craft community, to weigh in on suggestions, advice, and tips on the project. When this project is done, we are planning to take it out-on-tour, and we know that many of you may want to see this.

So please, contribute some feedback, watch our video, join our Facebook page, share with interested friends, and even donate if you are so inclined. It is our hope that we can show this vehicle off to fans, put smiles on people's faces, and go really fast in a really cool vehicle. Thanks all! :)

http://www.facebook.com/thelandspeederproject
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1655991031/the-landspeeder-project
 
One thing that I'd like to ask the community is what would you want to see in a landspeeder that is different than others? Our primary focus is on speed, but we want to have a full model with possibly new electronics. One suggestion we have had is to replace conventional gauges with a tablet that has live-data from the engine and system. Another thought was adding "after-burner" torches into the 3 turbines, allowing for the blue flame from the movie. Because this project is not yet built, the sky is the limit.

What are additions that you guys may want to see? That you would put in it if it were your project? The more ideas, the better! Thanks everyone!
 
Another thought was adding "after-burner" torches into the 3 turbines, allowing for the blue flame from the movie.

i'm not sure about dot laws there, but i'd think afterburners would make it hard to get road legal. it's interesting you're going three wheeler, which should help with the floating look of the speeder. i suppose so long as it's fairly screen accurate, i'll be taking happy snaps of it.
 
i'm not sure about dot laws there, but i'd think afterburners would make it hard to get road legal. it's interesting you're going three wheeler, which should help with the floating look of the speeder. i suppose so long as it's fairly screen accurate, i'll be taking happy snaps of it.

Well noted, KruleWorld. Any flame kit (as noted may or may not be apart of the build) would be for decorative purposes and not for when the car is being occupied. We're just looking for some opinions that may help us custom tailor the car to what people want to see, while best trying to maintain screen accuracy of the overall build. Thanks for your input!
 
We had one here in PC, Fl it was red and ended up being donated to our local police dept. I tried to aquire it, but an officer bought it. It was built on a Ford Escort chassis, lights were hidden in the grill trim in front and in the jet housings in the back. I will search and see if I still have pics of it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
I was working on the rear suspension of my speeder this evening and had it up on jack stands just inside the hanger door. In less than 30 minutes at least 10 cars stopped to take pictures and talk about it. I don't usually park it such that it's so viewable from the road because so many people love to come look and want to talk about it. I like it, but it sure can interrupt a work day. Be careful of what you ask for. These things are huge magnets.
 
Good luck on the project...Having been heavily involved in one of the more successful landspeeder builds, I know exactly what kind of project you are undertaking. :)

One question...Are you going for completely screen accurate in the overall size/scale? Because the speeder as seen on screen is SMALL...Much smaller than people think it is. I always thought that if someone really wanted to try to build a street legal version, they would probably want to scale it up a bit...For safety concerns at least.

If you did consider scaling up, don't scale too much though as it would then make it too wide with the engine pods on!

I look forward to seeing your progress.

Jason
 
Speaking as someone who is currently building a 1:1 scale speeder like nothing ever made before (based off the Lego "Mandalorian Speeder", and "Burik'alor Speeder" from TCW), you may want to look into using a smaller vehicle frame as your base...if not build your own frame. I'm not shooting for street-legal with my production, but as NC has very few vehicle equipment laws for street legal status...it wouldn't take much. :)

2014-12-14 17.22.44.jpg
 
I would be a bit worried about it being a 3 wheel design, particularly for high speed use. The Reliant Robin 3 wheeler was notorious for rolling over when turning at speed.
I think a 4 wheeled version would be a safer choice for freeway driving.
 
I would be a bit worried about it being a 3 wheel design, particularly for high speed use. The Reliant Robin 3 wheeler was notorious for rolling over when turning at speed.
I think a 4 wheeled version would be a safer choice for freeway driving.

Yes, the three wheel design for authenticity sake would be appealing, but at high speeds it gets twitchy quickly. Our speeder is geared with a 5:1 drive ratio from the 7.5KW (10HP), 48V motor that gives a top end speed of 35 miles per hour on the 18" tires. The fastest we've been willing to run it here on the airport runway has been about 29 MPH before I was wishing that I had strapped on a full face helmet. The steering is smooth in a straight line but if I'd had to make a quick evasive maneuver I'd hate to think how it would have nose dived. Eventually we will run it up to full speed, but I'll wait till we have some seat belt restraints and wearing some more protective clothing and helmet. According to the Alltrax on board computer monitoring software we were only at about 65% throttle to go 29 MPH. Motor amps peaked at 146 amps, mostly at the start acceleration. Once rolling, Amps dropped into the 50 range to maintain the 25 MPH test speed.

I'm attaching a short I-phone movie file of the test run. First time attaching so see if it works. If it does not, please someone tell me the proper way to post it.

View attachment LAND SPEEDER FAST TEST.MOV
 
A few thoughts on this:


1. Consider enlarging the size very noticeably, and distorting the dimensions a bit, for practical reasons. The original is a go-kart by American highway standards and the side engines stick out pretty far for the shape.

2. You won't drive that thing very far in the real world before you start needing a way to close up & lock the interior. Lap seatbelts alone are better than nothing but you'd want a shoulder belt too. Some kind of windshield wiper might be required for legality depending on the place. You will also start wanting some kind of "trunk" storage area too, which should be lockable without having to employ the major close-it-up method (which kills the screen-accurate appearance). It doesn't need to be a big trunk but you'll want more than a glovebox. There is no point making it street legal if you cannot let it out of your sight for 2 minutes in public. Sooner or later you have to fill up the gas tank & go to the bathroom.


3. The flaming engines on the back, and the hovering effect, are HUGE for making the "wow" factor work. That's what makes it stand out. We've all seen weird custom cars and we've all seen Star Wars props. Whatever ideas you can come up with to help sell those two things, don't hold back on them for the sake of investing in any other kind of accuracy. Other people have built visually accurate landspeeders before and they aren't highway-legal & safe. You are probably going to have to compromise the nut & bolt accuracy of this compared to that kind of build, so I would vote to make that work in your favor and try to offer more of what a strict replica cannot.


4. You may find that the best option is for this thing to have a series of transforming settings, for low-speed or hi-speed. The demands of those two usages are widely different. I'm picturing a low-speed setting with more accuracy, perhaps riding lower to the ground, etc. The hi-speed streetable setting would uncover some necessary running lights, have the suspension raised up several more inches, maybe bring the windshield up higher in front of the occupants, change over to a regular steering wheel, etc.


5. If you want this thing crashworthy & safe, that means 4 wheels and a decent tube chassis running underneath the whole shape. What if a truck/SUV rear-ends the speeder in traffic - is that high middle engine gonna break right off & whack the occupants in the head? You need the basic shape of that thing to be made of strong metal and the pieces of the exterior all need to be attached securely. The center engine pod needs to be strong, particularly the support and the front half of the engine. (Picture a single-hoop rollbar behind a driver's head on a little convertible sports car. You get the idea.) The side engine pods need to be firmly attached too, but they could be made a bit more "collapsible" as crumple-zone space during a side impact. As for the main body, the center passenger cabin needs to be very strong but the front end of the nose should be a step weaker.


6. The suspension needs to do more than raise up & down a few inches. It also needs to have geometry & spring/shock/sway rates that are tolerable to make the thing safe. The weight balance & center of gravity of your final product may be wildly different from the donor vehicle. Lots of custom cars have suspensions built with 500 man-hours spent on looking cool and 5 minutes thought given to drivability. It's not a good plan. BTW, if the adjustable up & down height settings are widely different then you are going to have to compromise on what the ideal handling height is. Focus on making sure it's safe in the higher setting. That is where you will likely be doing most of the higher-speed driving.
 
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I haven't taken the one we built much over 15, it gets real twitchy in turns at speed, just like TX armory said and its allot smaller than everyone thinks. I just did a parade and had to drive it 2.5 miles back through the streets of Baltimore unescorted, it was a blast. It would definetly be cool to just hop in and cruise in.
 

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