In Detail: Minddrive

Minddrive isn't a car that you drive with your mind--it's actually better than that. Minddrive is an after school program for urban kids in the Kansas City area. It started out as a class project with a focus on designing new car shapes. After the kids kept asking to do a real car, Steve Rees (the coolest teacher around) made it happen. And the results were fantastic. How does 300 MPGe sound? Not bad for a group of high schoolers. Project Lola, the car shown above and in our episode, was Minddrive's first vehicle, based off a 2000 Lola Indy chassis. And, as you can hear in the episode, it even sounds something like an Indy car, despite its all-electric powertrain.

The project isn't just about building cars, either. The students in the program get real industry experience and learn about product planning, brand image and marketing. Because of the car's wildly futuristic looks, it gets a lot of attention, and Minddrive's mentors want the team to act as ambassadors to their brand and share information about the program. Students even run their own blog, detailing events and design challenges.

In addition to providing a "feel good" story and an impressive MPGe rating, Project Lola is an exhilarating drive as well. While the 0-60 speed is only 12 seconds, the car's torquey electric motors, low ride height and low weight make for an thrilling drive experience--adding up to what Bradley calls a "nice feel."

You may be wondering how they came up with the clear skin for the body. The answer is easy enough: they laid down plastic sheets (like the ones used to insulate home windows) over the wireframe and used heat to shrink the plastic to fit around the skeleton. This process yields lighter weight and more accurate aerodynamics than if they were to use sheet metal. And, most important, it looks cool.

After great success at Bridgestone's Texas Proving Ground, where they achieved 300 MPGe, Minddrive has started another car. And, using what they learned from sweet Lola they are making Project Reynard even better. We'll be keeping close eye on the group and will let you know how they do.

Click the image below to watch TRANSLOGIC 78: Minddrive:

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