Location: Booth 2301
This year, the SAE Mobility History Committee is showcasing and presenting mid-engine vehicle technology at WCX 2020. You’ll be able to experience the evolution of mid-engine vehicles by committee members showing a range of early to modern vehicles, with examples of both rear and front mid-engine layouts. The exhibit will also demonstrate how the mid-engine concept has existed from the earliest days of motoring through today.
History of Mid-Engine Evolution
A mid-engine vehicle today is identified as a vehicle having the engine placement to the rear of the driver, but ahead of the rear axle. However, other mid-engine drivetrain layouts have been produced (mostly at low volume), since the 1900’s. In general terms, engine placement between the front and the rear axles qualifies as a mid-engine vehicle.
Some of the earliest motor vehicles were constructed as mid-engine vehicles, with the engine beneath the floor or front seat, ahead of the rear axle. Over time, front-engine, rear-wheel drive vehicles gained popularity, along with rear-engine, rear-wheel drive and front-engine, front-wheel drive configurations.
The benefits of the mid-engine drivetrain layout in passenger automobiles are primarily weight distribution and handling. The challenges include cooling and packaging; such as, the sacrifice of passenger and cargo space. In today’s market, the mid-engine layout is primarily seen in 2-passenger sports cars.
Historically, car makers involved in racing grasped these benefits with Auto Union leading the way in the mid-1930's. In the 1960's, Colin Chapman and Jack Brabham won races with rear mid-engine Lotus and Cooper entries. Since then, all Formula 1 race cars have been mid-engine.
The History of the Future: Mid-Engine Evolution theme will enlighten visitors regarding the history of mid-engine technology. This is accomplished by showing that mid-engine vehicles have a long history, and have evolved over time into sophisticated, high-performance motor vehicles.