Should We Be Driving Wider, Shorter Cars?

I’m of the opinion that our cars should be wide enoiugh to put 3 people per seat row. A shorter wheelbase would also make cars easier to handle in confined spaces, and the shorter wheelbase would also make them more resistant to flexing-fewer rattles and squeeks. Have any makers expeimented with wider track designs like this? Seems like agood way to make smaller cars more appealing.

Like this? :wink:

Such a design would give less room in front to decelerate in a collision, 3 across seating, which some cars have, also makes the middle seat somewhat undesariable. Aerodynamically it would be better to make a one seat across car, with the other seats directly behind it instead of 3 across.

So would we be better off driving long, thin, one-abreast cars? Genuine question, I’m curious.

or this.

I LOVED those cars-only problem-it wasn’t FWD-so you had a very large driveshaft hump in the middle. The Pacer was supposed to be powered by a rotary engine (WANKEL)-lie the MAZDA. If that had worked, we would see AMC around today.

That car has either a buddha belly or a double chin; I’m not sure which.

The reason we don’t make cars wider than they are is because roads aren’t going to get any wider. In the US anyway, there are a not insignificant number of lanes out there that are only striped 10ft wide (and the upper end is generally only 12’). Currently cars take up only a little more than 2/3s of a 12ft lane, but it doesn’t really feel that way, does it? If all the cars were wider, especially wide enough to comfortably seat three adults side-to-side, then you’d be lucky to have a foot of wiggle room in a 12ft lane, and just forget it on 10ft wide roads. The incidence of side-to-side and corner-to-corner-head-on collisions would increase dramatically.

Overly long, skinny cars would be harder to turn properly; that’s why truck drivers and bus drivers have to take classes. Also they’re not as efficent or versatile a use of space; the further you are from a sphere or roughly square rectangular solid, the less internal space you get per square foot of surface area, and the harder it is to stick a card table across the back seats.

Looks like one of those concept cars that never see the light of day, doesn’t it? (it isn’t)

Matra-Simca Bagheera

Sorry for the tiny picture, but yep, a serious rally car that seated 3 across.
Later models have 2 seats.

AS to that dream car thread? A 74 MS Bag, fully restored - body by Rinspeed and powerplant and fine tuning by Carroll Shelby

I saw a custom rinspeed in Germany when I was there last time, I swear the paint job was an irridescent blue/green/brown that made the whole car colorshift like a perfect peacock feather. Absolutely amazing to see gently strolling past me at some 180KM/H or so. Made me feel like i was parked. When I got a chance to check it out at a benzin station, it was amazing. That is how I found out about Rinspeed. I have been drooling ever since. I have never seen any custom paitwork to compare in the US.

Aside from the other problems mentioned already:

  • Drag. Wide vehicles present more cross-section to the relative wind, which makes them more draggy than thin narrow vehicles.

  • Ride. Longer wheelbase cars ride better. Shorter cars have more of a see-saw motion as the front wheels and back wheels go over bumps and hit potholes. A longer vehicle gives the front suspension more time to recover before the back suspension comes into play.

  • Ease of entry. How do you get the third or fourth person into the vehicle? Putting a third passenger in the middle works okay for children who can scamper in and out of the vehicle like rabbits, but Grandma won’t like it much.

  • Packaging. You’ve got to put an engine and transmission somewhere. It’s going to be in front of you or behind you. So the only place to reduce length is to take the back seats out and put them in front, seating four abreast. But that’s very inefficient, because now you’ve got big gaps around your engine in the front. You’d wind up having to build in lockers for luggage on each side of the engine or something.

I’m not seeing the advantages, either. Easier to handle in confined spaces? I don’t know… Trying to manoever a wide vehicle is not easy. Parking efficiency? Around here, most parking spaces are angle parking. A wide car uses up MORE space than a narrow one. There’s generally plenty of room in the length department - it’s width that’s always tight.

You’d also turn every 2-car garage in the country into a one-car garage, and make many suburban streets nearly impassible if there is oncoming traffic.

It is in production; it’s the Fiat Multipla. But they restyled it some years ago and now its looks are more conservative.

Here’s another 6 seater, made by Honda:

There is a picture gallery so you can get some idea of the layout. There are a few of them around, I’ve been a passenger in one.

Long wheelbase cars are a joy to drive. My grampa’s 60’s Cadillacs rode like limosines. I also used to drive a short wide truck for the post office. All right, it was also high, but still it was like riding a buckboard on a ranch dirt road.