LSV Con­cept Car: A Mid-en­gine Spin on Four-wheel Drive

Four Wheeler - - Trail’s End - BY JERED KORFHAGE JERED.KORFHAGE@FOURWHEELER.COM PHO­TOS: FOUR WHEELER AR­CHIVES

->“THE RIG PUT A 90-DE­GREE SPIN ON A TYP­I­CAL FWD TRANS­MIS­SION AND SHOWED WHAT COULD BE AC­COM­PLISHED WITH SOME IN­GE­NU­ITY AND TRANSAXLE GEAR RE­DUC­TION.”

Con­cept ve­hi­cles are ex­cit­ing for both sides of the au­to­mo­tive com­mu­nity. Man­u­fac­tur­ers get a chance to bring plat­forms to life show­cas­ing prospec­tive new tech­nol­ogy while us con­sumers get to sit back and watch the pa­rade, left won­der­ing which of these cre­ations will make it to the assem­bly line. Back in 1990, C&C In­cor­po­rated of Brighton, Michi­gan, in­tro­duced a 4x4 not much dif­fer­ent in size from a Suzuki Side­kick or a Geo Tracker. The spritely lit­tle rig was called the Lifestyle Ve­hi­cle (LSV) and mea­sured 140 inches long, a hair over 6 feet wide, and could fit a stan­dard golf cart within its 91-inch wheel­base.

The LSV fea­tured stylish tube bumpers, 15-inch wheels, Miche­lin all-ter­rain tires, and with ure­thane body pan­els, the LSV was not only re­sis­tant to rust, but could bounce back from mi­nor dings and dents with­out as much as a blem­ish to the paint. For more of an open-air ride, the win­dows and fiber­glass roof of the LSV could be re­moved in un­der four min­utes. How­ever, none of these qual­i­ties are what sep­a­rates the LSV from other 4x4s of the pe­riod.

The LSV’S driv­e­train was a four-wheel-drive sys­tem patented by ASHA Cor­po­ra­tion in Santa Bar­bara, Cal­i­for­nia, and be­gan with a four-cylin­der en­gine taken from a front-wheeldrive ve­hi­cle. The en­gine was mounted amid­ships and was ro­tated 90 de­grees, point­ing its half­shafts to­ward the front and rear dif­fer­en­tials in­stead of at the typ­i­cal front-drive wheels. The dif­fer­en­tials were a mere 7 inches in di­am­e­ter and housed a seem­ingly in­signif­i­cant 1.5:1 re­duc­tion gear, which was in fact suf­fi­cient due to the fi­nal drive re­duc­tion of the transaxle. The pint-sized dif­fer­en­tials left space for longer A-arms and Macpher­son struts in each corner that gave the LSV 10-11 inches of sus­pen­sion travel at each corner. With a five-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion, the LSV was said to get up to 88 mph while car­ry­ing a pay­load of 19.2 gal­lons of fuel.

To our dis­may, the LSV has not be­come a sta­ple of the off-road com­mu­nity, but it does leave us think­ing about mid-en­gine set­ups and off-road­ing with­out a trans­fer case. A mi­dengine setup cen­ters the en­gine weight that would nor­mally hover over the front axle, or the rear axle in a rear-en­gine con­fig­u­ra­tion. Why don’t we see many en­gines mounted this way? With the ex­cep­tion of high-end sports cars, many folks would rather have space for pas­sen­gers in the ve­hi­cle’s cen­ter rather than the pow­er­plant.

Does this make the LSV a fail­ure? Not at all. The rig put a 90-de­gree spin on a typ­i­cal FWD trans­mis­sion and showed what could be ac­com­plished with some in­ge­nu­ity and transaxle gear re­duc­tion. The real twist here is that the in­ten­tion of the LSV might not have been to “wow” four-wheel­ers with mid-en­gine, 4WD franken­magic. In­stead, David L. Draper of C&C In­cor­po­rated ap­peared to be more in­ter­ested in show­cas­ing his for­ays into re­tractable ve­hi­cle sun­shades and af­ter­mar­ket glove­boxes.

Where does this leave us? Those of us not flock­ing to the garage to try and mount a Honda Civic mo­tor be­hind the driver seat of the week­end wheel­ing rig are left to an­tic­i­pate the next batch of con­cept ve­hi­cles. Per­haps a con­cept of yes­ter­year will take form on the mar­ket! Af­ter all, the reimag­ined Ram Power Wagon we know to­day was still in con­cept form back in 1999.

Is there a bizarre con­cept ve­hi­cle you wish would have made its way to mar­ket? Per­haps you saw the LSV in the flesh back in the ’90s. Shoot us a mes­sage at ed­i­tor@fourwheeler. com and let us know. Re­mem­ber to in­clude high-res­o­lu­tion im­ages of any mid-en­gine con­cept rigs you may have in your col­lec­tion!

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