Recreating classic cars is a difficult task and only a few truly capture the original car. One company that is doing an impeccable job with their recreations is P4 by Norwood who creates one of the finest replica cars, the P4 by Norwood. They are currently in the process of creating another replica of the famous Ferrari 330 P4 racecar and Pete Schow was kind enough to document the process for us in monthly segments. Below is Part 1 of the ongoing series. Be sure to look out for Part 2, coming next month.
As each P4 by Norwood is handcrafted one at a time and ordered to spec, the yearlong build process does not begin until the customer places an order. Once the order is in, and the fortunate individual supplies the required deposit, the team pulls the materials sheet and the build process begins. First order of business – the chassis.
While designing the chassis in a 3-dimensional computer aided drafting program, Tim chose to use 4130 chromoly tubing for the frame to provide sound structural rigidity, a perfect choice for a car whose sole purpose is to replicate the driving sensation of the racecar that inspired it. Since the design is stored in a computer aided drafting program each piece of the tubular frame comes pre-cut and is designated with a specific number. And by pre-cut I mean via a CNC machine; certifying any future or replacement pieces meet exact specifications. Remember, this is not only an exercise in art, but also an exercise in precision manufacturing.
In fact, Tim and Bob and the rest of the P4 by Norwood team are so dedicated to the precision of the build process that the chassis assembly does not even begin until each and every piece of chromoly tubing has been accounted for and labeled.
To kick-off the frame assembly Tim prints a rendering of the frame with each of the individual piece labeled and detailing how the pieces fit together for the fabricator. A guide has also been created for assembling the frame; a step that ensures each piece of the chromoly tubing is the proper length and set at the correct angle. As the fabricator connects the tubes to the guide the sections are welded together once alignment and fitment have been verified; quite an engineering feat that removes any guesswork by the fabricator.
The process continues until the front, cockpit, and rear section that will house the drivetrain is a single solid unit. After the complete core of the frame is assembled, the team lowers a Ferrari V-12 from a 575 Maranello mated to a Porsche G50 5sp gearbox into the frame to align engine mounts and validate all clearances are within specifications. The motor is later removed and sent to prep (a process we will detail in a later entry – stay tuned!).
With the frame now complete sans roll bars, attached later in the process, preparation for the suspension components begins. We will pick up here in our next entry and review the process used to create the signature magnesium wheels used on each P4 by Norwood.
4130 Chromoly Tubing used to build the frame.
The frame is made of 4130 Chromoly tubing and all sections are precut to exact measurements and specifications before the build even begins. Each section was designed using computer aided drafting program and along with a complete frame diagram and frame guide the process ensures a repeatable build and replacement process any certified welder can perform.
The Frame Guide
Along with the design of the tubular frame, the P4 by Norwood team designed a guide for frame assembly. Each piece is attached to the guide and then hand-welded by one of the team’s fabricators.
Chromoly Tubing Attached to Guide
As the pieces are attached to the guide you can see the correct angles and bends are already made in the pre-formed pieces. Just one of the benefits of using computer aided design software.
Frame with Motor to Verify Fitment
Once the core frame assembly is complete, a Ferrari V12 from 575 Maranello is lowered in to verify drivetrain fitment.
Side view of the Ferrari 5.7L V12 and Porsche G50 Gearbox
In our next feature: P4 by Norwood suspension and brakes assembly plus details on the creating the custom magnesium wheels:
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