Honda shows radical Project 2&4

  • 29-Sep-2015 11:27 EDT
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The Honda Project 2&4 paint scheme evokes the company's race-winning RA272 Formula One racer. (Dan Carney)

Honda sought to recapture some of the glory of its motorcycling and open-wheel-racing heritage at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, introducing the Project 2&4, a tiny go-kart of a concept vehicle that marries the company’s MotoGP powerplant with a four-wheeled conveyance. Hence, two and four wheels of the project’s name.

Unfortunately, despite the company’s desire to exploit its powerful heritage with this concept, it said no more about the car during its introduction than was listed in the press release and company officials on the Frankfurt show stand declined to elaborate further.

What Honda’s release does say is that the Project 2&4 gets its motive force from a 999-cm³ V4 lifted from the company’s RC213V MotoGP bike. In this application it is tuned for 215 hp (160 kW) at 13,000 rpm, with 118 N·m (87 lb·ft) torque at 10,500 rpm, and power goes to the rear wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Redline is 14,000 rpm.

Curb weight is 405 kg (893 lb), and the little concept is just a shade over 3 m (9.8 ft) long and 1.8 m (5.9 ft) wide. The driver’s seat is mounted on the left side of the car’s central spine. The car is finished in traditional Japanese racing white, with a rising sun atop the nose trailed by a red stripe, in homage to the RA272, Honda’s first Formula One race winner.

Though Honda declined to provide many details, Yogi Berra noted that “You can observe a lot just by watching,” and that is the case with the Project 2&4. The frame appears to be made of a combination of aluminum castings and extrusions and it creates a central section with the driver’s seat outside the frame rails.

This leaves plenty of elbow room for the driver and improves ingress and egress over the contortions normally needed when sliding into or out of an open-wheel formula car with its cockpit contained within the frame.

Unlike the earlier Honda project Side-By-Side, which saw a motorcycle engine mounted alongside the driver’s seat, the Project 2&4’s engine and transaxle mount longitudinally behind the driver in conventional formula car fashion. A carbon fiber driver’s seat is cantilevered on the car’s left side, where a formula car’s sidepod would normally be, and a beauty cover appears to conceal a lot of nothing on the right side, suggesting we could see the Project 2&4 with a passenger’s seat mounted in the future.

The problem with production of such a design is that, even for racing rather than road use, the complete lack of side impact protection is likely to make the Project 2&4 nonviable. An extra large dead pedal with a large lip on the outside is the sole means of containing the driver’s left foot in the car.

Simpson racing belts hold the driver in the seat, and a Tilton Engineering pedal array operate the throttle and dual master cylinder brake arrangement.

A flat-panel video display ahead of the steering wheel provides a video game-like array of race information, with a large analog tachometer in the center flanked by fuel level, water temperature, oil pressure and temperature, lap counter, lap timer, and a track-position indicator.

In lieu of conventional rear-view mirrors, the display shows a video image from the rear-facing camera mounted on the trailing edge of the engine intake airbox and roll hoop.

The car wears Ohlins upside-down multi-adjustable aluminum bodied dampers at all four corners and 17-inch Bridgestone Potenza street tires. The brakes are unbranded, but it sat adjacent to the RC213V-S, the company’s new street-legal version of its MotoGP racer, and that had Brembos mounted conspicuously to its Ohlins forks.

Production, even for track-only use, may not be in the future for the Project 2&4, but Honda has released its most advanced racebike for sale to the public, so maybe in that spirit the 2&4 will reach enthusiasts’ hands one day too.

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