Dream Machines Episodes

Autotrader.com's Mars Rover
Season 1 - Episode 104
Autotrader.com's Mars Rover
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When Clark Wood of Autotrader.com walks into the first client meeting, Marc and Shanon are psyched. Mix speed, futuristic design, and high-horsepower electric engines? You have their attention. Clark gives the guys a bit to come up with their best, and then comes back to go over the designs. They need something that, while futuristic and badass, will still stop jaded auto show-goers in their tracks.  Time for Shanon to bring his "A" game. The Turbo-Teen-meets-moon-buggy concept is a go.

When the C.A.D. guys come in, the result isn't quite to Shanon's standards. As is usual for the guys, while Shanon wants his look, Marc still has to make Shanon's super-cool designs work within the laws of physics. After some design spitballing, the guys manage to bring the C.A.D. guys' product more into Shanon's vision. 

Once the C.A.D. work is finalized, it's time to take them to Composite Technologies for fabrication. Normally, the guys would do a body in steel, but weight is a massive factor on this build.  Building the body out of fiberglass give it good strength, but without the weight of steel.

That's the easy part. Another clash between design and fabrication comes in the electric motor. It's going to take a lot of power cells, and with the car's minimalist, open-air design, they have about half the space to work with. Fortunately, Marc's steel lattice frame design resulted in more built-in storage space for the batteries. It's going to take some serious Tetris work with the little buggers. If there's one thing the guys love, it's a challenge.

Marc's having a peaceful, productive day on the build, laying in steel floorboards and working toward getting the motor in, when he realizes Shanon's pulled a Houdini. Marc, however, needs to get some parts ordered.  He calls Shanon, and gets his voicemail. 

Shanon, you see, has had an idea.  While his family gets some R&R in the Keys, he can do some R&D of his own. He hasn't quite let go of the idea of some portion of the car being clear. So, he's down checking out the "glass-bottomed boats". This, of course, upsets Marc. That just gets bonus points in Shanon's world.

Autotrader.com wanted visibility, and Shanon has translated that into clear floorboards. It's something people have never seen before, and he's not letting go of this one. In comes Paragon Plastics with a massive clear acrylic that's bullet-resistant to three shots in the same spot. While Marc trusts their belief in the durability of the stuff, he wants to test the theory. To the shooting range!

Karen—Shanon's crack-shot wife—takes aim with a nine-millimeter pistol, as do Shanon and Marc.  Their hits barely scratch the surface of the test block. So, it's time to see what really will break this thing. Bring in the Smith & Wesson 460 Magnum. One shot from Marc takes the corner off of the block, proving the bullet-resistant, but not bulletproof statement.

It's perfect. Two floorboards, please.

In a few days, the floorboards come back to the shop, complete with the Autotrader.com logo etched into the side. Marc already has backlighting plans in his head. Visibility, visibility, visibility.

When Shanon gets his first real sit-down in the car, he decides to make a change. It is a day ending in 'y'. He wants the seats to swivel.  Marc, however, is having none of it this time.  In this design, it's just not safe. Shanon's just going to have to suck it up and deal with it.

Marc couldn't be happier with the test drive. Once the body panels are out of painting, and the car is finally pieced together, Marc and Shanon are both happy with how awesome it's turned out.

The reaction at Autotrader.com is just explosive with approval. Another happy client for Parker Brothers Concepts.

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