List of materials commonly associated with supercar construction: Carbon fiber, aluminum, fur, titanium, gold...
Hang on, fur? Sounds ludicrous, but automotive designer Da Feng's latest supercar creation The Flake makes use of bodywork that acts in a fur-like manner to enhance aerodynamic efficiency.
It may look something like The Thing from the Fantastic Four might drive, but Feng's furry Flake actually uses a body made up of dozens of hinged carbon fiber pieces that can lay flat like regular bodywork, or stand up in the manner of a cat puffing up its fur to appear bigger than it is.
Each of the carbon "flakes" is operated by carbon nanotubes connected to tiny solenoids that allow each one to move depending on the aerodynamic requirements of the car. Think of it as a more extreme take on the airbrakes found on the Bugatti Veyron, McLaren MP4-12C and several other supercars. As each flake is independent, they can offer almost infinite variations in airflow to help when braking or cornering, and potentially to aid with cooling.
The wheels are equally unusual. Rather than a regular metal wheel fitted with a pneumatic tire, the Flake's wheels comprise 12 leg-like spokes around the hub that can expand and contract depending on the surface they're driving over. Feng describes them as "D-wheels" as the lower spokes flatten at speed, giving the wheel a D-shape. The wheels "track ground surfaces and adjust accordingly, making the wheel a part of the suspension system" explains Feng. The spokes also give the potential for good traction off-road.
Although the car sounds impossibly complicated, Feng has been reassured by an ex-Williams Formula One engineer that it's aerodynamically sound, with only a few minor tweaks required. Even so, you're unlikely to see it in a dealer near you any time soon.
Feng isn't worried. "It isn’t meant to be a practical solution, rather, an inspiration for others."
What we'd really like to know though is whether the car can shake its "fur" like a dog that's been left out in the rain?...
, images Da Feng