Rear-engine, front-wheel-drive layout

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Framed illustration of the Dymaxion car.

A rear-engine, front-wheel-drive layout is one in which the engine is behind the rear wheels, but drives the front wheels via a driveshaft, like a conventional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive vehicle traveling in reverse.

Although an uncommon drive layout, it has been used in the past, by Buckminster Fuller in his concept Dymaxion car, which was able to turn within its wheelbase due to rear-wheel steering.

There is some interest in developing the idea for use in cars of the future, as evidenced by the patent application of inventor–engineer Michael Basnett at Rover Group (GB), who proposes a front transaxle design, rear flat engine architecture.

According to the patent, the layout is designed to be advantageous in terms of crash performance by increasing the front crumple zone, in allowing greater styling freedom, in enhanced ride via reduced noise, vibration, and harshness, and in lowered center of gravity providing improved handling, braking and roll characteristics. Its main disadvantage is the lack of weight over the drive wheels, particularly under hard acceleration as weight shifts to the rear.[1]

In 1932, Coleman Motors based in Littleton, Colorado, chief designer Harleigh Holmes designed and built an automobile named Maroon Car[2] which had front-wheel drive by a rear-mounted V-8 engine. Only one was built and never placed in production.[3]

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