Technically Speaking

TS (JanFeb15) – Custom Golf Cars

By: Matt Vallez

In this issue, we’re showing off the top submissions for the Most Exotic Golf Car contest. I love this competition, and most of the entries we received were excellent. But you might be wondering exactly what makes a golf cart exotic. Does it need a custom paint job or big tires and wheels? Is it elongated with extra seats for more passengers? Obviously, I have a few of my own ideas about what makes a golf car exotic and if you read on, so will you.

It starts with the guts – what’s under the hood. We’ve all probably heard the famous description of anything modified as being “all show and no go.” Why would anyone want to spend the extra money and effort on a golf car just to have average performance? We’ll start with electric models. To be truly exotic, an electric golf car needs to have something more than the regular 36V or 48V motor/controller system. It needs an upgrade, and the best of the best have increased voltage. Sure, you may have problems charging higher-voltage batteries, but that’s part of the charm of owning an exotic car.

If it’s a gas car, it needs to have more than the stock clutches and muffler set-up. For you motorheads out there, change the clutch to a high-torque driven clutch to improve the engine revs out of the hole. Then let the motor breathe a little with a tuned header and K&N-style air filter. Take it a step further and bore out the engine, dome the head and re-jet the carburetor. That’s about as far as you can go with a stock engine. If you want to go further, you need to swap the engine for something with more horsepower. Remember, if you’re building an exotic golf car, money is no object!

Next we need to address the suspension, because a stock suspension will not do for an exotic. You want to make a statement, and this requires a lift of at least three inches or more (if nothing else, a three-inch lift will allow room for slightly oversized tires). If you feel the need to lift the car more than eight inches, I recommend doing so only when putting grossly oversized tires on the beast. I have seen some of these monsters in person and they make a jaw-dropping impression. The golf car becomes more of a show piece because the size and weight of the tires and wheels max out the tolerances of all the other steering and drive components. Granted, practicality is not the goal of an exotic car, but there’s a delicate balance between function and flair. Your car becomes a lot less different and cool if it breaks the steering gears or tie rods every time you take it out of the showroom.

Extended length is a new trend in exotic cars. Owners want to bring along more of their friends for the ride, so many models now have seating for six people. When I started in this industry, six- and eight-passenger cars were commonly used around churches or resorts with large parking lots. This year’s exotic golf car submissions included five entries with seating for six or more people! Plus, all but one featured custom work that rivaled anything done on a smaller golf car. They really are quite impressive.

A final word of warning and safety, because it’s important: any modified golf car that’s set up to carry four or more people should have upgraded brakes for obvious reasons. If you’re modifying a golf car by elongating it, do it right. If the fabrication work is poor, the car will be dangerous when fully loaded. It is worth the extra work to make sure the final result is structurally sound. Anything less could be a death trap.

So what do you think about exotic golf cars? Ready to create one of your own? These cars are a passion of mine, and judging by the hard work we saw in the submissions this year, they are for many of you as well. We look forward to seeing what you come up with next time!

Cartoon: January / February 2018

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