The High-Performance Nighthawk | Fueled by Passion
Posted: Aug 04 2016
At Fuller Moto, we believe in those who find something they love and go after it with the highest level of commitment. Dedicated to his creative vision and fueled by his passion, Sloan MacKarvich goes the distance to bring the high-performance 'Nighthawk' to life. Fuller Moto is proud to be helping the MacKarvich team finish this passion project. Stay tuned as we continue to provide updates of this project until its final completion...
Growing up in a family manufacturing and fabrication business is a great source of pride, and makes for unique experiences as one learns both a trade and hopefully how to manage a dynamic business. However and as many know well, one's professional career may not marry up with what someone is truly passionate about outside of work. Sloan MacKarvich has always had a passion for anything with a motor that happens to go fast, but he is also equally passionate over discovering new ways to employ a wide array of fabrication assets. His father Chuck MacKarvich, started Tie Down Engineering 45 years ago in a one car garage with an old Lincoln Buzzbox welder. Since then, Tie Down has grown to nine world class manufacturing facilities. With the strength and versatility of Tie Down Engineering, Sloan began to seek his entrance into the automotive world. After meeting Bryan Fuller, he became fascinated by the custom projects at Fuller Moto and was hooked. He shared with Bryan his desire to be in the automotive industry but had no idea how to go about it. Bryan’s simple advice to Sloan was "Just do it man!" Although not in the same industry segment as Fuller, through the Industrial Laser Solutions division, Tie Down began to support various vehicle projects ranging from a monocoque bus chassis to military vehicle armor systems. These opportunities and lessons would further hone a capability that would play a unique role in what is now a very successful vehicle adaption.
After the completion of the vehicle armor project, Sloan was approached by Warren van Nus and Kevin Patrick. Kevin had been importing a new race car frame from the UK under the Exomotive brand. They were pitching an opportunity to redesign the “Exocet” under license for the US market. Warren van Nus's new design utilized the manufacturing capabilities of Tie Down Engineering, and an innovative laser-cut tab and slot system reduced chassis weld time from 35 to less than 9 man-hours. As a cost saving measure, they were even able to utilize existing CNC bend tooling from the armor project. With those precise bending operations of tubing and sheet metal, Warren's new frame was precise enough to self-jig on a special laser-cut table. This brought high-quality production to the low volume grassroots world of motorsports.
The new Tie Down built frame was measured to be about seven times stiffer than the original and the safety structure complied with all major sanctioning bodies for road course use. After the initial success of launch, production of that initial vehicle and is now among the most successful low volume enthusiast vehicles available.
Once production was running smoothly, Warren and Sloan wished to apply the lessons learned from the Exocet to a vehicle with higher performance goals. First, they built a 525hp LS3-powered 1700 lb Exocet in conjunction with Exomotive. From that V8-powered beast came an idea to use OEM-derived components in a mid-engine, rear-transmission tube frame supercar.
Dubbed the “Nighthawk”, a new chassis was engineered with new manufacturing technologies, closed-loop CNC tube bending and CNC panel folding. This car’s goal was to provide a raw, visceral connection between car and driver. The frame was designed for stiffness, lightness, crash protection, and driver involvement. The design was a collaborative effort with automotive designer Kevin Miron. The Nighthawk prototype is being finished at Bryan Fuller’s shop in Atlanta.