Wednesday, June 4, 2008

So what is a Clenet?

My first introduction to the Clenet was from the car magazine that my brother Ron spoke of earlier and for me it was love at first sight. What I liked the most about the Clenet was the styling and the proportion of the body vs the chassis. What most people do not notice on the Neo-classics is that the radiator grille is supposed to be centered on the front axle, while the front fenders are supposed to extend quite far ahead of the front axle. The windshield attaches to the cowl via a frame which is usually not painted body color and the body/cockpit of the car must sit within the frame rails. Plant the occupants between the front and rear axles and with that you have the correct proportions of the Neo-classic car. At the time Excalibur and Clenet were doing this, there were many other Neo-classics that just got it all wrong and they looked awkward. The kit cars of that era had some proportions right but then lost it with the styling.

The Clenet is no kit-car. Not even close! The upscale car manufacturers of the 20's and 30's were essentially producing rolling chassis that came with a cowl, hood and grille; which was sent to a coach-builder who then built a custom body. Roadsters, sedans and coupe's were usually built on the same size frame; Clenet, copying this practice took a full size rolling frame purchased from Lincoln/Mercury and added a highly modified MG roadster body. He designed the rest of the car to blend these "store-bought" parts together with seamless grace. In doing so, he was able to conform to the State and Federal CAFE standards. The frame, wiring, engine/driveline were already engineered and thus were 50-state compliant, the bodies were already engineered with impact beams, hinged doors, handles, windows, etc., so there again he was able to save time and money too. With the Feds taken care of, he now had the artistic and creative freedom that he strove for.

Excaliburs have original frames and bodies and this is where some "purists" turn up their noses at the Clenet. I used purist in quotations because it is my firm belief that if they are going to snub the Clenet then they are simply the pot calling the kettle black. The Excalibur and the Clenet were both built with the exact same idea, build a unique car with graceful styling of the 30's but give it modern drivability. I like the fact that the side pipes on the Excalibur are fully functional and I wish they were functional on the Clenet; but I'll glady let that one go when the Clenet needs exhaust work! Another advantage of the MG body is that the parts are available and inexpensive, new body panels, new clips, gizmo's and do-dads are readily available from several sites. The chassis, engine, brakes, suspension, trans, wiring loom and more is all stock Ford, parts are available at any Ford dealer, discount auto store or wrecking yard. There are some very, very pricey unique parts on a Clenet. The crystal ashtray, hood ornament and assorted body emblems are impossible to find and have price tags to match when found. If we ever have the need for body work the fenders and faux exhaust pipes will cost as much as a brand new car!

Lincolns and MGs were what I drove most of my young adult years, now I have both makes in one car.


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