Post by Stuart Mills on Sept 23, 2013 14:09:47 GMT
HISTORY OF MILLS EXTREME VEHICLES LTD
Stuart Mills (Director) commenced a programme of kit car development in 2004. In 2006 the Range Rover based mid-engine 4 x 4 (1) and Trek (2) were launched. These were modern interpretations of beach buggies but with serious off road ability. Later the same year development was completed on a patented tilting trike (3). All three projects were sold on and will no doubt be re-launched by the purchasers in time to come.
Looking for a niche market, and wanting to drive a car from the same position as Parker in Thunderbirds, Stuart then developed the centre steering three seater mid-engine Mondeo based R3 (4). This project was sold on. Then in September 2007 development was completed of the exo-skeletal Ford Focus based Rocket (5) which took its inspiration from a Harley Davidson V-Rod and Ducatti motorcycle exposed frame designs.
Stuart was so intrigued by the effects of aerodynamics that he set about designing the R2 (6) which was extensively tested in a wind tunnel during development. The narrow bodied R2 has staggered overlap seating, the prototype was powered by a 150kw electric motor with lithium ion phosphate batteries. The R2 project was sold, however, Stuart was delighted with the performance of the electric car, and went on to make the much smaller and lighter e-trike (7). Instead of offering a kit, this was sold as a plan set and is still selling well today. Further developments included the Battmobile variant (8) with twin rear wheels and GRP body. Some Battmobiles are now being used in colleges and universities for EV technician training.
Following on from the Rocket development it was clear that the market required a modern style car with bodywork. A Rocket chassis was used as the framework for a buck to retain the long slow curves of the Rocket together with its wheelbase, track width and seating position. The result being the very popular Focus based contemporary Sonic7 (9).
Lots of potential customers asked about bike power for the MEV range and in response Stuart developed a small lightweight single seater called the Atomic (10) which featured an engine mounted in such a position that with an average sized driver there is 25% weight distribution on each wheel. The perfectly balanced car. This led the market to demand a bike engine two seater and so development began of the tR1ke (11) with a chassis that weighs only 54 kgs and uses the motorcycle rear swing arm to create a very light reverse trike. Whilst working with bikes Stuart couldn’t resist the temptation to use a bike engine in a machine he designed to resemble a step through scooter (12). Often people customise scooters to look like motorbikes, but never before has anyone made a bike look like a scooter.
With his mind firmly set on developing the perfect kit Stuart used the various shows he has exhibited at to analyse the market. One thing that became clear was that rising fuel and vehicle taxation costs means that lots of people are asking about low cost, self build electric vehicles. With this in mind, Stuart developed the electric Missile (13). He also looked at the leisure market with regard to electric vehicles and found that some go-kart tracks were unable to operate at certain times due to noise restrictions, and so Stuart used his experience from the e-trike and incorporated it into a 38hp electric “e-kart” (14).
Still looking for the perfect kit car and a niche market, Stuart moved his thoughts from the comparatively expensive electric powered options to the more frugal petrol engined options. It was found that by using a modern scooter engine that up to 100 mpg could be achieved in a vehicle that only costs £15 a year to tax. By keeping the vehicle as low as possible, wind disturbance was kept to a minimum thus aiding efficiency, a reverse trike was completed known as the Eco-Exo (15). It’s a 125-650cc tandem seat reverse trike.
In order to attract novice kit car builders, Stuart concentrated his efforts on developing the world’s cheapest and easiest to build kit car. He chose the ubiquitous MX5 for this as it was renowned for reliability and dynamic ability, and almost one million have been sold. The resulting MEV Exocet kit (16) was developed to utilise a considerable amount of donor components from the MX5, thus keeping build costs low and ensuring the build is uncomplicated. A race Exocet (17) version was then developed which featured steel flooring, a roll cage, and a removable nudge bar. This car took the racing world by storm in its first year of testing in 2011. It astounded onlookers at the UK’s major circuits and managed to out brake and out turn, and then overtake far more powerful Nissans, Hondas and Subarus, even in the wet. Next Stuart turned his efforts to creating the MEV Exocet Lightweight (18), and developed a chassis to accept the Mazda suspension without the use of sub-frames, and used smaller diameter tubing to further reduce weight. Then followed the MEVX5 Coupe (19). Another revelation. A completely re-bodied MX5 with no IVA required. This sleek, modern all year round kit car proved very popular with those looking for a totally practical car. The X5 concept was then developed further to create the MEVX5 convertible (20), and then a bespoke fully triangulated space frame chassis was developed to replace the Mazda monocoque, and was crowned the MEVX5 Superlight which featured an open top, screen less redesign of the standard X5 (21). Variants of the X5 were so diverse that it was possible to order 12 different cars depending on model and front and rear styling options.
Back to bike power for the next project as orders were flowing in for the tR1ke but many potential customers were looking for a 4 wheel variant. The power choice was not R1 for this project, extreme power was chosen from the Hayabusa and this new 4 wheels exo style car was christened Mevabusa (22).
Still fascinated by the ease of building and designing MX5 based kits Stuart decided to create a lightweight car with weather gear, the Mevster (23) was developed which features a removable hardtop, a full screen and a boot for storage. But it didn’t end there. Aston Martin were celebrating their 100th anniversary and so a s a fitting tribute to the marque Stuart took inspiration from the DBR1 and developed a 50’s style race car under pinned with modern reliable mechanics. This is now known as Replicar (24) which is a registered trade mark of the company.
Returning to one of his passions of tilting vehicles Stuart then set about perfecting the reverse trike tilting system and developed the Lean Machine (25). During the same year he developed a 450 bhp V8 roadster (26) code named Monster, whilst it was never his intention to put this car into production he did present it to the Donington kit car show as a concept vehicle to gauge interest.