Father and Son 3D-Print Lamborghini Aventador Replica With Corvette Engine for $20,000
It helps when your dad is a professional physicist and college professor.
They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. From clothes to cars, people often find something they like and want to make it their own. Sadly, a great many of the copycat cars we see end up being poorly executed—but not this one.
Meet Sterling Backus, a physicist and adjunct professor at Colorado State University who also happens to fancy himself as a car nut. More than a year ago, Backus and his son were playing Forza Horizon 3 when the idea struck: could they build a replica of the Lamborghini Aventador that Backus' son loved so much? This idea for the homemade AXAS Interceptor was born.
Backus had originally planned to use traditional coach building methods to construct the vehicle. He toyed with the idea of using a buck to shape steel into the form of the Italian supercar but instead decided to use the modern magic of 3D printing to achieve the task instead. Backus began designing the bodywork in SolidWorks, a 3D design and analysis software suite, and started printing.
And it didn't take a car-sized 3D printer in order to build the car. In fact, Backus used a $650 QIDI Xpro system (along with two cheaper printers) in order to print the majority of his parts. The panels themselves are printed in sections, and then butt-glued together with a methyl methacrylate adhesive to form an ultra-strong bond.
While 3D printing has matured greatly in the last several years, consumer and hobbyist printers often produce low-resolution prints with hash edges and visible layers. Combined with the brittle nature of the parts, Backus decided to skin the parts in carbon fiber for strength and rigidity. He then smoothed the faux-Aventador's panels using body filler techniques and prepared to encapsulate the rough parts in carbon fiber.
Nearly every single exterior part of the car is 3D printed in some form or another, even the taillights (with the exception of the lenses, which were cut out of 1/16 inch Lexan).
There were some pieces that Backus deemed better to be left to metal. For example, while the Aventador features an all-carbon-fiber monocoque design, the Interceptor instead uses a chassis made from tubular steel. Backus also used a few OEM odds-and-ends, including the actual Lamborghini wiper arms.
As for the heart of the car, it was chosen to use the mother of all swap motors in place of the Aventador's 6.2-liter V12; we're talking about a 5.7-liter GM LS1 engine plucked from a 2003 Chevy Corvette and equipped with two turbochargers. In order to keep the engine rear-mounted and still drive the rear wheels, Backus sought out a transaxle from a 996-gen Porsche 911.
The Interceptor also makes use of both cantilever and custom adjustable air suspension on all four corners. Backus went all-out to ensure that the car maintains the functionality that mimics a production car, including functional power windows and even climate control.
In all, the project has cost Backus about $20,000 as it sits, including the 220 spools of thermoplastic filaments. The Interceptor still has quite a way to go before it's completed and rolls over to your local cars and coffee, but this is absolutely a project that goes above and beyond what most enthusiasts could dream of completing. And in case you too were inspired by Backus' work, you can even build your own at home.