In this series of discussions about how we selected the company name CabForward, we’ve looked at the origin of the term, how railroads addressed often horrific conditions experienced in Tunnels and Steam Locomotives, and, in this post, research how this cab-forward principle is being used in automotive applications.
American Motors Pacer
The first modern mass-produced, U.S. automobile using the cab forward concept was the Pacer, introduced in 1975 by American Motors Corporation. The company did not call it “cab forward”, but the Pacer’s layout placed the passenger compartment further forward than was typical to that time. Moreover, its wheels were pushed to the corners resulting in short overhangs, the body was relatively wide to total length, as well as the A-pillars were moved forward and the windshield was placed over part of the engine compartment. The cab forward design allows the passenger area to be much larger than in other similar sized automobiles. In addition to the cab forward design, the AMC Pacer contained many other features that were considered to be ahead of their time and did not enter mainstream automobiles until the 1990s.
In 1992, Chrysler revealed its strikingly different cab-forward sedans, and introduced the design principle to the automotive mainstream. When viewed in profile, the passenger cabin appeared to have moved forward, with a shorter hood, and the windshield is longer and more steeply raked. Passenger space was optimized, while the engine compartment was smaller, with less under-the-hood room given to mechanical and electronic systems.
Chrysler’s marketing department used the term “cab-forward” to represent their new styling, which moved the entire interior cabin forward, extending the windshield out over the front wheels. At the same time, the rear wheels move closer to the rear of the vehicle to reduce body overhang, and provides a longer wheelbase for better ride and handling. In short, Cab Forward maximizes space for man while minimizing space for machine. Here’s how Lee Iaccoca explained it:
Cab Forward Trucks
Cab forward, also known as Cab Over Engine (COE) trucks, is a body style of truck, bus, or van that has a vertical front or “flat face”, with the cab of the truck sitting above the front axle. An example of this is the Ford C series cab forward outfitted as a fire truck.
The cab-forward, or cab-over, design allows the vehicle’s over all wheelbase to be shorter, yielding more room for the load. This allows cab-over-engine semi trucks to devote less room for the cab, pushing it forward over the front wheels, thereby allowing for longer trailers to be used. In the case of cargo trucks, the design yields more room for the truck body or load area.
In both semi tractors and vocational trucks, the cab-over-engine design also produces an advantage in maneuverability over a conventional model, where the engine sits in front of the cab. And since cab-overs are generally lighter than conventional trucks, they can often haul heavier loads. Additionally, lack of a hood gives better visibility to the driver, a tighter turning radius, and significantly reduces the forward blind spots.
Top Fuel Drag Racing
Drag racing is a type of motor racing in which automobiles or motorcycles specially prepared for the purpose compete, usually two at a time, to be first to cross a set finish line. The race follows a short, straight course from a standing start over a measured distance, most commonly ¼ mile or less. The front engine dragster, shown below, is an obsolete style originally used in the highest class of drag racing, “Top Fuel,” and could make 2,000–3,000 horsepower while being very light weight.
The front engine power plant was located in the car’s frame in front of the driver, a design dating to 1954. The driver sits angled backward, over the top of the differential in a cockpit that is situated between the two rear tires to add weight over the tires, improving traction. This cockpit position led to drivers being maimed when catastrophic clutch failures occurred.
That style dragster was supplanted by the rear-engined style designed by Don Garlits in 1971 while in the hospital suffering from severe injuries caused by an exploding clutch. This design is notably safer as it puts most of the fuel processing and rotating or reciprocating parts of the dragster behind the driver. By placing the driver in front of nearly all mechanical components he or she remains capable of activating a variety of safety measures in the event of catastrophic mechanical failure or fire.
What’s In A Name?
Those disruptive innovations that led to major changes resemble the way CabForward’s business philosophy evolved. Possessing extensive consulting backgrounds, we have seen close hand the outmoded waterfall development process that included the customer in the initial design phases, but then excluded them until development was finished. That process was flawed, and usually resulted in displeased customers who had to spend extra to get revisions and updates added to make the final product right.
That was something we wanted to change, so when we were thinking about starting CabForward, we took a step back to look at that process, and determined that by being more transparent, agile and lean, we could provide the customer with a better experience.
We put away the old process controls, developed new operating practices, and put the customer “up front” in the development of projects. We have even had customers sit down in our DevOps center and do pair programming right along with our team.
We applied this “cab-forward” approach to the way we think about project management by putting the customer in the driver’s seat, and allowing them to steer the project from concept to completion. No longer is the customer abandoned after the initial Discovery sessions. We partner with our customer to ensure they are involved in the development process every step of the way, so there are no surprises when the coding is done. We liked the approach so much, we adopted CabForward as our company name.
Our company philosophy is to consistently apply this design concept to how we approach our projects and the entire software development cycle. We place you, our customer, in the driver’s seat and as close to the “front” of the project as possible, where you have maximum visibility and control. We Build “in the back” While You Drive “up front.” Whether you’re interested in a web or mobile app, Ruby on Rails, iOS, Sencha, or any of the other tools we use to reduce your final costs, you’ll appreciate the control we hand over, so you are always in the know, and always in charge. The right process. The right technology. The right choice.