Perdue to take ‘Stealth’ car on nationwide test drive

July 13, 2010


Jay Perdue is ready for the second phase of his Stealth project.

Perdue, inventor and part-time Erin resident, has been working for about 16 months on an unconventional, high-mileage car he calls the “Tri-Hybrid Stealth.”

The “tri” part of the name stems from the vehicle’s three power sources — diesel, electrical and human — and the Stealth from the car’s black, flat-panel appearance that recalls the U.S. Air Force’s stealth fighter jet.

“We’re in the prototype stage,” Perdue said, “and the next phase is to raise public awareness of the car.”

To that end, Perdue plans to drive the Stealth beginning Aug. 15 in the 2,000-mile Rally Green from Lincoln, Iowa, to San Francisco.

After that, he’ll embark on a 3,000-mile solo tour that will take him all over America — including through Erin — to a grand finale in Washington D.C.

Along the way, he’ll be collecting donations for the United Way with a theme of “pass it forward.”

His ultimate goal, he said, is for the Stealth to be marketed by a major motorcycle manufacturer.

I think it’s the best way to manufacture the Stealth for the American consumer, he said.

He figures the Stealth would sell for about $8,000 in its finished form.

“No component on the car,” he said, “costs more than $700.”

From now until the rally, Perdue will be “running the car all around Erin.”

Running, not puttering.

“We’re so close to achieving our goals for the car, which are:

zero to 60 in 10 seconds,
100 mile-per-hour top speed,
200 miles per gallon,
a 400-mile range to running all day long.”
Perdue said he has invested about $100,000 in the project so far, financed by his business, Perdue Acoustics of Erin and his native Amarillo, Texas, which manufactures and distributes architectural acoustic panels.

The project, which has been featured on the Discovery Channel, is in keeping with one of Perdue’s philosophies as an inventor.

“I just love,” he said, “to kill several chickens with one rock.”

The Stealth, Perdue said, “answers four or five of our biggest problems,” which he listed as the trade deficit, dependence on foreign oil, pollution, the overall economy and fitness.


“If I had to pick a main objective, it would be fitness,” Perdue said.

That’s where the human power comes in, as the Stealth has pedals — not so much for locomotion as cardiovascular stimulation.

Perdue explained:

“We desperately need exercise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, 90 to 95 percent of the people who have home fitness equipment or pay dues for membership in a health club, don’t use them. It just doesn’t fit into their day.

“They could pedal on their way home from work, at highway speed. You get your cardiovascular on your way home, take a shower and be done for the day.

“If we do that, and this is also from the Bureau of Statistics, we would need half the hospitals we have now. Can you imagine what it would be like if we went to the hospital only half as much as we do now?”

Perdue will be supported during his travels by his wife, Vickie, who will follow with a flatbed trailer in case mechanical problems are encountered, and by assistant Wes Nolen of Erin.

Nolen designed and maintains the Web site, helps Perdue with engineering the car, and is the project’s liaison with United Way.

Perdue likes the product of their labors, saying the Stealth has “tremendous power and speed.”

It also is light for a car, weighing 875 pounds, and isn’t all that complicated.

“It isn’t rocket science … just simple, logical engineering,” said Perdue, who classifies himself as “a very practical inventor.”

The car’s design is so fundamental, in fact, that Perdue said he is considering producing plans and kits for buyers to use in assembling their own Stealths.

Perdue came to Erin about four years ago to establish a second site for his Amarillo-based company, which does a lot of business back east. He decided on Nashville as his eastern hub and found a home in the 56,000-square-foot Erin building that formerly housed Southern Gage.

He and his wife maintain residences in Erin and Amarillo, where his parents, son and daughter-in-law live.

Perdue conceived the Stealth project three or four years ago, and for more than a year has worked on it “eight to 12 hours a day, five days a week.”

Not all is perfect.

“We’ve still got some vibration problems, so we need to make some aerodynamic adjustments.”

Perdue said the Stealth has an aerodynamic coefficient of 1.3 to 1.4, about a full point lower than conventional cars.

He said the Stealth, is “100 percent adaptable to heating and air conditioning” and eventually could be expanded to three- or four-seat models. Mileage would be affected by accessories and size.

On the prototype, all the components are under Plexiglas to make them visible to students and technicians when they are afforded the chance to observe or study the car.

Perdue will turn 56 in September, “somewhere on the road” during his trip from San Francisco to Washington. He’s hoping not too many more birthdays will pass before a major manufacturer gets behind the Stealth.

“If the big (car) companies don’t want it,” he said, “we’re hoping one of the big motorcycle companies will step up for a good three-wheel, tandem-seat, enclosed vehicle.”

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