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Compare the technical specifications of each car or check out some of the frequently asked questions about solar cars.
Gato del Sol V
In design phase.
Gato del Sol IV
2010-2012. About Gato IV.
Gato del Sol III
2007-2010. One of the most noticeable things about Gato del Sol III (to someone who’s seen Gato II and Gato III) is that both cars have an almost identical body. This is because Gato III actually uses the same body from Gato II. Due to a change in race regulations, drivers could no longer lay down and had to sit up at a minimum angle of 27 degrees. To accommodate this rule change, the team simply cut off the canopy, made a new one, and called it Gato del Sol III, right? Unfortunately, it’s not nearly that easy.
A new chassis was built to avoid the short fatigue life of treated Aluminum and change the driver’s seating angle. After observing Gato II for a few years and noting what could been done better, many small performance changes were made. Add in some more reliable electronics, make a new top carbon fiber piece, put it all together, and you get Gato del Sol III, the most successful solar raycer to come from the state of Kentucky.
Gato del Sol III will soon be put on display in the Capitol Education Center in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Gato del Sol II
2003-2007. This is the only known picture of Gato del Sol II. You can note a major difference from the cars you see today: there’s no room for the driver! This is because the driver was actually in a laying position, a common design among teams to make the car as flat as possible and reduce aerodynamic drag.
Firefly/Gato del Sol I
1999-2003. The first University of Kentucky Solar Car was designed in 1999 under the name Firefly. Firefly, as with most teams’ first car, was a big tank. The car had few designs for aerodynamics, rolled strong on 4 wheels, used many extremely heavy Lead-Acid batteries, and weighed-in at almost 1000 pounds! Despite some of these flaws, though, starting the team was all that mattered. There’s always time to build a new car and make changes, but without starting the team, we wouldn’t be here!
After a couple years, Stone Farm became a huge sponsor of the team. Stone Farm also owned the 1984 Kentucky Derby winner, Gato del Sol, which translates from Spanish to ‘Sun-Cat.’ As a solar team with a Wildcat mascot, this name deemed more fitting than Firefly, and so Gato del Sol I was born.
In 2003, Gato I attended the American Solar Challenge, but did not qualify. However, UC-Berkeley encountered some motor issues, so the team lent them their motor (the one still being used today!) so they could compete in the race. Unfortunately, there are no known pictures of Gato I at this moment.