TS (MarApr07) - Modified/ATV Type Cars

By Editor,

By: Matt Vallez

In the golf car industry, an ongoing trend is to modify used golf cars to be all they can be, and more, and then sell them for prices more comparable to a new golf car than used. These highly modified golf cars are altered to the point that they are more like an ATV than a golf car in all but one way. Lift kits, larger tires, brush guards, high speed or high torque motors, roll cages and cargo boxes are just a few of the things that are added to these cars. This is what the public wants; leave it to the aftermarket to provide it. There has been a number of small fab shops started just to meet the demands of the dealers doing this work. The OEM manufacturers have responded to the situation, with offerings like the E-Z-GO ST line or Club Car’s XRT and Pioneer line, but the situation continues to change.


There are a number of OEM vehicles that have tried to hit the mark. Consumer demand for the highly modified golf car / ATV type vehicle continues to be strong demanding ever faster and more versatile vehicles. There is the ST, and the XRT; both are modified versions of a standard golf car. Both are mostly a golf car with a lifted and modified suspension, slightly more powerful and better accessorized. These are popular with most consumers, but trends are changing and the consumer demand is driving these changes. There are certain consumers that need more, better suspension more power and automotive like safety features. These consumers now have a few new vehicles to choose from that are more like an ATV than a golf car.


The Rhino made by Yamaha and the Ranger made by Polaris, were created and marketed as side by side ATVs. The main difference is in the power; these vehicles have 660cc engines. These engines are more like that of a motorcycle than a golf car. The Club Car XRT 1550 SE, Club Cars most similar vehicle, offers a 675cc engine. But it is an industrial grade engine that produces only 23 horse power at 3600rpm. The Polaris Ranger’s engine with 683cc produces 40 horse power, the rpm speck was not available. This is what makes this new half breed of ATV and golf car fun. They are comfortable, easy to get in and out of, and they are fast with top speeds of 50 miles per hour. That is what most people want, top speed and power. The engines in the Rhino and the Ranger are delivering just that, and with the golf car type body style. The big OEM golf car manufacturers need to be looking at the success of these vehicles. Is this a cross over market segment they can afford to ignore?


The OEM golf car manufactures have done a good job transforming the fleet golf car into a more muscular and capable version.  Both Club Car and E-Z-GO have modified the suspension, brakes and safety features such as roll cages. These golf cars even have 4 wheel drive capability and can carry or pull larger payloads than the standard golf car. The difference between a Rhino or Ranger and the best that Club Car or E-Z-GO have to offer is mostly top speed. Are the golf car builders interested in competing with golf car type vehicles that will go 50 miles per hour? Or, can the aftermarket take what the OEM golf car manufacturers are building and modify it to compete with the Rhino and Ranger. The amount of modification necessary to a standard fleet golf car to safely reach speeds of 50 miles per hour is extreme.


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