Corvette's Chassis Innovations Refined on the Race TrackIt's been said that racing improves the breed, and when it comes to the Chevrolet Corvette, nearly six decades of checkered flags are the proof. As Corvette marks its 60th anniversary in 2013, the design of the chassis, suspension and other drivetrain features are rooted in the rigors of competition.
'Candidly, Corvette was not a high-performance car until Zora Arkus-Duntov fitted it wîth a V-8, and began campaigning Corvettes in racing,' said Tadge Juechter, Corvette's vehicle chief engineer. 'Today, the Corvettes competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans use many of the same components as Corvettes rolling off the assembly line at Bowling Green.'
The Corvette C6.R is built on the same aluminum frame rails that underpin production Corvette Z06 and ZR1 models. Other production chassis structures in the race car include the windshield frame, the hoop around the rear of the passenger compartment, the door hinge pillars, the drivetrain tunnel, the firewall and the floor pan. Corvette C6.R also uses the production §teering column out of the ZR1, wîth a fully adjustable §teering wheel, as well as production rack-and-pinion §teering.
For the production Corvette ZR1, the racing influence is also evident in the rear transaxle design that helps achieve a near-perfect 51/49 weight distribution, as well as the racing-developed carbon ceramic brake rotors and Michelin® Pilot® Sport Cup Zero Pressure tires (developed by the same Michelin engineers who developed tires for Corvette Racing in the American Le Mans Series). These features contribute to the ZR1 running Germany's legendary Nürburgring in 7:19.63.
Here's an overview of the chassis technologies that have shaped Corvette performance on and off the track:
C2: Independent suspension, disc brakes and aluminum wheels First-generation (1953-62) Corvettes used a modified passenger car frame and live rear axle, which worked well wîth the cars' comparatively modest performance output. Substantially greater power was on the horizon for the second-generation Corvette and racing-derived development spearheaded by the legendary Zora Arkus-Duntov – Corvette's first chief engineer – highlighted the need for a dedicated chassis system.
When the 'C2' (Corvette second generation) launched in 1963, it featured a sturdy, ladder-type frame design that was 90 percent stiffer than the sedan-based 'X'-frame of the first-generation models. It also featured an independent rear suspension held in place by a unique transverse leaf-spring design. Besides offering greater handling capability, the independent rear axle was lighter than the previous solid axle design.
The C2 also introduced disc brakes and aluminum wheels, based on designs Duntov refined on Corvette race cars.
'Duntov pioneered the model of technology transfer by applying what was learned on the race track to improve the production cars,' said Juechter, 'That philosophy continues to play an integral role in vehicle development at Chevrolet.'
C4: Únitized structure, composite springs, antilock brakes and traction control
The C4 generation (1984-96) represented an even bigger leap in chassis technology than the C2. The ladder frame that had served the Corvette for about 20 years was replaced by a unitized 'backbone' chassis that, again, was inspired by racing cars. It eliminated several cross members, allowing direct mounting of the rear differential and other components, which enabled greater interior room. It was also lighter than the previous ladder frame.
Integrated on the backbone chassis was a 'cage' incorporating the windshield frame, door frames, rear wall of the 'cockpit,' rocker panels and more. The Corvette's body panels were attached to the chassis and cage, marking the first time in the car's history that it didn't use a conventional body-on-frame design.
When it came to the suspension, the C4 again used unequal-length upper and lower A-arms in the front suspended by a new, transverse spring design similar to the rear suspension. At the rear was another transverse composite spring, but used wîth a new five-link independent suspension design vs. the previous three-link setup. The reinforced fiberglass springs were exceptionally strong yet compliant, and they worked in two ways: They flattened as they flexed, but when the vehicle rolled in a turn, they effectively formed an S shape. That added roll stiffness, which minimized the size – and weight – of the stabilizer bars.
Additional C4 chassis/drivetrain innovations included rack-and-pinion §teering (1984), aluminum driveshaft (1984), aluminum disc brake calipers (1984), antilock brakes (1986) and traction control (1992).
The C4 was an unqualified success on the track. In its first year of competition, the C4 Corvette went undefeated and captured the SCCA Showroom Stock GT-class championship. That launched a renewed effort on racing and the benefits of technology transfer.
C5: Hydroformed rails, rear transaxle, magnetic ride
The C5 generation (1997-2004) built on the success of the C4 wîth a new, unitized backbone chassis design, but it was lighter and stronger. Its construction employed a comparatively rare process called hydroforming, which used water pressure and heat to turn six-inch steel tubes into side rails for the Corvette chassis. Each tube replaced what formerly had comprised 36 separate, welded components in the C4 chassis.Source - GM
The other big advancement wîth the fifth-generation Corvette was the use of a rear transaxle, which moved the transmission to the rear of the vehicle rather than the traditional position directly behind the engine. The tunnel between the engine and transaxle was enclosed wîth a panel that contributed to the chassis' strength and rigidity.
'Weight distribution was a primary motivator,' said Juechter. 'We were trying to get to 50/50, balancing the work load on the front and rear tires, which is extremely challenging to do wîth the front-engine, V-8 powered car. Moving to a rear transaxle dramatically improved the weight balance, as well as enabling a smoother ride and greater interior space.'
Additional C5 chassis/drivetrain innovations included run-flat tires (1997), Active Handling System (1998), magnesium wheels (2002) and Magnetic Selective Ride Control (2003).
The strength and performance capability delivered by the C5 chassis paid huge dividends on the race track. During six years of competition, Corvette Racing – the first factory-backed Corvette team in the car's history – led the C5.R to an overall victory at the Daytona 24-hour race and three 1-2 finishes in the GTS class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. During the 2004 season, Corvette Racing won every race the team entered and captured every pole position in the American Le Mans Series.
C6: Aluminum and magnesium structure
The success of the C5.R racing program directly influenced the design of the C6 Corvette (2005 – 2013) as designers and engineers further strengthened but lightened the proven backbone design.
At a glance, the C6 chassis looks similar to the C5, but it was shortened slightly and strengthened in key areas to enable greater performance and to enhance crashworthiness. And while it retained the same basic suspension design as the C5 – short/long arm front suspension and multi-link rear suspension wîth transverse composite springs – all of the components were redesigned. No C5 suspension parts were carried over to the C6.
For the first time, different chassis were available wîth different Corvette models. The higher-performance C6 Z06 and ZR1 models received a unique, aluminum-intensive backbone structure rather than the steel backbone used on other models. It was developed as a lighter foundation, featuring a magnesium roof structure and engine cradle, and weighed only 278 pounds – 49 percent less than the steel backbone's 414 pounds. Like the steel frame, the aluminum chassis was created via hydroforming.
Corvette Racing immediately employed the C6 chassis wîth its C6.R race cars. Corvette Racing has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans seven times since 2001, most recently beating Ferrari to the checkered flag in 2011.
|AUCTION OF FIRST 2017 CHEVROLET CORVETTE GRAND SPORT COLLECTOR'S EDITION TO BENEFIT KARMANOS CANCER INSTITUTE|
|DETROIT – The first retail production 2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Collector's Edition will be auctioned Friday, April 8, in lot #3003 at 6 p.m. EDT at the Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach, Fl. Auction. One hundred percent of the sale price from the auction will benefit the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.
The auction extends General Motors' long-standing support of the Karmanos Cancer Institute, one of only 45 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers i...[Read more...]|
|SOLAR ARRAY AT CORVETTE PLANT DRIVES GM TO LEAD IN SOLAR ENERGY USE|
|• Report ranks company No. 1 among automakers in the U.S.|
DETROIT – General Motors leads the automotive industry in solar energy use in the United States, according to the Solar Means Business report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Continuing its investment in clean, renewable energy, the company will break ground later this month on an 850-kilowatt array at Bowling Green (Ky.) Assembly, home of the Chevrolet Corvette.
Bowling Green Assembly's new arra...[Read more...]
|Chevrolet celebrating Goodwood Festival of Speed with UK premiere of the Corvette Z06 supercar|
|◾UK Premiere of the award-winning Chevrolet Corvette Z06 supercar
◾Chevrolet Café invites enthusiasts to experience the world of Chevrolet performance cars
◾Special surprise planned on Friday, June 26, 2015
Zurich – On the heels of the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Chevrolet will return to another iconic gathering, the Goodwood Festival of Speed with the most impressive display of its iconic performance cars ever. In the bespoke Chevrolet Café the brand will be celebrating...[Read more...]|
|CORVETTE RACING AT LE MANS: A Chevrolet Corvette Comeback Victory|
|Gavin, Milner, Taylor Give Chevrolet, Corvette Racing an eighth class win at Le Mans
Le Mans/Zurich – Corvette Racing stood atop the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Sunday as Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor wrote the final chapter of a storybook comeback that ended with the team winning the GTE Pro category in their No. 64 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.
The trio in their No. 64 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R completed 337 laps for 2,864.50 miles in a frantic battle that ...[Read more...]|
|2017 Corvette Grand Sport Priced At $66,445|
|• Track-focused model offers 1.2g cornering, 3.6-sec. 0-60 time with Z07 package|
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Chevrolet announced today the track-bred 2017 Corvette Grand Sport will be priced at $66,445 for coupe models and $70,445 for convertibles, when they go on sale this summer. The prices include the destination charge, but not tax, title and other dealer fees.
With heritage-inspired design cues combined with track-focused chassis and suspension elements, the new Grand Sport build...[Read more...]
|NEW CHEVROLET CAMARO TESTED AND TUNED ON EIGHT TRACKS, AND THE AUTOBAHN|
|All-new Camaro makes European debut at Goodwood Festival of Speed
GOODWOOD, UK – To celebrate its return to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Chevrolet has shipped a surprise across the Atlantic for its European debut – the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. The sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro revealed today was tested and tuned on more than eight tracks around the world as well as on the Autobahn, and offers higher levels of performance, technology and refinement.
Camaro, which goes on ...[Read more...]|
|First 2015 Corvette Z06s on Their Way to Customers|
|Most capable model in Chevrolet's history now shipping from Bowling Green
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Chevrolet is now shipping the all-new 2015 Corvette Z06 coupe from Bowling Green Assembly and some early customers could receive the much-anticipated supercar later this week.
'It has been an incredible opportunity to work on Chevy's most capable model,' said Jeff Lamarche, plant manager of General Motors' Bowling Green Assembly plant, 'It truly is an amazing car, and we're thrilled...[Read more...]|
|2015 CORVETTE Z06 PRICED AT $78,995|
|• American supercar delivers unprecedented performance, technology|
DETROIT – The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 – the most powerful and technologically advanced model in the iconic car's 62-year history – will be offered at a suggested retail price of $78,995 while the convertible model will start at $83,995, Chevrolet announced today.
'The 2015 Corvette Z06's performance and technical capabilities place it in the elite fraternity of supercars,' said Harlan Charles, Corvette pro...[Read more...]
|2014 Corvette Stingray Starts At $51,995|
|The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe will have a suggested starting retail price of $51,995, and the Corvette Stingray Convertible will start at $56,995. Both prices include a $995 destination fee but exclude tax, title, and license.
'The 2014 Corvette Stingray perfectly embodies Chevrolet's mission to deliver more than expected for our customers,' said Chris Perry, vice president, Chevrolet marketing. 'The Corvette Stingray delivers a combination of performance, design and technology t...[Read more...]|