|C1||- 1953 to 1962|
|C2||- 1963 to 1967|
|| - 1968 to 1982
|| - 1984 to 1996
|| - 1997 to 2004
|| - 2005 to 2013
|| - The All-New 2009 Corvette ZR1
* Detroit Auto Show Images
* Added 1-16-08
|| - the Future Corvette
Chassis - An Aluminum Masterpiece
It's been said that if you want to build something strong, you must first start with a good foundation. This is true whether you are build a house, a business, a football team, or an automobile. In this effort, the C7 has come a long way. In 1953, the first Corvettes used a modified frame from a steel bodies passenger car. The chassis received upgrades during the 10-year production run of the C1 cars, but in 1963 an entirely new frame was required. The sports car had grown up and a frame that allowed for a lower stance and integrated the independent rear suspension. This 1960's technology was used up until the the end of the C3 in 1982. For the C4, and entirely new approach was taken to Corvette's frame. The frame was termed "birdcage" due to the fact the passenger cell was an integral part of the frame. The new design has some drawbacks, however. The new frame would no longer have a permanent connection between the windshield header and the b-post. The solution was to raise the side frame rails almost comically high to make the chassis stiff enough and crash worthy. Moreover, the removable roof was bolted into place, and early C4s had a cumbersome tool to remove it.
The technology ramped up with the advent of the C5's frame. The new car introduced "hydroforming", a process where a 12 foot section of tubing was placed in a tool which clamped down on the tube. In the next step, high pressure fluid was forced into the tube making the tube fit the tool creating a light, high strength frame rail. The new rail was stiffer, lighter, and allowed for a lower rail height than was possible using conventional manufacturing techniques. The process was used for the C6 as well. but special models such as the Z06 and ZR1 has frames constructed of aluminum.
Once again, building the chassis has been tweaked, this time all C7s will have an almuminum chassis. Unlike the previous aluminum chassis that was sourced from TRW, the new one will be built in a new welding shop locasted in the Bowling Green Assembly plant. The nearly 12 foot long frame rails have been replaced by five pieces, each strategically engineered for the position they occupy. Last years frame had a 2mm wall thickkness from end to end. The Sringray's frame uses sections that vary between 2mm to 11mm in thickness. The frame is built with tolerences of 1/1000 of an inch, thanks to a computer controlled laser welding system. The Sections with high loads such as suspension and engine mounting points use hollow cast aluminum extrusions that are 25 percent lighter and 20 percent stiffer than the solid core pieces used previously . The result is a paltform that is 57-percent stiffer than last years frame yet is 99 pounds lighter. This is the first application of an aluminum chassised Corvette with a removable roof panel.
Inside the passenger cell, the transmission / driveshaft tunnel is noticeably taller. Because the car sits a little lower, the exhaust system now runs through the tunnel, closed off from the drive shaft by heat defying insulation. To enable some the the heat to escape, an aluminum plate with carefully place vent holes is securely bolted to the tunnel. Even the composite floorboards have changed, swapping the balsa wood cores for a stiffer and lighter foam. A cast cross car beam continues to be used to locate the instrument panel and steering column. The new interior has the accelerator pedal hinged at the floor, a first for Corvette production cars, but a feature shown on previous show car bearring the marques namesake. The latter could almost be considered a safety feature as it should be nearly impossible for a floor mat to get trapped beneath the gas pedal.
Steering the new Corvette Stingray makes a big turn with a electric power steering replace the hydraulic assist that has been available on Corvettes since the first Sting Ray in 1963. The newest unit adjusts the amount of assist and feel based in road speed and the settings of the Drive Mode Selector. The system also incorporates the ability to change the overall steering ratio. The steering rack is now mounted directly to the front cradle increasing the stiffness by 500 percent.
A staple since 1984 is the transverse composite leaf spring suspending the front and rear of the Corvette. Thsi design continues to offer lower mass and center of gravity than more common coil over springs. An added benefit to the transverse leaf spring is that it acts a natural stabilizer. The lower control arms are now a hollow casting replacing \solid cast pieces. This process results in a nine pound weight savings overall. Bilstein provides the shock absorbers for the base and Z51 equipped cars. Piston diameters are 35mm standard and are 10mm greater on Z51s. A 3rd generation Magnetic Ride Control is optional on Z51 cars which reacts to road changes 40 percent faster the the c6's version. The front and rear tracks are nearly and inch wider than the C6, allowing for a more stable platform while contributing to a turning radius that is almost 2 feet narrower.
On the C6, Brembo brakes were exclusive to the Z06 and ZR1 Corvettes, but the C7 has them as base equipment. The fixed calipers have four pistons to apply pressure to the pads against the rotors. The rotors measure 12.6" in the front, and 13.3" in the rear. This compares to the standard rotor sizes of 12.8" F and 12.1" R for the C6. If the optional Z51 Performance package is ordered, the front rotor size is increased to 13.6" and all rotors are slotted for additional bite. The resuling performance of the new standard brakes is expected to result in a 9% improvement in stopping distances, partly due to a 35% increase in brake swept area. Last year's cross drilled rotors have been discontinued.
- 1953 to 1962
- 1963 to 1967
- 1968 to 1982
- 1984 to 1996
- 1997 to 2004
- 2005 to 2013
- The Future Corvette - 2014 to ?
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