Okay gals and GearHeads, are you relaxing during the slow part of the season? Well there has been no let up in the news of the automotive world, such as the C8 Corvette. So let’s call this the year of the C8 and without further adieu, dive into the inner workings of the C8 as promised last column.
Tadge Juechter, Chief Engineer over at Chevrolet had a recent convo with the guys over at Autoline. Here is a few key takeaway points he shared; this goes back to about 2005 when they were working on the C6 ZO6 Corvette. The weight of the supercharger resulted in 52% front weight, when they started musing about what a mid-engine car would be like. They began their studies which ultimately resulted in a 60/40 weight split rear to front.
They had to start with a clean sheet of paper to design this new car from the ground up, starting with the transaxle. They went out and bought a Ferrari and tore it all down to look at everything. They had to design a suspension system that would result in neutral steering along with comfort as well as performance handling.
They had to make some compromises such as the center of gravity (CG) which is higher than the earlier Vettes. This came from replacing the transverse leaf springs with coilovers. All of this along with the transaxle resulted in a heavier car. They had to go with an automatic transmission because they just could not find anything else out in the world that would do the job for a manual gearbox. But they did provide this unique dual pedal neutral which will allow the car to coast when you push in the pedal.
Moving into the cabin, they faced a number of challenges. They designed extra tilt extensions so a 7-foot guy could get in there. They built in roomy storage compartments front and rear along with custom luggage.
And we will now introduce the word of the day: squircles … Yes, Elmer you heard that right. This has to do with the design of the squared steering wheel. It gives the 7-foot guy the legroom along with the ability for the short guy to view the heads up display (HUD) over the steering wheel.
They had a number of acoustics challenges to overcome. With the engine in the rear, there was a lot of noise emanating from all of those belts and pulleys up front. Of course, all GearHeads want to hear the roar of that power plant back there. This resulted in innovative approaches to sound architecture, starting with a back window twice as thick incorporated into a reinforced structure that would act as a sound barrier. What is even cooler is that the rear window can be lowered independently to provide that flow through ventilation.
Next came some really innovative design work incorporating air ducting to maximize the acoustics of the intake and exhaust notes. Then of course, everybody knows that GearHeads like to rock out in their rides. Placement of the Bose speakers presented quite the challenge. They managed to come up with the loudest system yet. So pick your poison drivers and riders.
Construction of the entire car resulted in many different composite materials in and out. Then not to forget European sales and of course, the Aussies. But no problem, they simply had to tool mirror image parts to create the right hand drive.
Now let’s take a look at some of the funky stuff. There is the GPS hydraulics. Wherever you encounter such things as steep driveways where you might scrape your front splitter, you can program your hydraulic suspension to raise up the front of the car for clearance at the touch of a button. Your GPS will remember 1000 different locations.
Then it appears that the Chevy engineers took a page out of the Tesla build book by developing their over-the-air software updates. A 24-hour hotline is monitored by the engineers. When any car develops a unique problem they will receive the readout and develop a fix within a 24-hour window.
So there you go guyz and galz. A few key takeaways from the borning of the C8 Corvette. As this world-beating sports car continues to win Car of the Year awards, their debut on the racetrack is approaching. We will see it at the 24 hours of LeMans. I am quite sure there will be a crowd.
As 2019 came to a close, we recognize the passing of more Motorsports pioneers such as, Junior Johnson, Bill Simpson and Bruce Crower. We are all marching to the same place.
There is a ton of new news coming down from the electrical vehicle (EV) front. But we wanted to give an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle front and center this time around. Oh, and is an electrficationable future in line for the C8? I’m afraid so.
I would like to leave you with a few tidbits from the legislative front. The RPM bill has been reintroduced for 2020. If you want to help us all out, you can go on back over to the SEMA site And send word to your congressmen. They have another template there , that you can easily fill out and send. Also this marks 5 years since the United States Motorsports Association (USMA) was formed to help with these issues.
Then we have US Representative Debbie Dingell who is introducing the Electrify Forward Act, designed to use billions of tax dollars to move electrification forward in the Auto industry. Just thought I would dangle that in front of y’all.
Chuck Fasst #GearHeadsWorld