Chevrolet’s obsession with making cars as light and strong as possible dates back to at least the days of legendary Corvette engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov in the 1950s
Today GM is keeping his legacy going strong with cars like the 2016 Camaro and the C7 Corvette.
Now in this new video, Warren Parsons, global chief architect of body structures at General Motors, walks around a skinned Corvette to explain just how the company developed the car to be lightweight, structurally rigid, and still affordable.
He talks in depth about the aluminum structure of the C7 and the Z06.
“What we have here is a combination of different aluminum construction techniques to produce the Corvette,” Parsons explains, “at a low mass and with very high performance from the body structure in terms of stiffness and energy absorption.”
The Corvette has aluminum extrusion at the front out of a 7000 series material chosen to be strong but light and offer energy absorption to protect the passenger compartment in frontal collisions, according to Parsons.
That flows into what is called the front torque box, which is a build-up of castings that provides backup support for the extrusion at the front. The cowl area at the windshield area helps resist twists and bending of the car and provides great control of the car over the chassis components, keeping them where they belong so the steering elements can direct the car as they should.
The passenger compartment has a composite floor done for stiffness at light weight. The big rocker section through the middle provides a great deal stiffness to help tie the front to the back, as does the very tall and completely closed section tunnel which is a key element in Corvette, stiffening the vehicle along its axis.
That flows to a rear torque box , which combines with the rest of the car to offer a vehicle that is stiffer and lighter than it was when made out of steel. That rigidity allows Chevy to offer a convertible version of the Z06 for the first time and not compromise the vehicle’s structural feel, Parsons says.
A lot of the feel of the vehicle is a result of the way all the components are constructed and unified together, Parsons says.
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