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C7 Corvette : The Chassis Tadge Juechter Built

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  • C7 Corvette : The Chassis Tadge Juechter Built

    C7 Corvette: The Chassis Tadge Juechter Built

    Tadge Juechter’s Genesis Program C7 Chassis

    K. Scott Teeters Jan 4, 2019
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    ICS 263 C7 Chassis 1 View Full Gallery

    The C6 Corvette was a much-improved C5 and was well received upon release. Fans liked the crisp new look, the new interior (for a while) and the extra grunt. Since the successful arrival of the performance Z06 model in 2001, every new generation Corvette is expected to have a Z06. Within minutes of the C6’s debut, the next question was, “Where’s the Z06?” The following year when the C6 Z06 was unleashed, there was an unanticipated surprise: an aluminum chassis.

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    This wasn’t on anyone’s wish list and was a total surprise. It wasn’t even on Zora Arkus-Duntov’s Christmas list. Weighing in at just 3,132 pounds, you have to go back to 1964 to find a lighter Corvette (3,125 pounds). Powered by the mighty 427 LS7 engine with 505 net horsepower, with C5-R suspension technology, the C6 Z06 was better suited for the track, although many learned how to drive the new beast successfully on the street. The C6 Z06’s aluminum chassis had no trouble handling the 638 horsepower in the ZR1 configuration.


    When Tadge Juechter’s C7 Corvette debuted, fans were stunned to learn that the base model C7 was built upon an even better version of the Z06’s aluminum chassis. The same new aluminum chassis would be used for the coupe and convertible Corvette. This was a major breakthrough and bespeaks of advanced engineering. Here’s how Juechter’s team did it.


    Juechter’s objective was to build a modern performance car that delivered an enhanced driving experience, more efficiency that yielded more performance. Every element had to contribute to the overall performance and there would be nothing fake. That explains everything that we see on the C7 Corvette, but what’s unseen is even more amazing.

    2/5

    As we learned from the C5 with its hydroformed side rails, stiffness matters. Juechter is on record stating that while hydroforming was an engineering game-changer, the downside is that parts have a uniform thickness; even in areas where it isn’t needed. Hydroformed parts cannot be tailored for areas that need greater or less strength. Enter the Genesis Software Program.

    This is almost computer magic. Engineers first determine the overall block space they want: length, width and height. Then they determine where they want to place the major components: engine, transmission, suspension assemblies and cabin parts, etc. This creates negative spaces where the structure needs to be to hold everything together. The Genesis Program then synthesizes an optimum structure so that engineers can then take the load design and break it down into parts that can be fabricated and joined together. Afterwards, dynamic stress and crash testing is performed and parts modified to meet predetermined objectives.

    The C7’s hydroformed aluminum framerails were optimized for the best the aluminum industry could offer in terms of tensile strength, lightness and materials-joining technology. New aluminum metallurgy and aluminum fastening technologies allow engineers to augment the hydroformed frame with 7000-series aluminum extrusions designed for specific areas, such as,engine/front suspension assembly, transaxle/rear suspension assembly mounting points and frontal collision areas.

    Careful consideration to the placement of a major component was also critical. Juechter’s team felt that the C6 was slightly nose-heavy. Components were adjusted so that the C7 is now rear-biased, allowing more load on the rear wheels for better traction at launch, like a race car. The front wheels were moved forward 1 inch, making the wheelbase 106.7 inches. This is the longest wheelbase Corvette ever made. The shortest was the C4, measuring 96.2 inches. Moving the wheels forward also allowed for more space under the hood for the new LT1 engine and various auxiliary systems. This also preserved “crash space” in the front.

    3/5

    Offering an aluminum frame for the coupe and convertible was a big challenge for the team. But because the basic frame structure is so strong, it didn’t need additional roof structure via a fixed roof. The net result is that not only can the Z06 and ZR1 have lift-off roof panels, both can be offered as a convertible. This was unimaginable for the C5 Z06, C6 Z06, and the C6 ZR1. According to Ed Moss, the C7 structural engineer group manager, his engineering team tailored 16 different thicknesses of various grades of aluminum from 11mm to 2mm. The completed C7 aluminum frame is 100 pounds lighter than the C6’s steel frame and is 60 percent stiffer. Juechter said that engineers consider the C7’s aluminum chassis to be the most beautiful part of the C7.

    The C7 frame was also designed for aerodynamic efficiency. In the past, engineers tended to only consider how air passed over and under a performance car. The C7 literally breathes. Spaces under the car’s skin and in between the chassis structure were designed for the internal ducting for engine cooling, brakes, transmission and differential cooling and venting. Other spaces allowed for electrical and plumbing fixtures for coolant, fuel and air-conditioning ducting.

    The C7 design team worked closely with the Corvette Racing Team on airflow management because even race cars are concerned about fuel consumption, as well as top speed dynamics and stability. Two of the most obvious ducting and venting features is the air extractor on the hood and the NACA ducts on the top of the rear fenders.

    Taking a lesson from the C6.R Corvette race cars, the C7’s radiator is tilted forward. One third of the air that passes through the radiator is vented out of the hood. The hood louvers are angled so that the exiting air flows tightly over the car, creating additional downforce to the nose of the car; thus eliminating the dreaded nose lift.

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    Heat exchangers (radiators) for the transmission were placed in the back, close to the transaxle with air ducted through the NACA duct feeding into the heat exchangers and then vented out through vents next to the taillights. This is just another example of how every element on the C7 has a defined purpose.

    All of the foundational work that went into the C7’s chassis laid down a structure what was easily adaptable to the $2,780 Z51 suspension option that included performance brakes with slotted rotors, dry-sump oil system, suspension upgrades, special wheels and tires, electronic limited-slip differential with a cooler, performance gearing and an aero package. The Z51 was for drivers that wanted to use more of the C7’s 460 horsepower and explore the pleasures of the C7’s superior structure.

    The 2015 Z06 with its supercharged 650-horsepower LT4 engine, widebody, suspension and tire enhancements work wonderfully with the C7’s basic structure. The same can be said for the 755-horsepower ZR1; the basic structure is up to the task. Arguably, the most interesting use of available C7 components is the Grand Sport. It has the aggressive-looking Z06 body and suspension parts that take using the base model’s 460 horsepower to a whole new level.

    I will now go out on a limb. At the C7 ZR1 debut in 2018, Juechter said that his engineers had taken the C7 as far as they could with the ZR1. Are they working on a C9 Corvette to sell alongside the mid-engine C8? If so, will it be built on a carbon-fiber chassis? When it comes to Corvettes, things always evolve upward. Vette

    5/5

    Graphics by K. Scott Teeters. Images from GM Archives
    Rocket City Florida

  • #2
    Talk of a C9 already? Let’s get that C8 released first.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well done explanation, Frenzy! I don't think you are going out on a limb, at all, in your closing sentence! I would suggest the alleged "C9" has been in development for some time.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Meldoon View Post
        Talk of a C9 already? Let’s get that C8 released first.
        Given the lead time for automotive development, if there will be a C9 GM has probably already started preliminary design activities.
        SunKissed, my 2015 2LT, 7MT, Black over Daytona Sunrise Orange Metallic, Stingray convertible (One of about 40)

        Purchased 5/2/2015,
        27,000+ miles

        Proud member of the Old Dominion Corvette Club. Check us out http://www.olddominioncorvetteclub.org

        Comment


        • #5
          Thank you Frenzy36 for finding and posting this great C7 information!
          Some many questions about the ME right now; so few concrete answers yet!

          Excited owners of a 2015 Z06. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 20 year members of NCM. A ME C8 Corvette is coming next.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Frenzy36
            I will now go out on a limb. At the C7 ZR1 debut in 2018, Juechter said that his engineers had taken the C7 as far as they could with the ZR1. Are they working on a C9 Corvette to sell alongside the mid-engine C8?
            I am totally with your first sentence, yet respectfully disagree with your second one. Why?

            The Corvette team is a tiny, minuscule, almost microscopic part of GM, and even though they “borrow” a few staff from other parts of GM at times, even so, the massive amount of time, and development work, and budget (approaching $1B already, and we now, additionally, we seem to have another year of C8 ME’s development costs to add to it), and similar constraints, IMO GM has moved to the mid engine as it sole Corvette, leaving as many have suggested, the Camaro to be GM front end sports car.

            I know many Corvette lovers are offended by the idea of considering the Camaro as a sports car, but on a track, in 2018 a production Camaro beat both a Porsche 911 GT3 and a McLaren 720.

            The C8 is a massive, Thanksgiving-sized platter to develop, with not just its mid engine flat form structure, being the 48V “tip of the technogical spear” for GM mainstream product, but also the ME’s hybrid/AWD versions. Not to mention the later an all electric Cadillac version to be called something like an e-Ray.



            Some many questions about the ME right now; so few concrete answers yet!

            Excited owners of a 2015 Z06. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 20 year members of NCM. A ME C8 Corvette is coming next.

            Comment


            • #7
              John, we disagree here. I firmly believe the merit of an involvement in the historic, front engine sports car is not going away. The additional fiscal aspects to continuing the front engine design is extremely difficult to dispel.

              While the makeup of Corvette's R & D team is beyond my knowledge level, I cannot believe that one of the only profitable divisions of GM is being understaffed. Of course, no one believes that added staff is there, or even necessary, but the continuation of a front engine model does not need huge human outlay in the office. It is a evolution of what has been the norm for decades.

              Comment


              • #8
                You are absolutely correct, that we do have 180 degree, divergent opinions on this. Only the future will tell for sure, and when and if we see both the FE and the ME being build at BGA at the same time, I will readily acknowledge that you were right. Though I am not yet ready to get me a portion of eating-crow-pie today.

                And you are also correct that continuing a front engine does not involve a huge human outlay — except of course if there are two assembly lines which means twice the labor costs. That is, as we both agree another point in which we differ, e.g., I say it makes no economic sense to have two separate assembly lines, yet you and Skank believe the plant’s size was increased to include that purpose.

                We had better get our baker to start on “two humble pies” for our two different major differences.
                Click image for larger version  Name:	2EBDA30A-AB99-46B9-9C87-37F82A3D37AA.jpeg Views:	1 Size:	130.0 KB ID:	21703
                Picture thanks to the “povertyproject.”
                Looking forward to our ME arriving.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have eaten humble pie a lot — though never when I was a teenager for I was never wrong then LOL. I will eat humble pie down the road on many things relating to Corvettes, though not yet willing to concede on those two issues.

                  Click image for larger version

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                  Some many questions about the ME right now; so few concrete answers yet!

                  Excited owners of a 2015 Z06. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 20 year members of NCM. A ME C8 Corvette is coming next.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Meldoon View Post
                    Talk of a C9 already? Let’s get that C8 released first.
                    I like your idea. Let us get the C8 released first!
                    Some many questions about the ME right now; so few concrete answers yet!

                    Excited owners of a 2015 Z06. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 20 year members of NCM. A ME C8 Corvette is coming next.

                    Comment

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