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C8’s Exposed V8: Designers, engineers had to learn from each other to create its look

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  • C8’s Exposed V8: Designers, engineers had to learn from each other to create its look

    From this weeks issue of Automotive News (2 Dec 2019) Check out the part where the design team had to design a Corvette Specific bolt style because they did not like the preapproved GM bolts.

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    Designers, engineers had to learn from each other to create 'Vette's exposed V-8
    Engineers who worked on the 2020 Corvette's engine, which is visible from the outside of the car, had to make sure its looks were as impressive as its performance.

    On Chevrolet's upcoming midengine Corvette, there's no need to ask what's under the hood. Its engine is visible through a clear hatch in the body. That meant engineers not only had to put up impressive horsepower and torque numbers, they also had to make sure the looks of the V-8 matched its performance. If the Corvette were a ring, its designers said, the engine would be its jewel.

    "The engine really was intended all along to be a kind of showpiece of the car," said Mike Kociba, General Motors' assistant chief engineer for small block engines. "There is now a window. You can see into our world directly for the first time."

    A polycarbonate insert in the engine compartment cover behind the driver exposes the 490-hp, 6.2-liter V-8, which means every part that can be seen had to be painted and finished.

    "Engineers, we're very functional. Every feature, facet you see of course is purposeful, but generally in our mindset, it's just purposeful," Kociba said. "Now you want to take that extra step and say it not just has a function, it has a style. That really takes us out of our comfort zone."

    Design and performance

    The engineers and designers went back and forth for about a year before finalizing an engine that achieved their design and performance goals. At times, the two teams had to break through a language barrier of sorts before making progress.

    "The first time I tried to explain beautification [to the engineers], they looked at me like I had three eyes," said Paul Arnone, lead creative designer for performance interiors.

    Designers would say, for example, that the black shade on certain components wasn't "warm enough."

    "It's almost a whole different language that they use. As an engineer, I have no idea what temperature has to do with color," Kociba said.
    "As you start working with them and they show you different examples, it absolutely makes sense."

    The team wanted the 2020 Corvette engine to be on par with that of a Ferrari or Lamborghini. "Even though we didn't have the same price point, we still need to execute just as well," Arnone said.

    Designers pored over the finishes on each component and made sure everything was in "color harmony," he said. For parts that are less attractive, they toned down the finish and made the colors less eye-grabbing.

    The red engine cover is aggressive and looks high-tech, said Kirk Bennion, the Corvette's exterior design manager. "It has a little bit of spinal quality in the veins going down the middle. It sets a different tone of the car. It's not timid or anything like that. It's a provocative part."

    But it isn't just for show. It also keeps components in place and is "integrated into the workings of the engine," Arnone said.

    GM plans to start building the 2020 Corvette in February in Bowling Green, Ky. The automaker has invested $439 million over the past four years to ready the factory with new production equipment, a new paint shop and a low-volume engine production facility called the Performance Build Center.

    No baseline

    With the move to a midengine layout, engineers and designers faced a unique challenge with the Corvette: no benchmark to start from.
    "We were creating a baseline for this rather than looking at previous designs as a benchmark. There was a steep learning curve," said Guy Samuels, GM's creative designer for performance interiors.

    They worked through several concurrent proposals over more than a year.

    Designers touched nearly every component under the hood and hatch "just to make sure the car was truly and wholly designed and it just wasn't piecemealed together," Arnone said.

    The design team even created a bolt style for the Corvette because it didn't like any of GM's preapproved bolts. Designers were part of the engineering conversation, which "lends itself to us having creative opportunity firsthand," Bennion said.

    When designing the bolts, the team drew inspiration from Ducati motorcycles. "All their bolts are internal drive, and they have a nice finish to them. They don't scratch or mark," Arnone said.

    Some of GM's engineering criteria prohibited bolts with an internal drive, so the team created a dual-drive bolt, which has a cleaner, more stylized look.

    "It's unique to the Corvette right now. It was definitely a different aspect of my job," Arnone said. "I've been doing this for a while, and I've never helped develop a bolt."
    Last edited by CorvetteBlogger; 12-04-2019, 10:36 AM.
    Bill Strobel
    Fayetteville, NC
    1979 Corvette Original Owner

    "Do It Right or Don't Do It At All"

  • #2
    Great find theamcguy! We thank you for this article, e.g., now a featured slider.
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    • #3
      The design team even created a bolt style for the Corvette because it didn't like any of GM's preapproved bolts. Designers were part of the engineering conversation, which "lends itself to us having creative opportunity firsthand," Bennion said.
      When designing the bolts, the team drew inspiration from Ducati motorcycles. "All their bolts are internal drive, and they have a nice finish to them. They don't scratch or mark," Arnone said.
      Photos seem to indicate a mix of black oxide Torx and "recessed" head hex bolts.

      Click image for larger version

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      • #4
        Grazie Mille Bill...great read!!!

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        • #5
          I knew there was a reason I used st-st Allen head bolts on my valve covers and black oxide Allen head bolts on my headers (when I had then on).
          Save the wave.

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          • #6
            very cool article ... too bad you can't see the engine in the convertible

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            • #7
              “A polycarbonate insert in the engine cover behind the driver...”
              Is the hatch considered the engine cover? All I could see was the outer hatch window with the defogger lines which looked like real glass.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ZL-1 View Post
                “A polycarbonate insert in the engine cover behind the driver...”
                Is the hatch considered the engine cover?
                That was my interpretation of their statement.

                Some past engine "windows" (like on the C6 Z06) were polycarbonate I believe, but I'll bet the C8 rear hatch is just standard safety glass.
                Upcoming Vette:
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mobius View Post

                  That was my interpretation of their statement.

                  Some past engine "windows" (like on the C6 Z06) were polycarbonate I believe, but I'll bet the C8 rear hatch is just standard safety glass.
                  Ya, for safety reasons the rear glass would be a polycarbonate AKA bullet proof glass. The rear hatch doesn't require that level of safety. IMHO
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                  • #10
                    I wanted a refresher to confirm I was properly visualizing a dual-drive bolt.

                    Click image for larger version

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                    Lifetime, annual contributors, and 20+ year members of National Corvette Museum.

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                    • #11
                      Great read! Thanks for posting.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by John View Post
                        I wanted a refresher to confirm I was properly visualizing a dual-drive bolt.

                        Click image for larger version  Name:	26F947F7-F2F6-4AE2-B3F7-B4014491BD4D.jpeg Views:	50 Size:	78.1 KB ID:	93773
                        I was wondering about that. So GM's standards "prohibit" internal drive bolts. Does that mean they're using the external hex for assembly, and the internal hex is just for show? And maybe for use by mechanics later?

                        When designing the bolts, the team drew inspiration from Ducati motorcycles. "All their bolts are internal drive, and they have a nice finish to them. They don't scratch or mark," Arnone said.
                        Some of GM's engineering criteria prohibited bolts with an internal drive, so the team created a dual-drive bolt, which has a cleaner, more stylized look.
                        And they're giving Ducati a little too much credit. I had a Honda motorcycle in the 70s with all Allen head fasteners. I had to replace the phillips head screws myself, but it still had all internal drive fasteners when I was done.
                        Last edited by meyerweb; 12-03-2019, 11:34 PM.
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                        • #13
                          Unless that large plastic engine cover is functional they fell a little short of ferrari/lamborghini unfortunately, but I am sure they had good reason, I am guessing it was a cost decision, which is fine, the price they came in at is spectacular.
                          Last edited by z8ra; 12-04-2019, 12:04 AM.

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                          • #14
                            "The first time I tried to explain beautification [to the engineers], they looked at me like I had three eyes," said Paul Arnone, lead creative designer for performance interiors.
                            Designers would say, for example, that the black shade on certain components wasn't "warm enough."
                            "It's almost a whole different language that they use. As an engineer, I have no idea what temperature has to do with color," Kociba said.

                            As an engineer myself, I can fully appreciate the different views brought by both teams. This can be challenging but I’m sure it was fun to pull it off as successfully as this appears to have been.
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