Clean Slate

Also from Issue 81

  • 60th Anniversary Salute: C4
  • Buyer’s Guide: C4
  • Supercharged 2003 Convertible
  • 1973 COPO Coupe
  • GM Heritage Center
  • Guldstrand 1965 Restomod
  • Profile: Gib Hufstader
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Frame

When the C6 Z06 debuted as a 2006 model, its aluminum frame was a big breakthrough. Lighter and stiffer than its steel counterpart, the structure paid immediate dividends in term of performance. However, the frame’s design was compromised by the fact that it had to fit in exactly the same space as the steel version and use all the same pick-up points during the assembly process. Because of this, the material’s usage could not be optimized. With the 2014 Stingray, no such design limitations existed; the car’s aluminum chassis is all-new and takes advantage of the latest in alloy construction techniques.

Instead of using hydroformed frame rails with a continuous 4-mm wall thickness from front to rear, the C7’s rails are composed of five different segments of varying compositions. Referred to as “crash cans,” the outermost segments are 2.4-mm aluminum extrusions. These are attached to ultra-strong cast nodes to which the suspension is directly mounted. The hydroformed middle rail is 3.8-mm thick. Combined with a larger tunnel section and additional bracing, these new rails result in a frame that is 22-percent stiffer than its alloy forerunner. That might not sound like much, but the Z06 chassis is a closed-roof design, unlike the Stingray’s open-top layout. The two frames weigh about the same, but the C7’s structure is 99 pounds lighter than a steel C6 frame and a whopping 57-percent stiffer.

Whereas the C6’s aluminum frames were provided by an outside supplier, the new ones will be constructed in-house at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant. A $52-million investment in the facility converted the former Cadillac XLR production line into the new frame shop.

Suspension

Though the C7’s basic suspension design is carried over—short/long double wishbones with transverse-mounted composite springs—individual parts have been upgraded. New hollow-cast aluminum front and rear cradles are approximately 25-percent lighter and 20-percent stiffer than the solid cradles used previously. Similarly, hollow lower control arms shed about nine pounds per vehicle and new aluminum rear toe links save 2.4 pounds over the previous steel links.

The standard Stingray features 35mm-piston Bilstein monotube shocks, while Z51-equipped cars feature 45mm-piston units. The Z51 can be coupled with an upgraded, third-generation version of Magnetic Selective Ride Control, which features a new twin-wire/dual-coil damper system that reacts 40-percent faster than before, providing both improved ride comfort and superior body control.