C6: the right materials in the right places.
"A mosaic of materials." That's one way that Dave Hill, Corvette chief engineer and vehicle line executive for GM Performance Cars, describes the new '05 Corvette, a.k.a. the C6, as this is the sixth generation of the legendary vehicle. As has always been the case, the exterior body panels are made of a reinforced composite material. Speaking of the look of the C6, Hill remarks, "Our aim was to bring the spirit of the Sting Ray to the 21st century." The cars of the 1963-67 period. He hastens to add that the look isn't "retro," because so far as he's concerned "retro" means "you've run out of new ideas." Under the skin there is a hydroformed steel frame. There are a multitude of aluminum and magnesium structural and chassis components (the chassis, incidentally, is all-new). For example, magnesium is used for applications including the steering wheel, pedals, and master cylinder support. There is a removable roof section that is 15% larger than the one on the C5 yet which (1) has the same stiffness as its predecessor and (2) weighs just 1 lb. more; part of the reason for its lightness are thixoformed magnesium frame and hardware components. The suspension has cast aluminum upper and lower control arms in the front and back as well as composite leaf springs. The engine block-the new 6.0L V-8 L52 engine--is produced with 319-T5 aluminum; the deep-skirted casting has cast-iron cylinder liners. The head is aluminum as well. There is a three-piece composite intake manifold. The cast-iron exhaust manifolds have sections of wall that are just 3 mm, which results in components that are 34% lighter than their predecessors. The cockpit is an aluminum weldment. The floor, like the C5, makes use of a glass-reinforced composite that employs balsa wood panels. Inside the traditional dual-cockpit interior, there are bona-fide aluminum trim bits, such as on the manual shift knob and door release buttons. The instrument panel and doors are covered with cast-skin foam-in-place trim that looks like a leather-wrapped, padded panel; it has low gloss and glare and is said to wear well. On the gage cluster there's white LED backlighting. Organic LEDs are used for the two-line information screen. There is an LCD screen in the center stack to display, for example, nav info. All of these things contribute to a car that, while smaller than its predecessor (C6: wheelbase: 106 in.; length: 175 in.; width: 73 in.; height: 49 in.--C5: wheelbase, 104.5 in.; length: 179.7 in.; width: 73.6 in.; height: 47.7 in.) is significantly lighter than that slight tightening might imply: the coupe version has a curb weight of 3,179 lb., as compared with 3,246 lb. for the C5.--GSV