2003 Chevy Corvette - Cutting Edge Technology

A Look At The Corvette's Award-Winning Suspension Advancement

Hib Halverson Nov 1, 2003 0 Comment(s)
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On relatively smooth roads near the car's limits in abrupt transitions and turns at high lateral acceleration, a MR car's small stabilizer bars show their limited roll stiffness. GM sources tell us DIY tuners can trade a little isolation to gain more roll stiffness by adding Z51 stabilizer bars to MR cars which, in the hands of a talented drivers, react well to the change.

Hard core racers, autocrossers, and very aggressive street drivers will still want either Z51s or Z06es, both of which have the bigger "stab" bars along with stiffer springs and fixed-valve shocks tuned specifically for motorsports.

MR on other Chevrolets?At this writing in early 2003, the only Chevrolets with MagneRide are the Corvette Coupe and Convertible. As time goes on, will MR be on other Chevys?

It's a possibility, but apparently, not a probability. Jeff Holland, communications representative for GM's Performance Division, the folks responsible for taking proof-of-concept vehicles, such as a straight-cab, six-speed version of the Silverado SS, a TrailBlazer SS, and a Tahoe SS shown at the 2002 SEMA Show, to production told Super Chevy, "MagneRide is certainly on the table for consideration in some of those products, but it's an expensive system. Its cost is not consistent with what many believe a Chevrolet SS-branded product should be."

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Dave Caldwell, spokesperson for GM performance car engineering issues told us, "Currently slated to get MR [other than the Corvette & Cadillac STS, which already have it] are the Cadillac XLR [a luxury roadster] and SRX [launching this summer], which is notable as the first SUV to get this technology. It's body control benefits are particularly useful for an SUV. At this time, it's not slated for other trucks. Expect this technology to remain in up-market vehicles in the foreseeable future due to cost.

"As you know from your visit to the Milford Proving Ground, there's a ton of development work in putting this system on a production vehicle. There's no compelling case right now for replacing suspensions in other vehicles-TrailBlazers or Suburbans, which perform pretty darn well as is-with MR."

Those interesting comments seem to indicate MR's body control benefits are useful on SUVs but Chevy's current top selling utes, Tahoe and Suburban, are not going to benefit from the technology in the near future.

Frankly, if there's to be a Tahoe SS, we'd like to skip On-Star and other dumb telematics options to spend our money on MagneRide shocks...oh yeah, 6L, six-speed, too.

How cool would that be?

MR Retrofit?
Interesting intel we developed in preparing this article is that it is possible to retrofit Magnetic Selective Ride Control to older C5 Corvettes originally optioned with RTD. Remove the RTD shocks and the RTD controller and replace those items with MR shocks and an MR controller. The wheel sensors are the same and RTD selector switch can be retained. The existing wiring harness can be used; however, jumpers or adapters must be fabricated to connect the RTD harness to the MR shocks and controller. This would be a time-consuming but not impossible task for a DIY experienced with electrical system modification and armed with the proper wiring diagrams. We also heard scuttlebutt that Delphi might consider developing these jumper/adapter units as an aftermarket product but, as yet, has no plans to do so.

Our search for ways to put MR on other Chevys led us to Carrera Racing Shocks, an Atlanta, Georgia, manufacturer of high-end racing and performance street shock absorbers. In the mid-'90s, Carrera chairman, Dick Anderson, after learning of the MRF technology Lord Corporation was developing for dampers used in heavy, on- and off-highway vehicle seat assemblies, decided the motorsports shock absorber industry would eventually incorporate electronics into its high-end products.


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