There’s been lots of rumors and speculation throughout the years of BMW’s M Division, particularly that they might be designing a very high performance machine, a halo car. If you don’t know what a halo car, it’s basically the embodiment of everything the company is, it’s an expression of their maximum potential, for performance, luxury, and technology. If BMW makes something resembling a halo car, it might be labeled as a successor to the original M1 from the 80’s, the one with the Lambo space frame. Which would be cool actually, because that was the only mid engined Beemer ever built. I would hope that their halo car would be a two seater, because every M that I’ve seen except for the Z4M, has been a 4 seater. Sure the M3 and M6 are coupes but honestly, check them out they are 4 seaters. What’s the point in adding that much more weight for simple seats that barely fit children? This halo car could come about in concept form maybe in 2016, I mean sure that’s the year I graduate high school, but other than that, what’s the big deal? Well, that’s the 100th anniversary of Rapp Motorenwerke, the company that BMW recognizes as it’s true start. They started off with airplane equipment, mainly engines and then went through mergers and changes to eventually become our beloved BMW. If it were me, I’d take some design cues from the 507 because I mean that was the car that was meant to compete with Merc’s 300SL, whose successor is the SLS halo car? So why not? Audi’s R8 is a two seater. Don’t get me wrong, I like the M cars, just from what I’ve heard I can tell they drive well, but none of them do it for me. Style wise, or performance wise. They’re powerful, but they don’t push boundaries, they play it safe. They need to push limits. Set trends and standards, not chase after them. These are the guys that are known for their inline 6, something a lot of companies don’t offer. Known for being the best selling brand in the world. So if in the next few years they come up with something, I hope they stay true to their roots.
In the competitive world of cars companies have to make decisions on designs that balance cost and quality. Even the minutest detail can make or break a car’s reputation. In the words of car critic Jeremy Clarkson, “there are so many choices to get from point A to point B, but so few choices that make getting there fun”. One of the most fundamentally important parts in making a driving experience fun is a suspension.
It doesn’t matter which suspension you have, they all are meant to help keep a car on the road and the commuters comfortable. They all are very similar from an engineering perspective and incorporate common principles to function. They all use some form of damping which is one means of absorbing shock, that’s what keeps the car’s occupants from feeling all of the road’s imperfections. All have arms, not biological appendages but metal pieces of various shapes that fasten the body to the wheel hub. All suspension components are included in unsprung weight, weight that is not supported by the suspension. All types of suspensions have to minimize this unsprung weight because it can affect the damping and traction that the car has. The way that different suspensions handle that task, as well as other their benefits and detriments, is unique to each type.
The most common and most cost effective suspension is the MacPherson Strut. It is easily manufactured and reliable because of its simplicity. It is a shock absorber that is connected directly to the chassis along with a single arm. It’s not the best at helping a car go around a corner and also necessitates a more complicated chassis because of its proportions. The MacPherson Strut’s more complicated counterpart is the Double-Wishbone suspension. This type of suspension uses two arms and is better at keeping a car from rolling excessively when going around a bend. This benefit is countered by higher servicing times and prices if it breaks and also the high production costs.
Those aren’t the only types of suspensions though. The multilink and air suspensions are more complex alternatives to the aforementioned suspensions. Multilink is more of a generic term, as long as a suspension has more than two arms it can be considered multilink. Air suspension uses a pneumatic system to act as a damper, which can be adjusted by changes in pressure. Again, they are both sophisticated and do their jobs well, but they are expensive to service and make.
There are advantages and disadvantages to every type of suspension and it is up to the car company to decide which one will work best with their vehicle. Suspensions are not simply a bunch of springs, they are a complex arrangement of components that keep the car stable and the passengers happy. Whenever you travel over a speed bump or a pothole, remember how much innovation and thought went into keeping that slight jolt to a minimum.
Carroll Shelby died last year at the age of 89. He is known for his work with the AC Cobra and the his company that tunes Ford Mustangs and sells performance parts. He had many racing car successes, one of which was the Shelby Daytona Coupe. It was bred to be an auto racer, and accomplished it’s goal with 10 wins at 24 hour races like Le mans, Sebring and Daytona. It also set 23 land speed records at Bonneville. All of this was accomplished between 1964 and 1965. Only six chassises were built. Along with the Ford GT40, America had beat Enzo Ferrari at Le mans, something that would go down in history no doubt. In 2004, a concept called the GR-1 was developed by Ford and bears a resemblance to the Shelby Daytona. “Yesterday’s History, Tomorrow is a mystery, so live for today,” says Carroll Shelby. GR-1