Automotive Suspension

     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. 


Autonomous Vehicles: Does the Future of Driving Look Bleak?

BMW, Mercedes, Audi. Each have their own name for their self driving and semi-autonomous driving systems. All of them are known for a good and great cars here and there ( on Top Gear UK they ranked BMW 3rd for having the greatest number of great cars :D). But those cars are not autonomous, that’s what makes them great. Any petrol head ought to know what a manual transmission is and that it is good for feeling connected to the car and in turn connected to the road and the whole driving experience. Any of us petrol heads knows that we prefer oversteer, which means we lean towards rear wheel drive (although Audi has a pretty sweet “Quattro” setup). In the cars of the future, it looks as though they wont be thinking of petrol heads, we might not be able to even drive cars (though that’ll take awhile if it has to happen)! We won’t be integrated into that moment of excitement and adrenaline that is out dragging another car or going ’round a corner just right. I’m not saying all cars will autonomous, I don’t know the future. But I am frightened for the youth who won’t even know what a transmission or an engine is because we’ve gone all electric, or what even a steering wheel was because they will never have to drive. Hopefully there will still be tracks and NASCAR and Formula 1, but who knows? There will definitely be museums, but is that the way we want to be remembered? Some six-year-old dragged through a assortment of odd exhibits begging to get out of the solemn and silent place? Not caring about what’s in there, all he knows is it’s boring history. I hope that we are never forgotten. The picture below is the Bugatti Veyron, the ultimate car.


Ferrari versus Lamborghini

Exotic super-car. The first thing to come to my mind is something probably Italian, something expensive, something exclusive, maybe a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. Both make cars that are fast, they both have beautiful designs, both still believe in V12’s. So, what’s the difference? It’s all down to personal preference but there are a few things that might help you choose.

First off, Ferrari is older by 34 or so years. Now, Ferrari was just building racing cars and sponsored drivers until in 1947 which is when they started to manufacture street legal cars. So the difference is not quite huge but the still are relatively far apart as Lamborghini was founded in 1963. If you’re into older cars and are looking for cars that from before 1960, you won’t find any Lamborghini that fits your criteria. 

I find that the essence of each company is different as well. In my opinion Ferrari puts more emphasis on luxury, Lamborghini is more aggressive. I don’t mean that Ferraris are for just cruising because they’re not. They have super car performance and loads of technology that’s race oriented like their E-diff and flappy paddle gearboxes. The same for Lamborghini, they’re not just for thrashing about noisily. You don’t own a Lamborghini just for the track (unless that’s all you do or you’re a racing team). They have creature comforts like air conditioning, they have computer power such as ion current analysis ( the computer uses the flow of ions during combustion to check up on the engine). They also have loads of leather and some are equipped with power folding side mirrors. Ferrari just seems to elude to comfort with their front engined models that have comfort modes and spacious trunks. Lamborghini seems to place more emphasis on racing with aggressive styling and scissor doors and astonishing performance times (the Aventador gets 0-60 mph in 3 seconds flat with a top speed of 217 mph).

So anything else? Well, there is a story about the two men that founded their respective companies. Ferruccio Lamborghini staked his claim in the agriculture business by starting a company that sold tractors. He was soon wealthy and had enough passion for cars as to purchase several including; some Alfa Romeos, some Lancias, a Mercedes 300SL, a Jaguar E-type coupé, and eventually the car that “left all the other cars in the garage”,a Ferrari. He really admired the Ferrari’s he collected over the years but he always felt that the clutches were terrible and that they would keep slipping. So he went to Enzo Ferrari himself and gave his complaints. What did Ferrari have to say about that? “Lamborghini, you may be able to drive a tractor, but you’ll never be able to handle a Ferrari properly”. From then on Lamborghini set off to design the perfect car.

So to conclude this I will say that I do like Lamborghini just a tiny bit more. They are ridiculous but in a good way, they’re outright fast, they sound terrific, they look amazing, they’re redonkulously expensive but also exclusive, but to me the story behind it is what makes Lamborghini complete.