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Mclaren Supercar

Mclaren Supercar

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Published by AutoweekUSA
The first McLaren F1 Supercar
The first McLaren F1 Supercar

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Published by: AutoweekUSA on Mar 04, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/04/2013

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I
ere have been too many silly su-percars recently. The late '80swere littered (and I use the wordadvisedly) with them. These cars
-
mostly got their presence fromcrude bulk, not beauty. They usuallyderived their speed from brute power, notclever engineering. They got their grip fromvast tires and a lack of bodyroll-mostlydue to minimal suspension travel-ratherthan to a deep understanding of the mys-teries of chassis behavior.In the main, these cars were far moreintimidating (both to drivers, and other roadusers) than they were praiseworthy.It's refreshing, then, to welcome a supercarthat is super in more ways than its sheerspeed.
In
fact, the speed angle of the newMcLaren F1, the first road car built by themost successful Grand Prix
team
of the pastdecade, is considered largely irrelevant.Top speed? "Comfortably over
200
mph,but we didn't consider it important," saysGordon Murray, technical director ofMcLaren Cars, the road car wing of the
I
acing team. Its 0-60 mph time? "Underfourseconds,butwe'renotreallysure,"he sayswithadismissiveshouldershrug.The prioritywastomakea
driver's
carratherthanmerelya
fast
car.Tomaketheworld'sbestdriver'sma- chine,McLarenneededacarthatdidaway withthecompromisesthatplaguemost otherhigh-powered"super"cars.Outwent theaskewdrivingpositionthatforceF40 andDiablodriverstopointtheirlegsone wayandtheirarmsanother.Goodbye,poor visibility,theusualblightofhavingtheen- ginebehindthedriverbutaheadoftherear axle.McLarenwouldnotcountenancebulk, thesupercarstylists'mostusualtooltoim- partaggression.Sothe carwouldhavetobe quiteslimandshortand,mostimportantof all,itwouldhavetobelight. Justasimpressive,thenewFlbristles withtomorrow'stechnology,someofwhich shouldbeseenonChevysandFordsofthe ,late'90s.Noveltiesboundtohavemass- marketsignificanceincludelaminatedglass ofsurprisinglycomplexcurvatureswhose innermembrane actsasbothheatingele- mentandtint(de-icingglassseventimes quicker than the European average, and
re-
ducing ultraviolet light intrusion by
85
per-
cent); the miniaturization of a bevy
of
items, including the stereo system and
the
transmission; novel new front and rear sus-pension designs; a central driving position,which helps accommodate three people
in
a
cabin narrower than the typical two-seatsupercar's and provides huge cost benefits(not least that the manufacturer needn'tchange from left- to right-hand drive,
or
vice versa); a new type of paint claimed
to
better protect the bodywork; and the
wide-
spread use of composites, which offer maloweight savings and safety gains over copventional steel or aluminum.One of the eight patents for
which
McLaren has applied is a composite
molding
technique which, Murray believes, couldhave great significance for major carmakesProduction of the new McLaren
F1
S
percar starts next year, before deliveriestart at the end of '93. Only 300 will.@made, at the rate of 50 a year. ~roductl"will continue till the end of the '90s. Thecosts £530,000 (the equivalent of
$971,
ooo
 
Built especially for the projectby
BMW
Motorsport, thetwin-cam, 48-valve
V12
displaces
6.1
liters andgenerates a claimed
550
hp
as
this goes to press) excluding
all
taxes. It will undergo full Eu-'Opean type approval, but will
not
be homologated for the
U.S.,
where it will have to
be
"personally imported.
"
The Fl is a smallish mid-en-Dned three-seater, which uses aPurpose-built 6.1-liter 550 hp
BMw
~12ngine. At 168.8Qches, the car is almost the samelength as a Porsche 91 1. At 71.6Qches across the beam, it's sub-$tantially wider, a corollary both
Of
the three-aside seating and theof full wishbone suspension. Nonethe-less, the Fl is from six inches to a foot nar-rower than supercars of similar performance.It's stylish, bearing more than a passing'esemblance to the Ford GT40 racer of the
T TO WEEK
JUNE
22,
1992
Not that the wind tunnel wasignored; far from it. McLarendid more than 1000 tests in itsown tunnel (also used by theFormula One team), partly toperfect a ground-effect system,and to control changes in theaerodynamic center of pressure,through which both lift anddownforce react.The ground effects are exe-cuted largely by the clever shap-ing of the car's underside. In ad-dition, extra suction is providedby a pair of fans, similar in prin-ciple to the Gordon Murray-de-signed Brabham BT 46B "fancar," which appeared at (andwon) the Swedish GrandPrix in 1978,
be-
fore being banned. As road car rules-toMurray's delight-are much less restrictivethan race car rules, he can be more imagina-tive, and thus the fan principle has returned.In a nutshell, two fans-which also helpcirculate air in the sealed engine compart-ment-are sited at the end of special tun-nels, which continue down to the floorpan.There is one fan, and one tunnel, on eachside of the car. The fans help remove turbu-lent "boundary" air from underneath the
I
car, helping to-reduce the movement of the
I
aerodynamic center of pressure, and thusgreatly improving stability.This center of pressure is also controlledby a rear spoiler, which lifts at 30 degrees tothe horizontal during heavy braking. It isthe only wing or spoiler on the car, suffi-cient downforce being generated at othertimes by the ground effects. The pop-uprear spoiler-which looks rather like anold-fashioned air brake-helpskeep the center of pressure cen-tral under heavy braking, thusputting an equal load on all fourwheels, and all four brakes (vastBrembo discs, gripped by four-pot monobloc aluminum cali-pers, as on a Formula One rac-ing car). The raised wing alsoexposes rear brake coolingducts, increasing the rear brakes'efficiency at a crucial time.McLaren says this system ob-viates the need for ABS, whichthe F1 lacks. "Current ABS sys-tems are also too inefficient,"says Murray. "They come in toosoon on high-performance cars,hurt driver feel, are heavy andcomplex. This car doesn't need
Iz
ABS. And what this car doesn'tneed, it doesn't have."
rn
The central monocoque and allbody panels
are
made from ad-'60s. The Cd is only 0.34. Murray said itvanced carbon composites,
as
on a Formula"wasn't a design consideration. We wantedOne car. Most primary structure panels area car whose styling wasn't going tobe com-double-skinned and stiffened by aluminumpromised by aerodynamics, and a car withhoneycomb. The result is immense torsionaltremendous stability in all conditions."
and
bending stiffness, and wonderfully low

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