OEM Report: Automotive
Monday | 21 March, 2011 | 6:06 am

Light and fast

By Lauren Duensing

March 2011 - Amid the electric atmosphere created by crowded journalists, hundreds of flashbulbs and pounding music, automakers rolled out their new models at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show. And, as always, the materials that make up these vehicles contribute to their looks and performance.

At the show, Chevrolet introduced the Camaro ZLI, it's highest-performing Camaro with a 550 hp supercharged 6.2-L V-8 engine. The automaker hopes the 2012 launch will "continue the momentum of Camaro, propelling it into an entirely new realm of performance technology."

Development of the ZL1 is still ongoing, and official estimates of the car's capabilities will be released later in 2011.

"Camaro ZL1 is about high-tech performance and design and is a type of car no one has ever brought to this segment previously," Rick Scheidt, vice president of Chevrolet marketing, said in a press release. "it's the most technically advanced Camaro ever."

The car's performance comes from its LSA 6.2-L supercharged engine, which is built on GM's all-aluminum, small-block V-8 architecture. That big motor lives under an aluminum and carbon-fiber hood.

(For more about forming and fabricating the Camaro ZL1, see FFJournal's coverage of the 2011 Chicago Auto Show here)

2011 Chicago Auto Show Slideshow

Sculptural accents
Dodgealso focused on performance at its auto show booth. The 2011 Charger combines advanced steels, nylon composites and Chrysler Group's new second-generation, rear-wheel-drive E-segment architecture for structural stiffness.

According to a company press release, "With direct design influence from the 1968 to 1970 Dodge Charger coupes, the aluminum hood features dual scallops that bring a sculpted, performance look to the front end. The design heritage continues with large bodyside scallops that deliver a striking A-line across the doors and hark back to the Dodge Charger's high-performance heritage. Running front-to-rear is the signature horizontal 'coke bottle' door and body-side shape that provide front and rear fenders with muscular proportions for a menacing silhouette."

Also from Dodge, the Challenger boasts a redesigned 3.6-L Pentastar V-6 engine that features double-overhead camshafts and dual-independent cam phasers, integrated exhaust manifolds, polymer-coated piston skirts, forged connecting rods and a high-pressure die-cast aluminum cylinder block in a 60-degree configuration. The all-aluminum design makes the engine 45 lbs. lighter than the previous V-6, which provides a 52.4/47.6 front-to-rear weight distribution for improved balance and handling.

"To deliver the most thrilling-to-drive Challenger lineup ever, Dodge upgraded the iconic coupe's performance hardware for maximum precision and grip," said Ralph Gilles, president and CEO-Dodge Brand, Chrysler Group LLC, in a press release. "From its lighter aluminum Pentastar V-6 engine with 305 standard hp, redesigned aluminum suspension geometry with aggressive negative camber for better cornering grip, improved feel and fade-resistant braking, to a near-balanced 50/50 weight distribution, the new 2011 Dodge Challenger has the hardware to compete."

Beyond cars
Aluminum also appeared in another form on the show floor--as part of General Motors' booth. Chicago Metal Rolled Products, a contract manufacturer and job shop that specializes in tube bending, beam bending and pipe bending, fabricated GM's Hot Wheels display, which showcased the Camaro.

According to Chicago Metal Rolled Products' website, "Working closely together, Chicago Metal Rolled Products and Chicago Scenic Studios--in the course of just one week--fabricated a 20-foot tall, orange, Hot Wheels track scaled to the full-size convertible at the base of the track. Chicago Metal's plate rolling of aluminum, 8-ft. wide and 1/4-in. thick required helical bending, compound bending, off-axis bending and multiradius bending." MM

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