Titanium springs keep Ferrari lean

June 3, 2004
Recently introduced in the U.S., the Ferrari Challenge Stradale weighs in at 243 lb less than the 360 Modena on which it's based.

Recently introduced in the U.S., the Ferrari Challenge Stradale weighs in at 243 lb less than the 360 Modena on which it's based. It is said to be the first production vehicle to use titanium suspension springs throughout.

Italian manufacturer CIMA S.p.A., makes the springs from elastically wound coils of Timetal LCB supplied by TiMET Automotive, Morgantown, Pa. The titanium front springs are claimed to yield a 39% weight savings over highstrength steel, and 28% savings in the rear springs.

Titanium alloy springs have long served in aerospace applications because of their high strength and low mass. But, high strength has come only through time-consuming and expensive processing methods, such as numerous cold work steps, that are too expensive for automotive use. The Challenge Stradale titanium springs get around the problem through use of a patented alloy. The strength of Timetal LCB comes from alloy chemistry rather than additional processing procedures. Extensive cold work and extended aging are unnecessary. Age times are compatible with the thermal cycles currently used for steel-spring processing.

The lighter titanium springs also improve ride and handling. In suspension design, low relative unsprung weight is critical to traction and ride quality. The lower the unsprung weight, the faster these components react to road surface imperfections, maintaining traction. The suspension transfers less shock to the body, improving ride. Also, according to a Ferrari spokesperson, the corrosion benefits of titanium outweigh that of steel, which requires a protective coating.

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