The Corvette Z06 Challenge: Make it lighter, make it faster
For GM, pushing the performance envelope on the 2001 Z06 was essential to that end, GM issued Arvin the challenge: Design and manufacture a new exhaust solution that is lighter weight than stainless steel systems, meets underbody packaging constraints and contributes to making this car the highest performance Corvette ever.
The Corporate Collaboration: A Titanium system
Arvin, the leading global designer and producer of original equipment exhaust systems, first began investigating the use of the titanium in 1993 for its light weight, strength and corrosion resistance. For years Arvin worked with TIMET, the largest titanium manufacturer and distributor in the world, on projects exploring titanium automotive applications. In response to the GM criteria, Arvin recognized an optimal new exhaust system could be made from Titanium and the firms partnered to deliver the solution.
The Aerospace Metal: Providing unique benefits
Titanium is a staple of aerospace due to its high strength-to-weight ratio and is essential in many industrial processes due to its natural corrosion resistance. It is the fourth most abundant structural element, occurring as rutile ore in common black beach sand, which is frequently mined in Australia. TIMET refines the ore and processes the metal at its manufacturing facilities in the United States.
The Remarkable Result: Racing Technology in a street car
The 26-pound titanium muffler and tailpipe assembly replaces a 44-pound stainless steel system. The 41% weight savings means improved performance: Faster acceleration, better handling, higher cornering speeds, shorter braking distances and increased fuel economy. In addition, titanium's natural corrosion resistance and durability give the system a virtually unlimited life span. The achievements in titanium manufacturing, exhaust design and testing will contribute to future advances in exhaust systems and a broader use of titanium on mass-produced vehicles.
Innovative Design - For Function And Fabrication
The Arvin design addresses the differences between titanium and stainless steel, including characteristics such as springback, vibration and resonance frequency. New muffler components were custom developed for titanium fabrication and a unique acoustic tone, to meet GM sound requirements.
A New Grade Of Titanium - For Mass Production
To meet both performance and production rate demands, TIMET and Arvin collaborated to develop a new exhaust grade of commercially pure titanium. Special surface conditioning allows efficient fabrication to help meet the cost criteria set by GM for using titanium on a performance car.
Lightweight and Strength - For Z06 Performance
The titanium system is as strong as steel, but weighs just 26 pounds - 41% less than a comparable stainless steel system. The reduced weigh translates to improved performance and increased fuel efficiency.
Corrosion Immunity and Durability - For Unlimited Life
Titanium has a natural oxide layer that provides immunity to external corrosion from road salts, as well as to internal corrosion from sulfur-rich engine exhaust. The system will experience no pitting or rusting, even at the welds. Corrosion immunity also means the exhaust is designed with no to the weight savings. In a production vehicle, the system will far outlast anything made of stainless, resulting in fewer warranty claims and increased customer satisfaction.
T-3 - Titanium, Technology and Testing
When titanium emerged as the solution to the GM performance challenges, the manufacturing technology to produce titanium mufflers in mass-market quantities didn't exist. Working with TIMET to optimize an exhaust grade of titanium, Arvin successfully adapted its stainless steel stamping, bending, cold forming and welding methods to accommodate the structure differences between stainless and titanium. New testing and computer models were also developed to ensure GM durability requirements were met, determine optimum proprietary process development technology under the name T-3 for titanium, technology and testing.
Aesthetic Appeal - For the Corvette Look and Sound
To create the distinctive Z06 exhaust outlet scoop, Arvin developed new technology to cut the metal on an angle and curl it on a tight radius. Further showcasing the unique look, titanium's oxide film takes on shimmering tones of blues, purples and golds as exhaust raises the temperature of the pipes. These colors evidence and enhance titanium's natural corrosion resistance. Finally, to generate the singular Corvette exhaust resonance, Arvin designed a new internal muffler configuration and used advanced acoustic techniques to tune the muffler.
Green Metal - For Environmental Responsibility
Titanium is environmentally sound. It is completely inert, non-toxic, 100% recyclable and its production leaves no harmful by-products. Titanium does not degrade or release anything into the air, water or ground.