In 1953 Chevrolet shocked the world with what would ultimately prove to be a powerhouse in sports cars when they came out with the Corvette. As basic as the Corvette stared out as it has evolved into one of the top performing sports cars in the world bar none.
One of the most significant developments for the Corvette came in the first year of the C2 generation of the Vette when in 1963 the all new Corvette Sting Ray featured an independent rear suspension for the first time in Vette history. Now the standard, it seems odd to think of a Corvette without the best of the best in handling and performance parts.
The independent rear suspension that was created for the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray was designed by Corvette legend Zora Arkus-Duntov. Duntov’s design was both effective and simple and basically was a differential that was frame mounted with half shafts that were u-jointed and were all tied together by a leaf spring that was transverse. This unique design was inspired from the CERV I concept and was brought to life brilliantly.
The struts were rubber cushioned and carried the differential, which allowed the all new Sting Ray to improve tire contact and reduce the harshness of the ride. This worked especially well on rougher roads. The transverse leaf spring found its home on the differential case as it was there that it was bolted on.
From there a control arm was slightly extended forward and laterally from both sides of the case and connected to a hub carrier that had a radius rod trailing behind it. The half shafts were meant to function in the same fashion as control arms do with the vertical motion being dealt with by the lower ‘arms’ and the fore motion being handled by the trailing rods.
When coupled with improved shocks for the time period what was eventually found with the new independent rear suspension was the best handling Corvette to date and something for the engineering minds at GM to wrap their brains around and continue to develop. Because the handling improved so much with the new suspension the engineers at GM were able to do what they seem to do best with the Corvette and explore different ways to make the Vette more powerful.
Just the fact that the new suspension was lighter than the previous generation’s meant that the new Corvette would be able to move in a more nimble fashion and also be able to brake easier as it didn’t weigh so much. This was important as the four wheel disc braking system that the Corvette would eventually adopt as standard didn’t appear on the Corvette until the 1965 model year.
Today’s Corvettes have suspensions that are taken almost directly from the race track, but it all started as a work in progress and an evolutionary procedure beginning with the independent rear suspension. As the Vette’s of today handle like they are on rails, the Corvette Nation has the great minds of GM’s past such as Duntov to thank for the modern marvel of handing that is known today.