Metals Used In Sports Cars And For What Reason

All cars are composed of a variety of different metals which fulfil their various functions within the car. Copper is used in wiring, zinc provides protection from corrosion, iron is often used for engine blocks, and steel and aluminium primarily make up the chassis and body of the car. With sports cars, the focus with regard to construction material is primarily on weight reduction. Rather than increasing engine output or tuning the suspension, reducing the weight of a car is a simple way to improve the all-around performance of any sports car. Lightweight cars accelerate faster, stop faster, get better gas mileage, and are generally more agile. As a result, car makers over the past few years have shifted away from the more tradition steel and iron in favour of the lighter aluminium, titanium sheet and carbon fibre as a way to maximize performance and efficiency.

Steel and Aluminium

For many years, car manufacturers constructed cars primarily out of steel, which provided an attractive blend of qualities: it was very cheap, much stronger than iron, very malleable, and easily welded. Steel provided a practical and affordable material for mass-produced vehicles. Despite these benefits, steel’s weight made it an unattractive choice for sports car manufacturers seeking ultra low-weight construction.

In the 1990’s, Acura produced the NSX, which featured the first entirely aluminium body in a production car. Aluminium’s strength was able to match that of steel construction, and reduced the overall weight of the car dramatically. In recent years, Audi has switched many of its cars to using an aluminium chassis. In addition, many manufacturers are also switching to aluminium engine blocks rather than the traditional iron blocks. Although less durable than iron, aluminium greatly reduces the weight of one of the heaviest parts of the car.

Carbon Fibre

Although not a metal, carbon fibre is the newest material used in place of metals in high performance sports cars. Carbon fibre is highly expensive, which currently limits its use almost exclusively to super cars. However, the high cost is redeemed by its ultra low-weight and rigidity. Carbon fibre is primarily used in body panels because it provides a good balance of strength and weight: it is much lighter than steel, and much stronger than plastic. The most prominent example of carbon fibre usage is the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, which features a carbon fibre body, chassis, drive shaft, and suspension. Carbon fibre is quickly becoming the performance car building material of the future, because it yields a power to weight ratio that surpasses that of a cars built with any metal.

Increasing technology and manufacturing capability has lent sports car manufacturers greater flexibility to reconsider the traditional materials used in car construction. While for many years steel and iron were the only feasible materials for use in sports cars, recent advances in aluminium and carbon fibre have fundamentally changed the way car companies approach creating cars. The complete replacement of metal by carbon fibre in sports cars may not be feasible for many more years, but improvements in manufacturing have shifted the challenge from how to use as little steel and iron as possible to which variety of building materials ought to be employed for the maximum output.