New spy shots show that the upcoming mid-engine Corvette features some peculiar braking hardware on the rear wheels, making us wonder about their function.
Dual Caliper Brakes
One theory surrounding the second set of rear brake calipers on the mid-engine Corvette is that the second caliper will enable higher-performance braking.
The benefits of having two sets of calipers are fairly straight forward, and boil down to three primary advantages:
- Double the pistons means greater strength to clamp down on the rotors.
- Double the brake pads means twice the contact area of the pads with the rotors (known by engineers as the total swept surface area).
- Twice the calipers and brakes means that the hardware has to work half as hard when stopping the car, thereby allowing them to cool off twice as fast and eliminating brake fade during instances of continuous hard braking, such as racing on a track or handling course.
No matter how you spin it, the end result is superior stopping power – and good brakes on a supercar, such as the mid-engine Corvette is shaping up to be, are just as important (if not more important) as the car’s acceleration, suspension and other commonly-measured attributes.
In the case of the mid-engine Corvette, the weight distribution will likely change significantly when compared to prior Corvette iterations, placing more of the car’s weight toward the rear wheels. We imagine that this change, in turn, increases the importance of having greater stopping power for the rear tires when compared to the fronts.
But a dual-caliper design is not all marks in the positive column: with more calipers and pads comes greater weight and mass – the sworn enemies of performance. So it will be interesting to see how Corvette engineers mitigate this potential downside… if the second set of rear calipers will, in fact, end up being for stopping duty.
Parking Brake Theory
Another theory surrounding the dual rear caliper setup on the mid-engine Corvette is that the second set of rear calipers will be responsible for the the electric parking brake for the upcoming sports car.
Typically, electric parking brakes lock a vehicle’s axle into place in some fashion, either by clamping the axle or inserting a pin that prevents it from moving. In the case of the mid-engine Corvette, a significant portion of the car’s mid-ship will be taken up by the powertrain. Though electric parking brake hardware is rather compact, a possibility does exist that the engine and transmission placement would limit the space available for a parking brake to lock the axle into place. So the circumstance may have led engineers to move the electric parking brake to the rear rotors via a dedicated set of calipers.
With that said, the second set of calipers on the rear wheels seem way too big to be for the parking brake. So a scenario in which the second set of calipers is used for additional stopping power while doing double-duty as parking brake clamps might be more likely.
Industry-Wide Uses Of Dual Caliper Brake Designs
The dual caliper rear brake design is not common today, even among super cars, hyper cars or other high-performance exotics. However, double calipers are used on some high-performance motorcycles as well as on rear-engine dragsters – where they are prized for their ability to resist brake fade, especially after continuous runs.
But perhaps the most prominent use of the dual rear caliper design in the automotive world is the Porsche 956 – a 1980s-era prototype-style race car built for the the FIA World Sportscar Championship. In 1983, the 956 famously completed the 20.832 km (12.93 mi) circuit of the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife in 6:11.13 while qualifying for the 1000 km Sports Car race at the hands of Stefan Bellof. The performance set an all-time record, which the car and Bellof (post-humorously) still hold to this day.
Coincidentally, Porsche also used the 956 to test its world-famous Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) dual-clutch transmission before putting it into production in 2009.
So, what do you make of the dual calipers on mid-engine Corvette prototype? Talk to us in the comments.
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