Straight Talk From Art -
"Technology In Motion" is a slogan that we have used for many years now and it's a great description of what we do. For decades, we have been always innovating, improving our products and providing our customers with the best suspensions available. Part of staying on the cutting edge of suspension technology we always listen to what our customers are looking for. The last few years, the dominant request has been for an IRS system. Anything ranging from the antiquated C4 system to a modern double A-arm setup like what the new Corvette's have.
|Art (l) and Craig Morrison (r) have long demonstrated the ability to provide customers with products they desire.|
While we have wanted to incorporate an independent rear suspension into our rear clip and chassis designs, we never could find a design that would significantly increase handling performance, yet package well at the same time. The increase in comfort would definitely be there as the rear tires could act independently of each other, but we were looking for more than just that. While the possibility of a double a-arm IRS design was discussed, the packaging of a suspension like that left a lot to be desired and we remained patient that we would find an IRS style that would fit our needs.
Then 3 years ago, Craig Morrison and our Lead Engineer Matt Jones were in Southern California to participate in Super Chevy Magazine's Suspension Challenge. Interested in participating in some "extracurricular" events, Craig and Matt took our '55 Chevrolet to a number of different shows. One of these events was a run along the coast with a group of supercars. Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other exotics, along with our "GT55" enjoyed some of the great roads and scenery of Orange County, California.
It was on this run that we finally had the proper seed planted for an IRS design. The final stop on this run was at a very well respected Porsche-tuning shop, BBI Autosport. Amongst the spectacular cars on display, there was a Porsche GT3 Cup car on one of the lifts, and with its belly pans removed the rear suspension was in full view. As Matt was examining the suspension, both he and Craig began to discuss the possibilities of this Porsche suspension being able to work for a hot rod and muscle car application. The track width was right, the size of the tires would work and more importantly, it was in a very compact space, perfect for being able to put it under the floor of many of the cars that we deal with.
Returning from their successful trip to Southern California, Matt began to explore the possibilities of using this suspension. Working with Betim and Joey at BBI, Matt had them send up the various suspension components so he could model the parts and begin working towards a suspension design. Unfortunately, the Porsche components were so singularly designed for a rear-engine, rear wheel drive Matt soon found that they weren't a viable option. The idea of a multi-link IRS, in theory, was still a possibility, the only thing was to find the right OE components.
|The crew at Art Morrison Enterprises proudly pose with the 1,000th Tri-5 GT Sport chassis to come off the production line. Mnay of the employees have been with the firm for 25-plus years and helped establish AME's reputation for building products of exceptional quality and providing outstanding service.|
During this development time, the 5th Generation Camaro came onto the scene and through SEMA's Technology Transfer program, Matt was able to evaluate the multi-link design that GM had created for this vehicle. The vehicle layout was right (front engine, rear wheel drive), the track width was correct and just as important, the size of the suspension was what we were looking for. The key part of the 5th Gen Camaro suspension was the upright and hub assembly, everything else Matt would design.
|Matt Jones' familar 1969 Camaro was fitted with the prototype AME Multilink IRS and taken to Super Chevy magazine's "Suspension Challenge" held at Willow Springs Raceway in California. The car easily out-handled even the new Camaro SS and earned glowing accolades from all who drove it.|
The final piece of the puzzle came last year at SEMA when Craig and I were talking to our long time partners at Strange Engineering. Thanks to the massive amounts of power that the LS platforms were capable of, Strange was debuting a cast-aluminum Dana 60 differential that was a direct replacement for the OE unit. Not only was this part going to be absolutely bomb-proof, the Dana gear set would be very quiet. After inspecting the piece up close, this was definitely going to be our go-to piece for our all new multi-link design.
Throughout the last quarter of 2012 and the first part of 2013, the design was finalized and the prototype installed into Matt's '69 Camaro for testing and evaluation. Sway bar rates were tweaked and the JRI shock valving was perfected as the car was driven thousands of miles on roads of various quality. Even in the early stages of testing, we knew we were onto something that was special. It was as comfortable to drive as a new car, but it also significantly added to the performance, helping the car drive around corners harder than ever before.
With everything finalized, it was time to head back down to sunny Southern California to participate once again in Super Chevy Magazine's Suspension Challenge. While we were pretty sure that it would perform well, we weren't prepared for just how well it actually would do out on the road course. With testing this time out at the world famous Willow Springs race course, Matt's Camaro was subjected to skidpad, slalom and road course tests. All of the test drivers were amazed at the comfort and performance of our IRS design, but the road course was where it really shined. With its ability to help drive the car around the corners, test driver Mary Pozzi was able to apply the power earlier and keep the power on later than any car she has driven before.
Three years in the making and with the performance and road testing complete, the Art Morrison Enterprises Multilink IRS is now ready for sale. The IRS will be available for just about everything we make, whether it is one of our GT Sport bolt-on chassis, custom builder's chassis or a rear subframe. Available in 4 different track widths, there's an application for just about every car out there. While there are many aftermarket IRS options available these days, the Multilink IRS is the first multi-link design and also the first IRS design that actually improves the cornering
performance of the vehicle. We have dedicated two pages of this year's catalog to the Multilink IRS and all of its many tech features. If you would like to have this installed on your specific frame please speak with our sales and tech department when they are working on a quote for your project.
2014 is going to be an exciting year, the Multilink IRS, new chassis designs in the works and a dedication to our slogan of "Technology in Motion" that is as strong as ever. As always, we owe you a debt of gratitude and a heartfelt "thank you." If it wasn't for your support and suggestions we wouldn't be where we are today, nor would we be building the things we do. Your business is valued and our staff welcomes your comments as to how we can provide you with better parts and service. We look forward to being part of your next project. Thank you!