Production

Go under the microscope with Bentley's metrology team

A team at Bentley measures every component of the company's vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

In a factory in Crewe, Cheshire, England, sits a large air-conditioned workshop hidden away from visitors. Inside sits an array of precision instruments that would be right at home in a university science lab or space agency. This is the Bentley metrology lab.

Metrology is the science of measurement. Its name isn't fancy, but its precise work is of the utmost importance. Bentley employee Michael Stockdale, Head of Metrology, runs the lab working with 25 colleagues to measure Bentley vehicles ensuring the most precise measurements possible.

Bentley metrology lab 2020 A team of scientists work together to ensure precise measuring takes place and that any variation in production are within acceptable tolerances.Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

In the U.S., such labs are frequently found as a part of a government institution. The Kansas Metrology Laboratory falls under the jurisdiction of the Kansas Department of Agriculture. The same goes for facilities in Texas and Nevada while South Dakota's falls under the Department of Public Safety. There are also private metrology labs that service clients worldwide.

Bentley's lab is specialized. It is capable of measuring every part of each model Bentley produces - even the concept cars, from the smallest washer to large body panels and interior trim components. "We have the tools to measure everything from the graining of leather to the surface of a cylinder bore, down to fractions of a micron" said Stockdale.

Why? To ensure that the vehicles are not out of alignment with the allowable tolerances. When components are measured individually, it is easy to see where an error may be occurring during production. This allows problems to be pinpointed during assembly and can result in a more precise vehicle arriving at dealerships and less recalls down the road.

There are instruments within Bentley's metrology department that can measure down to 0.5 microns. A micron is one millionth of a meter, and a human red blood cell is 5 microns in diameter. Not every component of a Bentley needs to be measured to tolerances of less than a micron, but there are some.

Flying B Spur mascot hood ornament The Flying B mascot is made of several intricate components.Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

Take, for example, the Bentley Flying B mascot that rides on the hood of the Flying Spur. It smoothly moves up into the environment and then retracts into a safe space below the bonnet. That simple up-down maneuver requires the proper working mechanics of a series of intricate parts that come together in very close quarters. To achieve this precise choreography and to ensure that it sits perfectly centered within its plinth, elements of the Flying B system have tolerances as low as 0.15 millimeters. If one component is just a little bit off, it can disable the entire operation.

The engine has some of the most complex and microscopic components. The company describes their 6.0-litre W12 engine, "Spinning at up to 6,000 rpm, the crankshaft converts the immense downward forces generated by the pistons into rotary movement that powers the wheels. Though invisible to the naked eye, each of the twelve machined bearing journal surfaces in which the crankshaft sits features minute grooves that hold a microscopic film of oil."

By using a Perthometer (a tool designed to measure surface finishes), the Stockdale-led metrology team can verify that those minute grooves are within their defined tolerances.

The lab also contains a fleet of digital cameras that are able to photograph a vehicle at every angle to create a precise map for duplication. This map then serves as a template as the vehicle is carved out of a single piece of aluminum.

"Imagine an issue at the prototype stage where the panel gap between grille and bonnet is a millimetre too large," said Stockdale. "Does the fault lie with the grille, or the bonnet? The cubing reference vehicle provides the answer, because it's made to the precise dimensions of the CAD data."

Leitz Bentley metrology This machine can be equipped with tactile probes for scanning accuracy and a variety of optical sensors for non-contact measurements.This machinery retails for over $100,000.Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

Soft surfaces, such as interior upholstery, are read by an optical laser.

Bentley keeps its lab at a comfortable 68 degrees at all times allowing for accuracy in all measurements and preventing shrinkage and expansion due to environmental conditions. Certain tools, however, require an even higher level of precision.

The metrology lab features a High Accuracy Measurement area, which Bentley refers to as its "inner sanctum". There, a dedicated climate control system ensures that the temperature never deviates by more than half a degree Celsius. Within this area are three gigantic granite blocks to which components can be clamped for the ultimate in stability, essential for an accurate reading. But first, the components to be measured have to soak in the atmosphere – literally. "A large component like an engine block might have to soak at a consistent temperature for up to a week, so we can be sure that it's 20°C all the way to the core" said Stockdale.

BRAKE DISC CONTRENCITY Bentley A disc brake is measured inside the metrology lab.Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

Bentley calls the metrology department its "hidden heroes" saying, "Every Bentley that leaves the factory is a tribute to their unseen contribution."

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BMW is adding new racing experiences to the roster at is Performance Center West.

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW Performance Center Driving Schools have added to their curriculum offerings with the BMW M and M4 GT4 Experience, the M4 GT4 Private Coaching with Data and Video Session, and the Race Licensing School. All courses are offered at their driving school in Thermal, California.

BMW M and M4 GT4 Experience

M4 GT4 Experiences and Race Licensing School

Photo courtesy of BMW

This full day program carries a $2,795 price tag and includes driving various BMW M cars and the M4 GT4 race car. Attendees start their day with a classroom session that reviews proper driving technique then they receive an overview of the car and are outfitted with a racing suit and helmet. Next, they head to the Thermal Club track and get in some guided laps behind a BMW instructor, experiencing speeds up to 140 mph I the M4 GT4 race car.

The M4 GT4 model driven is the exact same as the race car driven in series around the world. It's powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that produces more than 430 horsepower while the rear wing, front splitter, and Continental racing tires make this car stick to the track through the corners.

Each session includes:

  • VBOX data and video system in the M4 GT4 to record the session.
  • Access to professional instructors, trackside crew and support.
  • All driving gear for the duration of the class – racing suit, helmet, gloves and shoes.
  • Lunch at the BMW Performance Center café.
  • Insurance, with a $2,500 deductible for vehicle or property damage

BMW M4 GT4 Private Coaching with Data & Video (Half Day)

M4 GT4 Experiences and Race Licensing School

Photo courtesy of BMW

This half-day, $4,995 program includes 125 miles of track driving in the M4 GT4 race car. Students start with a classroom session that reviews proper driving technique before being outfitted for their M4 GT4 driving session. The class includes:

  • VBOX data and video system in the M4 GT4 to record the session.
  • Time in the BMW M4 GT4 race car, one professional instructor and trackside support.
  • All driving gear for the duration of the class – racing suit, helmet, gloves and shoes.
  • Lunch at the BMW Performance Center café.
  • Insurance, with a $2,500 deductible for vehicle or property damage.
  • More miles can be purchased on the day of training. The program is designed for one driver. However, two drivers sharing a car can be arranged upon request.
  • The schedule is flexible. Please call 888-345-2269, and one of the BMW Performance Center driving instructors will reply to answer any questions and schedule the coaching session. Discounts are not allowed for this program

BMW M4 GT4 Private Coaching with Data & Video (Full Day)

M4 GT4 Experiences and Race Licensing School

Photo courtesy of BMW

For $9,995, students get a full-day private program that includes 250 miles of track driving in the M4 GT4 race car. The days starts with a classroom session that reviews proper driving technique before being fitted out for their M4 GT4. The class includes:

  • VBOX data and video system in the M4 GT4 to record the session.
  • Time in the BMW M4 GT4 race car, one professional instructor and trackside support.
  • All driving gear for the duration of the class – racing suit, helmet, gloves and shoes.
  • Lunch at our BMW Performance Center café.
  • Insurance, with a $2,500 deductible for vehicle or property damage.
  • More miles can be purchased on the day of training. The program is designed for one driver. However, two drivers sharing a car can be arranged upon request.

Race License School: The Path to Professional

M4 GT4 Experiences and Race Licensing School

Photo courtesy of BMW

After you've been through BMW's Advanced M School or the Two-Day M School, BMW Performance offers a SCCA-certified school to take your skills to the next level on your way to becoming a pro driver. Students can add the one-day school to an Advanced M School or Two-Day M School session and get qualified all at once.What will be learned:

  • Learn the colors. Green. Yellow. Red - No there aren't any traffic lights on the track. But there are flags, and you'll learn what each represents while you're out there to maintain safety.
  • Passing. Don't let off. - Start off with you in a BMW, behind your instructor in theirs. They will coach you through the art of passing under both braking and acceleration. Then, we'll bring on a classmate and coach you both as you battle for first place.
  • Keep Rollin'. Practice race starts - In racing, how you start can impact how you finish, and we'll show you how to get started right in a grid set up, as well as rolling starts. Learn how to navigate with other cars on track while setting up for that first turn.

Additional information be found at https://bmwperformancecenter.com. Courses can be booked online or by calling 1-888-345-4BMW.

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The 488 GT Modificata is the newest addition to the Ferrari lineup.

Photo courtesy of Ferrari

The new, limited edition Ferrari 488 GT Modificata takes its technology from the 288 GT3 and 488 GTE, the pushes to achieve its full athletic potential. That potential is exclusively for use during track days and at Ferrari Club Competizioni GT events.

The Ferrari 488 GT Modificata takes its name from the Ferrari jargon meaning better performance. It takes its prowess from the genes of the 488 GT3 and the 488 GTE. It also has new technologies, mainly linked to the powertrain, that are no longer limited by the FIA Balance of Performance.

Ferrari 488 GT Modificata

Photo courtesy of Ferrari

The 488 GTE competes in the World Endurance Championship. Ferrari calls the 488 GT3 the "queen of GT racing". The 488 GT3 has delivered 350 wins and 630 podiums at national and international races as well as the FIA World Endurance Championship Drivers', Teams' and Manufacturers' titles. The 488 GTE has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Petit Le Mans. Ferrari tuned the new model at the Nordschleife.

It's powered by a twin-turbo V8 that delivers 690 horsepower. Ferrari says that it does all that by utilizing new high-performance mapping that doesn't compromise the car's predicted reliability. The car's gearbox is available with different transmission ratios. The clutch is made of carbon fiber.

Ferrari has given the car unique high-downforce aerodynamics that shift the position of the car forward. This positioning generates higher downforce without increasing drag, allowing the model to be more efficient than its racing counterparts. The car has downforce of over 2,204 pounds at 142 mph.

The car's body is made almost entirely of carbon fiber. It has an aluminum roof and uprights.

Ferrari has given the 488 GT Modificata the 488 GTW's suspension. The braking system was developed in partnership with Brembo and features low residual torque calipers that are fitted to world championship cars. Its antilock brake system comes from the 488 GT3 Evo 2020, with specific settings.

Each model comes standard with a V-Boz acquisition system, which combines with Bosch's telemetry data acquisition system and allows data to be downloaded directly onto a USB stick.

A high-resolution rearview camera is also standard.

Customers will be able to nearly fully customize their 488 GT Modificata. It will initially only be for drivers who, in recent years, have participated in Competizioni GT with Ferrari or Club Competizioni GT.

The 488 GT Modificata will be admitted to Club Competizioni GT events. In 2021, customers will have the chance to participate in five events at tracks including Virginia International Raceway, Monza, Watkins Glen, Suzuka, Nurburgring, and Finali Mondiali.

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