2002 Mb F400 - Mercedes-Benz Forum

 
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2002 Mb F400

The F 400 Carving follows in the tracks of other vehicle studies such as the F 200 Imagination and F 300 Life-Jet, which showcased new steering and chassis concepts in 1996 and 1997 respectively: "drive-by-wire" and "active roll control" were just two of the concepts central to these automotive research projects.

The research engineers and scientists at DaimlerChrysler have perfected these ideas in the F 400 Carving and are proud to unveil an entirely new system which further enhances active safety and dynamic handling and gives an even more exhilarating driving experience.

Beneath the engine hood of the F 400 Carving is a state-of-the-art 3.2-liter V6 powerplant, a tried-and-tested unit installed in several other Mercedes model series. This six-cylinder engine differs from the standard production version in just one respect: the research engineers have equipped it with a dry sump lubrication system which ensures a constant supply of oil to the powerplant, even when lateral acceleration is extremely high.

The sequential gearbox in the research car is also a standard Mercedes-Benz production model. Only the SEQUENTRONIC controls are different: in the F 400 Carving, the driver changes gear in racing-car style – with selector buttons on the steering wheel.

Xenon light from fiber optics

Equally new is the headlamp system of the F 400 Carving. For the first time, DaimlerChrysler is using state-of-the-art fiber-optic technology to transmit the light produced by the xenon lamps. These optical-fiber bundles, made up of thousands of individual glass-fiber strands, enable physical separation of the light source and the headlamps - an advantage that primarily benefits the sports car’s front-end design, since the headlamps only take up a very small amount of space. This therefore allows an extremely flat and low-slung front.

The light for main and dipped beam is generated in two cylindrical casings beneath the engine hood. Each contains a xenon lamp, and the light given off by these lamps is concentrated by elliptic reflectors. The reflector focal points reflect the light into the fiber-optic lines which, in turn, ensure loss-free transmission of the light to the headlamps. Special lens systems in the headlamps diffuse the light to illuminate the road. In addition, the F 400 Carving has two side-mounted lights for cornering. These fixed-position halogen lamps come on when a certain steering angle is reached. They can also be activated by a button, for use as fog lamps.

A space-saving design is also the hallmark of the indicators: powerful LEDs generate the light which is then dispersed by means of prism lenses.

Vehicle body: lightweight carbon fiber

The open-top two-seater’s body is made from carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). Already tried and tested in the world of Formula One motor racing, its chief properties are minimum weight and maximum strength. It weighs in at about 60 percent less than steel, making the body of the research car 100 kilograms lighter. The DaimlerChrysler engineers use an intelligent three-material mix for the F 400 Carving chassis: steel, aluminum and carbon fiber (CFRP). Exterior: the language of dynamics

Whichever way one looks at it, from whatever angle, the speedster’s body is like that of a perfectly proportioned and superbly conditioned athlete. The profile is structured by wing-like sections that powerfully span the wheels, harmoniously drawing them into the overall body concept, yet without restricting their freedom of movement. Smaller wing sections fore and aft of the wheels reinforce this effect, making the wheels the dominant focus of attention when the car is viewed from the side.

The design team also adeptly used the distinctive wing sections to give the F 400 Carving a characteristic face, making the headlamps an integral part of the wings and using the light covers to form two "eyes", decisively enhancing the sports car’s enticing allure. This stylistic detail is possible thanks to lighting systems incorporating state-of-the-art fiber-optic technology, since conventional headlamps are simply too large to be incorporated in the limited space available in the wing sections.

And, of course, the two-seater’s face would not be complete without the three-pointed star, centrally positioned in time-honored Mercedes sports car tradition. It forms the focal point of a further important design feature that stretches centrally across the engine hood, evoking images of the unmistakable arrow-shaped nose of the McLaren-Mercedes team’s Silver Arrows. This particular detail is well on the way to becoming a classic Mercedes-Benz sports feature, having already graced the Vision SLR and Vision SLA sports car studies.

Arguably the most striking feature of all, because they are so steeped in tradition, the gullwing doors have come to symbolize the Mercedes-Benz brand. It is now exactly 50 years since the first Mercedes-Benz Gullwing created a sensation, marking the beginning of the SL legend. The F 400 designers took this feature and reinterpreted it in the spirit of contemporary design and technology, proving that the idea is just as stylish and exhilarating now as it was all those years ago. The research car’s gullwing doors are not attached to the roof as they were on the original 300 SL. Instead, they swing upward 60 degrees thanks to special joints, supported by gas springs.

The muscular contour of the door leads into a sweeping, powerfully shaped profile which forms a prominent line stretching back as far as the speedster’s tail end, where it acts as a fender for the rear wheels. The tail part of this section houses the rear lights, in the same way as its counterpart at the front incorporates the headlamps. The slender prism lenses enable the indicators, tail lights and brake lamps to effortlessly blend in with the overall design concept and, furthermore, cast an extremely impressive light on things.

Interior:

high-tech in stylish packaging
A look inside the cockpit reveals another major design theme of the F 400 Carving: technology in its purest form. Technology that focuses on the essentials, on what motoring was originally all about and, therefore, on everything absolutely central to this idea. Nothing more, nothing less.
Admittedly, this initially smacks of purism, a totally stripped-down driving machine.

But a closer look quickly reveals all: the perfect finish, the very best materials and a passion for detail. The designers at the Mercedes studios – in Como, northern Italy and Sindelfingen, southern Germany – devoted themselves to the task in hand, giving the interior a characteristic appearance that draws on classic aspects of bodystyling and design. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the "wing" theme, the instrument panel being a perfect case in point: there is no firm visual link between the panel and the center tunnel. It seems to be "floating" in space like some majestic wing and thus appears extremely light and almost delicate.

The idea of technology in its purest form is most clearly exemplified by the transmission tunnel, which has the shape, color and texture of a cast-aluminum transmission bell. As such it echoes the racing car cockpits of the twenties and thirties, an era when drivers had to make do with bare metal and little else. The simple sliding controls for the blower and the heater, the metallic lever for the SEQUENTRONIC transmission and the oval ventilation outlet above the transmission tunnel all reinforce these images of bygone days, yet behind each of these classic styling features lies state-of-the-art technology.

Passengers in the F 400 Carving are awaited by carbon seats in which they immediately feel at one with this evocative car and its technology: man and machine in absolutely perfect harmony. The seats provide superlative lateral support and can be individually adjusted, despite their one-piece design. The multi-layered fiber texture means it is possible to vary the backrest inclination without the need for joints or hinges - a small lever mechanism is all that is required. Together with spring and damper systems beneath the seat, the multi-piece upholstery ensures effective vibrational damping for good seating comfort.

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Year: 2002
0-60 time: 6.7 sec.
Torque @ RPM: 232@3000-4800
Top Speed: 149 mph
Horse Power @ RPM: 221@5600

Eddie
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