On this day, January 6, 1953, design engineer Earl Steele McPherson received a US patent for a new type of automobile wheel suspension, which subsequently gained wide popularity and was named after its creator.
This suspension was independent, lever-spring. Previously existing designs of this type had two transverse swing arms – upper and lower. But McPherson proposed an innovative idea: to get by with only one, the lower one. And instead of the second one, he decided to use a high-mounted hinge connected to the lower arm using a rotary strut. The elastic element was a vertical coiled spring, inside of which a hydraulic shock absorber was located.
What is the advantage of a single-wishbone MacPherson suspension over a double-wishbone? Firstly, it is cheaper and more technologically advanced to produce. Secondly, it has a very small width. And thirdly, it has less mass.
True, it transmits vibration and noise to the body to a much greater extent. And besides, it creates inconvenience in maintenance, for example, when replacing or repairing a shock absorber. But nevertheless, it has become widespread.
Earl developed his suspension in the second half of the 40s, when he was an employee of General Motors. He worked there on a cheap Cadet car, but this car never went into production. And then the offended designer quit and in 1947 went to work for Ford.
MacPherson strut suspension was first used on the elegant 1948 Vedette, which was produced by the French subsidiary of Ford. The car had V8 engines with a displacement of 2.2 – 3.9 liters and a power of 60 – 100 hp. With.
The British “relatives” of the middle class – the 1950 Ford Zephyr and the 1951 Ford Consul – also received the same suspension. It is interesting that the British consider these cars to be the first large-scale cars with MacPherson suspension. And they explain it this way: the Vedette model was initially produced only in small quantities due to difficulties in mastering its production.
But be that as it may, the number of models with MacPherson suspension produced by different companies grew every year. Interestingly, the design subsequently underwent changes. The lower arm has become more powerful and triangular. On some models, the shock absorber was not installed inside the springs, but separately. And on the Porsche 911, not a spring was used as an elastic element, but a torsion bar, that is, a shaft that works to twist.
MacPherson suspension became widespread in the West in the 70s. But the Soviet automobile industry responded to the new product very late. For the first time, such a design appeared only on the VAZ-2108 in 1984, on the Moskvich-2141 in 1986, and two years later on the VAZ-1111 Oka.