vwlover77 wrote:Were they shooting for understeer at the limit?
Indeed. It is considered the safer alternative to having the rear end pass you by. Take any corner or evasive maneuver as an example and visualize it in s-l-o-w---m-o-t-i-o-n. The first turn of the steering wheel and your vehicle's inertia will resist you right off the bat. This is initial understeer. As the vehicle responds to your input, energy stores up in the suspension as it loads on the outside. The inertia is naturally carried rearward in the vehicle's chassis at the apex point of the curve where you then unwind the steering wheel to exit the curve. It is the apex-to-exit that oversteer rears its head. With a front stabilizer bar, the energy is released by front outside wheel slippage. But what about trailing throttle oversteer? Indeed, any late braking or middle-of-the-curve braking you would expect a transfer of momentum to the front to give you some extra understeer tendency, right? Well. Wrong. Now that your rear-engined car is committed to the corner, the rear outside tire is all at work trying to keep the engine/driveline mass going around the corner. Any additional request, like braking, will overwhelm the rear wheel and you will lose traction. Independent trailing arm rear suspensions like our VWs and BMWs and Mercedes and Porsches all have a nasty tendency to let it out at the rear if you even think of braking or slowing mid-corner (right, BobD?) Mild maintenance/acceleration will help keep the rear suspension planted, and if you have swing axles like the early VWs and Corvairs and Mercedes, definitely err on the side of acceleration. . . after the apex.
Now, about that energy stored in the suspension. In an evasive maneuver, the natural rebound of the outside suspension will "throw" the car back to the other side after your initial change in direction is absorbed. You so want the rear
suspension of the VW to acquiesce to this rebound. You would also like the front suspension reject
it. A rear stabilizer bar will merely toss the load directly to inside rear wheel which will shortly become the outside as you overcorrect and send the car into the weeds. If your rear suspension is allowed to MOVE and the car tilts dizzily, the better your chances of the front end getting loose and helping you regain directional stability.
But no. We have subjective sensations that perturb us, "my car leans too much, I am afraid it is going to tip over
," or after monster stabilizer bars are installed "hey now, this baby steers through corners like it is on rails man, it really
." but the actuality lurks under the blather, ready to screw you when you have a true need for emergency/evasive handling. Changing the suspension componentry/balance because you "like the way it feels now" is not what matters when the shit hits the fan.
The rules of handling/performance driving as it relates to these cars:
Never Slam On The Brakes! Squeeze them even in an emergency.
Reduce braking as your car enters a corner, be off of them all together at the apex. Accelerate gently at the apex and progressively out of the corner (unless you really overcooked it where neutral throttle and a prayer is best, unless you have swing axles where you really need to keep the rear end down)
In an evasive maneuver, it is not the initial swerve that even matters. I mean yes, it is good that you missed the dog or child or car, but the real problem is the subsequent correction. It may seem unlikely to remember or execute but please try to allow your car to stay on its new course, don't try too terribly hard to get back into your lane or even back onto the road to keep it all tidy. Just try to allow the new course, even if you have to mow down a few roadside reflectors. The surprise that bites you in the ass is the amount of energy stored up in the suspension as it bounds back
from your initial swerve.
Just because there is a marketing industry that wants you to festoon your car with gee-whiz gadgetry doesn't mean you have to fall for it. Think about your actual circumstances. There are people who have lowered, changed the spring rates, added roll-stiffness, and gotten away with a much better handling car when it was all over. Like Jake mentions with his engine configurations, "it is in the combination." We cannot just grab a piece of the transformation and add it ala carte to our cars. It is much more complicated and inter-related than that.
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . .111,130 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,787 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 93,996 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . 55,510 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 72,113 miles