Richard Hammond Brilliantly Explains M4’s CFRP Prop Shaft

Richard Hammond with a CFRP Shaft 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from Youtube
Two of BMW’s premieres that are set to show up at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show are using next-age carbon fibre prop shafts. I’m talking, of course, about the new M3 and M4.
When the Germans revealed everything about the new M cars, they used some fancy technical terms to describe what a CFRP drive shaft brings to the table. In short, the new shaft will be spinning faster, more durable and 40 percent lighter than a conventional steel one.

How much stronger, you might ask. Well, Richard Hammond, unknowingly, provided some sort of answer to this question, a long time ago, before BMW even mentioned ‘CFRP’ and ‘shaft’ in the same sentence.

In an early documentary he worked on for BBC, called Engineering Connections, the Top Gear presenter went to a Lotus F1 testing facility where they used to make carbon fibre drive shafts that would eventually end up being used in F1 cars. That’s where he found out just how much tougher such a shaft is, compared to traditional ones.

Putting the two to the test, the results are absolutely mind-boggling. The steel version tapped out at 1,376 Nm of torque, whilst the carbon fibre one went upwards of 4,500 Nm, a lot more than I expected. The video is absolutely captivating and well worth 5 minutes of your time. Enjoy!

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