Magnetorheological shock absorbers, like you’d find in performance GM cars, Ferraris, Audis, and even the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, have been a marvel of suspension control for years. Known better by their GM trade name, MagneRide, the system of dampers and controllers has been universally praised for enhancing the handling characteristics of already razor-sharp vehicles. The biggest problem with the system? The only way you really can get the setup is to buy the car it’s all attached to. Fine if you want a Corvette, hot Mustang or one of Maranello’s finest, but for the average everyday Joe…yeah, nope. It’s coils and leaf springs and MacPherson struts for you!
While MagnaRide uses a fluid and a system of electrical currents to work properly (and that is the seriously dumbed-down version of what goes on), magnets themselves aren’t hard to figure out: opposites attract. And vice-versa, matching polarities repel each other. Try it sometime: you’ll find that no matter what you do, matching polarity magnets will avoid each other like most humans nowadays avoid face-to-face conversation. In theory, then, if you find a large enough magnet (or compound enough of them) you will end up with a useable suspension, right? Well…let’s bring back our crazy Russian friend, Vlad, a test-subject Lada Samara, and magnets that look like they are meant for beating someone to death with. Surely, such a light little hatchback will do fine in this test. Right?