Car Lust C7 Corvette Roundtable
That Car Guy (Chuck)
Few events stir a car guy's interest more than a dented fender or a new Corvette. Yes, even the slightest vehicle abrasion will cause us to become instant body shop professionals. We immediately and uncontrollably chime in with statements such as, "Yeah, just put some Bondo on it." Then there's always, "The paint will never match, it's a metallic." You know... really important stuff like that.
And now our interest is directed to what is unquestionably the biggest automotive excitement in recent time... the official unveiling of a new Corvette. Which happens about as often as, say, a mountain gets moved. This is one of the few times in our lives that we'll actually see a new Corvette... not disguised spy photos or an "artist's conception," but actual pictures from Chevrolet, of all places! One glance is never enough, we have to study and memorize the details of the brand new sports car for the next few days to come.
But first, I'd like to say that I never liked the C6. The first time I saw it, I was overly underwhelmed. I was thinking, "Why did Chevrolet graft the nose from a Firebird onto a Corvette? Are they joking?" I had some solice thinking that this damage would be undone when the car received a mid-life face transplant, but that never really happened. And its passenger compartment was blasted by nearly everybody, unworthy to be in a car that cost over a hundred thousand dollars in some models. But it was still a performance supercar bargain.
The new Corvette looks to me like a Lamborghini Murcielago in the front and a new Camaro in the back. There are plenty of creases and folds everywhere on the body, some of them even have purpose, but the shape is unmistakenly Corvette. Vents and grilles galore adorn the car, and their functions are no less than brilliant. But square-ish taillights on a Corvette? Yuck!
The C7's interior totally embarasses the much-disliked digs of the C6 as well. Seats, door panels, dash... everything! The 7-speed manual shifter knob can't go unnoticed either. I think many automotive journalists will say that Chevy "Finally got it right this time."
The folks in Bowling Green have even installed their own aluminum frame fabrication facility for the C7, a first. That place has special Corvette memories for me... in 1992, I had the pleasure of seeing the One Millionth Corvette come off of the line there, and meeting dignitaries including Zora Arkus-Duntov, Dave McClellan, and Jim Perkins. Needless to say, that day will go down as one of my favorite automotive events.
So us armchair Corvette experts will agree and disagree on many things. But one thing is certain... you'll never see a dented fender on any Corvette. I think we'll all agree on that.
Chevy, now that's more like it!
Cookie the Dog's Owner
I'll confess to having had lifelong mixed feelings about the Corvette.
When I was growing up, the then-new C3 ("Mako Shark") Corvette was simply the coolest Hot Wheels car a boy could have. By the time I was getting a drivers' license of my own, the C3 had lost much of its appeal. The design didn't age all that well, the performance was a mere shadow of its former glory, but mostly it was a consequence of actually seeing them up close. Friends and acquaintances would roll up in their new 'Vettes, bragging about what a cool car it was--and while I nodded and pretended to agree with them, I couldn't get past the misaligned trim and the general aura of decline. It was a car coasting along on its reputation and on the reluctance of its fans to admit that it no longer even came close to living up to the hype.
When the C4 came out, it was something else entirely. The design kept the main styling cues of the C3, but the car looked cleaner and had a much lower drag coefficient. Under the fiberglass, the engineering was well executed--it was just about the only GM car from that era that wasn't under-engineered on introduction and dependent on early adopters for its beta testing. I didn't particularly want one (not that I could have afforded it in any case), but I had to respect it.
Through the C4 and C5 generations, the Corvette was the one car GM consistently got right, even as it was inflicting the Catera and Aztek and N-body Malibu on its remaining customers. The styling of the C6 always seemed a little off to me--a Corvette is supposed to have pop-up headlights, daggone it!--but it still had that basic rightness about it.
As for the new C7 Stingray, I think they completely dropped the ball. I don't like the current fashion of aggressive character lines and compound-curved body panels and gun-slot windows, and the C7 gives you all of that nonsense pasted on to a basic body shape that's closer to a 2002 Camaro than to anything in the Corvette family tree. And square tail lights? Really?
impression of the new C7 Corvette has been largely positive. I have yet
to see one in the wild, but have poured over various photos online and
in magazines. Personally, I love the body styling. While the general
shape does remind me a lot of Ferrari, the edges and lines on it fall
somewhere closer to Lamborghini in my mind. Overall a very beautiful
design. Sure, the back end looks like it was an after thought that they
tasked the Camaro or Cadillac people with finishing up, but even that
My other likes:
- I love that they have managed a 50/50 weight distribution. Not many consumer cars have much concern for achieving great balance, and certainly fewer yet that are domestically made.
- The renewed use of the Stingray name. The original Stingray Corvettes are my benchmark for two seat sports cars. I love all the original Stingrays, and am pleased they held off on using the name until they had a worthy car to use it upon.
- Improved seating. I'm a big guy by pretty much any measure, and having sat in a number of Corvettes over the years, the need for improvement here was glaringly obvious. Reports are that great measures have been taken to improve the seating.
- No more plastic interior. This should speak for itself.
- Laguna Blue and Velocity Yellow.
- Black rims. They look great with a few of the color options.
- A functioning hood extractor. I love this design point. Helps with down-force and cooling simultaneously.
- The Z51 option package. Ohh...there is so much to like here...
- As I mentioned, the back end could've had something more done with it. While I won't be as harsh as some others might be for this, it does seem to be a design afterthought.
- I really thought this was a good chance for Corvette to introduce a a potent turbo V-6. Yes, I realize for many a V-6 is nearing on heresy. But I'd even go as far as a wicked 4 cylinder if they could get enough juice out of it. While the V-8 is inherently sexy and has a sound that is fantastic, I believe there will come a time in the not too distant future where they will move away from the V-8, and was hoping it was going to be piloted sooner rather than later.
- Corvette's web site within Chevrolet.com. Go look at the Lambo or Ferrari site.
- The carbon fiber interior option. I really hate this. Carbon fiber is cool, and has some amazing applications in the automotive world, but I DON'T CARE if you have it surrounding your stereo face plate. Using it as interior trim is cheesy in my opinion.
- The in-dash navigation unit. I don't care how big you make the screen, putting it down by the shifter makes it hazardous. And truthfully, I hate built in units that aren't going to age well. Yes, it is more attractive to not have it sitting up on the dash, but what say you about a heads up display on the windshield or something? Let's think outside of the box and find a better solution, because a TV screen in the dash isn't it.
- Limerock green. I love this color, it's one of my favorites--but it doesn't belong on a Corvette.
I'll admit right up front that I'm not much of a "Corvette guy." I never
much cared for them when I was a teenager in the '70s, with a slight
exception for one featured in a certain street racing song;
my tastes ran more towards the big cruisers and some of the sports car imports, like the TR-7/8 and TR-6.
I mean, I was certainly impressed with the looks and the apparent panache of the C3 version, but I never really lusted after it: my affections had already been taken with the F-Bodies of that era. And later on I developed more of a fascination with pony cars than true sports cars.
In other ways, the Corvette has always been something of an oddity to me. It started out as a European-styled roadster, and I have absolutely come to lust after the C1 series, especially the '61-'62 models which I see as combining the best of the Euro-roadster with an American sensibility (read: aggressiveness). But after that. . . . .was it a sports car? A muscle car? A personal luxury car? A super car? Where did it belong?
I think that over the last few years, GM has tried to position it as something of a super car, with mixed success. No, it doesn't have the presence of a Lambo or a Ferrari -- and despite persistent rumors, the Corvette has (thankfully) retained the front-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration -- but even at its top end, it doesn't cost anywhere near what those Euro super cars run. OTOH, it probably gets 95% of the performance of those cars at a truly budget price, and probably is far more reliable (which doesn't matter that much to anyone ponying up $250k+, but at half that price the Corvette is in the range of those for whom maintenance costs would be a consideration). Does that 5% mean a whole lot? Maybe if you're running it on a track regularly, but for normal street driving?
One might think that I don't care for the new Corvette or perhaps even wish it ill; such is not the case. I *love* the idea of a good old American front-engined RWD bruiser that can at least play in the same ball park as the Euro super cars. I *hope* the new 'Vette is a good car. Let the Europeans build mid-engined track cars for rich playboys, we'll keep building reasonably affordable street monsters with at least a modicum of practicality, thankyouverymuch.
The Corvette Image is from from ABCNews.go.com.