posted on January 29, 2013 00:00
Sneak Peek: C7 Stingray Corvette (An Insider's Perspective)
Text by Merritt Johnson - Captions by Khiem Dinh
Chevrolet's iconic American sports car last experienced a redesign for the 2005 model year. The sixth generation Corvette design was not a radical departure from its preceding generation. It played to the key elements familiar to the nameplate, but without evoking the sort of passion key to appealing to a new generation of automotive enthusiasts. In the nine year span since the January 2004 unveiling of the C6 Corvette we have seen new competitors step up to the plate. Nissan brought the GT-R to North America at an affordable supercar price point and, more recently, Dodge reengineered the Viper. Through the long drought Chevrolet managed to keep the Corvette relevant with special performance editions, but eventually the bag of tricks ran dry. On January 13, 2013 the seventh generation Chevrolet Corvette finally stepped out of the shadows to a hotly anticipated reveal. Now that all the photos and specifications are flooding the media we are ready to get our own insider's perspective.
Very few outside of those immediately involved in the C7 Corvette's development have had much exposure to the vehicle at this point. General Motors used all efforts to keep its details safely guarded. The pre-production build floor for the Corvette contained double security clearance. Only those with specific program affiliation could get near the new hardware without the need for camouflage. The development vehicles were prepared in their sequestered space, once ready, the roll up doors in the dividing wall were raised and the camouflaged Corvettes were paraded through the build room floor containing other GM models. Whenever the doors went up everyone without special access would strain their necks in attempt to get a slight peak at the new company halo.
Thankfully the chiropractor visits can now end as the details are available for public consumption. All the rumors and leaks can be dissected as true or false. It is certainly safe to say that the new design touches upon the emotions of those who take it in. There are many treats to be discovered in the new design elements of the C7 Corvette. Some have quipped that the aesthetics are over styled, but each feature was a calculated decision included for performance enhancement or as homage to the brand's heritage. The largest point of contention is perhaps the shift away from rounded and oval taillight lenses to a more trapezoidal shape. The desire is for the new Corvette to establish its own signature, not to be confused in dim light with even its own past generations. It maintains a familiar silhouette and proportions to hold true to the Corvette name.
Other distinct elements of the C7 exterior have every bit to do with aerodynamics. Modern consumers (and regulators) have become laser focused on efficiency. Large efficiency gains can be achieved through aerodynamic elements and sports cars are of course the most receptive to such efforts. The Corvette includes tricks such as composite flat underbody paneling and active front shutters to direct all airflow over the car or through the bumper to the front brake ducts and radiator.