First Look: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette

A. J. Mueller

Corvette Style
A family saga told across seven generations.

By Robert Cumberford

C1 The first Corvette is a dream car with a fiberglass body at the GM Motorama held in January 1953 at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. Styled by the Chevrolet design studio of Clare MacKichan, the C1 is conceptually (and even dimensionally) a copy of the Jaguar XK120. It features a 150-hp in-line-six engine and a two-speed automatic transmission, plus a wraparound windshield cribbed from the 1938 Hispano-Suiza Dubonnet Xenia. The revised 1955 C1 gets a Chevy V-8 as orchestrated by engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov. The face-lifted 1956 C1 gets a dramatic door cove cribbed from a Pininfarina-styled Ferrari. The 1957 C1 adds a fuel-injected V-8 and a four-speed manual gearbox, plus styling by Bob Cadaret (the best ever?). The 1958 C1 gets lots of chrome, done by me (under the direction of GM design chief Harley Earl). The 1961 C1 gets a higher tail by Larry Shinoda (under the direction of GM design chief Bill Mitchell).

C2 The 1963 Corvette Sting Ray is styled by GM's brightest young designers, most from California. The initial C2 design study reaches full-size 1:1 scale with a clay model in 1956 under the direction of GM design chief Harley Earl and is developed into a production version under subsequent GM design chief Bill Mitchell. Key features are a fuel-injected V-8, a shorter wheelbase, an independent rear suspension, and, soon, disc brakes. It's available as a coupe and a convertible. The coupe's signature is a split backlight from the 1952 Abarth. Harley Earl used a split window first on the Oldsmobile Golden Rocket for the 1956 GM Motorama, then asked me to adapt it to the Corvette for the initial C2 design study. (This car was first conceived with a transaxle derived from the Chevrolet Corvair and Pontiac Tempest, and I used to kid designer Tony Lapine that his 1978 Porsche 928 was based on C2 Corvette studies that were done in 1956.)

C3 The rebodied 1968 C3 Corvette combines a new Coke-bottle aerodynamic look from Bill Mitchell's Mako Shark II show car with the C2's chassis. The revised 1973 version has pretty much the same body, but the chrome bumpers are replaced by soft urethane bumpers then being introduced on many GM designs. Most of the changes in the third-generation car come beneath the fiberglass skin, and they are not always good. Small-block V-8s are stretched to 5.7 liters (350 cubic inches), and big-block V-8s reach 7.4 liters (454 cubic inches). The cars drive like nose-heavy monsters. Then emissions regulations reduce the powertrain choice to a 190-hp small-block V-8. Early in the 1970s, there is much talk about a rotary mid-engine design, but the costs of emissions technology end the plan. There is ongoing controversy over quality. By 1976 it's coupe only, with a hatchback finally introduced for 1982.

C4 The 1984 C4 is reinvented as a European-style sports car by engineer Dave McLellan and designer Jerry Palmer. The chassis retains the general layout of the C3, only with a complex new package that is wider in the cockpit and that carries the driveline, the exhaust, and other bits down the middle of the car. Big tires, a new five-link rear suspension, and an aluminum suspension are key chassis features, plus a modernized small-block V-8. The coupe comes first, then the convertible. An emphasis on chassis dynamics and racing leads to a hard-riding car, and while it makes good numbers on the test track, it's too stiff for the road until 1987 revisions are implemented. The ZR-1 is introduced for 1990 with Lotus-engineered DOHC cylinder heads.

C5 The 1997 C5's aerodynamic bodywork, developed in John Cafaro's Corvette design studio, resembles the mid-engine Corvette GTP racing car. Fiberglass body panels are replaced by flexible plastic moldings. Key components in engineer Dave Hill's chassis are a new, long-wheelbase, perimeter-style frame that is four times more rigid than the C4 structure; the new LS1 small-block V-8; and a rear-mounted transmission (not a transaxle). Greater chassis rigidity improves the ride, as does the availability of three different suspension calibrations. The coupe comes first, followed by the convertible in 1998 and a notchback hardtop coupe in 1999. The Corvette team builds plenty of special editions, and the 2001 Corvette Z06 is the most important of these, with more power and less weight. A racing effort at the 24 Hours of Le Mans begins in 2000 with the C5-R and continues to this day.

C6 The sixth-generation 2005 C6 Corvette is slimmed down slightly to suit European regulations. Designer Tom Peters, former head of the Corvette advanced studio, maintains the proportions of the C5 but combines them with the elaborately sculpted surfaces that have become popular at GM in the wake of the 1999 Cadillac Evoq concept car. Headlights are exposed for the first time since the C1. The mechanical elements of the package remain much the same, although a 6.2-liter LS3 engine is introduced in 2008. The car rides much more smoothly thanks to a longer wheelbase. The Corvette group continues to pursue performance credibility with the Z06 street car and the C6.R racing car. This effort also leads to the 2008 ZR1, a supercharged 638-hp car with carbon-fiber bodywork and carbon-ceramic brakes that goes on to set the lap record for mass-production sports cars at the Nuerburgring Nordschleife.

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88xray
I'm sorry, IMO, this is a styling abortion.Why?  It looks cartoonish and overdone, a pastiche.Too much going on, too many vents, grills, creases, etc., etc.  Overall effect:  it looks way too busy (compare it to the genuinely beautiful Ferrari 458 Italia -- simpler, cleaner and graceful).  And the rear end  =  really terrible.  A Camaro look on a car that costs $25,000+ more??   Very smart.  It even looks like a Camaro at the rear from the side.  And the too big quad tailpipes also look 'fanboy/rice rocket style 4" exhaust' and cartoonish.Must have been styled by a committee w/the head of design (Welburn?) either asleep, AWOL or on drugs.
Also, it's f....king longer, wider and heavier.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  It should be shorter, slightly narrower and lighter w/a downsized V8 still yielding supercar performance w/better fuel economy (and even nimbler handling due to decreased size, width and weight  --  "Earth to Chevy....Ever heard of Colin Chapman?"). The interior's ok, but also a little overdone.  Since the steering wheel is supposed to be an improvement, why does the center pad look like a glued on afterthought, rather than an integral part of the wheel??  The arch over the instruments flowing into the side handle on the center console has been done a few too many times elsewhere in recent years.I wanted to love this car.  Long been a fan since I owned a 1964 327 Sting Ray Coupe -- one of the best of the many sports cars I've owned over the years. This is a shame.
jbernard
You know, the c7 is one of those designs where once the luster wears off, its not that exciting. As a matter of fact, from c-pillar and rearward, its somewhat cheap looking, even ugly. It lacks a maturity that the previous car, in all its RV-tail-light glory managed to retain. The diffuser look needs to be toned down, the vents are functional but the slats in them should be abandoned, and the tail-lights...oh the tail-lights...they, in their execution appears cheapish and to omit what may arguably be one of the most heritable features of the brand is just plain foolish, regardless of intent (LED's are great, but not entirely necessary, and to that, it would've been possible to retain the LED's if desired). I'm sure it'll sell, but there is something very immature about this design.
rogerxcohn
well, most of the negative comments are about tail lights ( may have a point there) or the color scheme on ONE show vehicle. If you looked at the rest of the photos you would see body colored vents and interiors that were not red. As far as it being an overweight boulevard cruiser...0-60 under 4 seconds. Weight is only guessed at being heavier. if it is probably only a couple of pounds (less than those golf clubs you drive a round with all the time) if at all. I didn't see any complaints about the headlights that look like they were copied from a 458 Italia? I think its beautiful and can't wait to drive one. I can only imagine the performance from the Z06 and ZR1. The so called base car matches the old Z06 already. So, factoring that in may (base) be not too expensive after all.  All the vents are functional so I doubt they were just stuck on there. There is a lot of performance in a very low profile. The heat has to go somewhere.So, I think it is awesome and much more than I was expecting. But, I still wouldn't be surprised by a tail light change in the next model year.
jbernard
The rear end seems somewhat disjointed to me but, minor quibble aside, I really do feel bad for the SRT boys...
TT-Moto
There's no arguing GM made some much overdue improvemts and enhancements to the C7 Corvette, but I'm sorry none of that can excuse the fact that Juechter and his team used Camaro tail lights. Nor is the fact that the C7 is going to be heavier acceptable, IMHO. Juechter can spin the Camaro lights anyway he wants but there was a very legitimate reason to eliminate the pop up headlights, not so with the tail lights. As far as his suggestion that the round lights limited them in some way, I call that bs.Maybe Juechter and his team should take some notes from Ferrari, better yet you guys can seriously learn a thing or two from the Viper team. Not only did SRT deliver a Viper true to it's origins, but they improved it in almost ever aspect and reduced it's weight. Good luck with C7 sales, I won't be a buying another Corvette any time soon.
Streamliner
The vast majority of new Corvettes are purchased by "middle aged" men. Why then, did they design this new Vette to appeal to the Power Rangers crowd? Sorry, but this car looks like something a 16 year old kid would want. The car is over the top aggressive and way too "video game" for this middle aged guy. And that interior! Interiors, where no matter what color you order, half of it is black, are CHEAP LOOKING! If I order a red interior, I would like an ALL RED interior, like the beautiful Corvettes of the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's. I don't care how quick or how techno this new Vette is, for my money, I'd much rather have a new Porsche Boxster. Have you seen the new Porsche interiors? Drop dead GORGEOUS! I am very sorry to say this, but Corvettes are still for guys who think a platinum Visa card is a big deal, that chicks dig gold chains and that Sizzler is a great steak house.
browniebear2153
agree? disagree?
browniebear2153
Sales on all remaining C6's should soar
browniebear2153
The side view looks like a Mazda from the 1980's, great tail-lights from the Chevy Malibu and the added price of plus $10,000 over the C6 (which was really a C5 1/2) must be created by the finance geeks. It was long rumored that Chevrolet was going to discontinue the Corvette, well the account finance geeks may finally have found a way; price the vehicle totally out of reach of the "average" buyer.Mazda sales should  go up 500%. 
The Corvette is becomming a boulevard cruiser - the final replacement for the Lincoln Mark VII.
TheClassicCarFactory
Regardless of what we were all expecting this car to be, it is a quantum improvement over the C6 in every way - especially design - except for the tail which seems a tad "busy"; I don't mind they took libberties with the tail lights - what I mind is that the design they settled on looks like they just raided the Camaro parts bin.....i bet these will be the first change on the next update......probably back to round :)
JK Mcneely
Great looks. Fantastic technology. Just don't know why they gave it Camaro tail lights and a Nissan GT-R roofline. Why change from the classic Vette round/oval tail lights? From behind, it is not easily recognizable as a Corvette.
Uncle Stabby
I agree with the comments about the functional venting being available in body color. Other than that, think the car is a beautiful, respectful, but not slavishly retro interpretation of its forebearers. The most important non-kinetic part of the car is the interior which always reeked of Rubbermaid, no matter how much low-rent leather they slathered all over it. I hope that the Corvette will approach Volkswagen/Audi levels of material refinement at long last. And in the SIWOTI department, in your photo gallery, the '68 C3 is actually a '71 and the '84 C4 is at least a '92. I know, I know, it's the generation you're showing, not the year, but it's annoying to your many devoted car pedant readers.
jwoj
Exciting car! An update worthy of the new name - if it drives as promised. Even if they only updated the interior, this would have been a success :-) Looks like the new Viper is going to get spanked - by a base Vette! Looking forward to the convertible, as well. It's becoming harder to look unique, and you can see a few other cars in this new Vette's design, but it comes together well, overall, and in a way that doesn't betray its heritage.Four head-scratchers, though. 1. I hope you can get body-colored vents, rather than only the black because it looks a bit too busy, 2. the taillights should have been more rounded, at least paying homage to cars from the Stingray on. I heard they thought they were too prosaic: wrong., 3.) gimmick alert! The paddles to turn on and off the rev-matching feature for the manual (a very cool 7 speeds) are massive overkill. You either turn that feature on or off. Unless there's an explanation coming, it's out of whack for a car that is otherwise nicely maturing. And, 4. the side vent behind the front wheelhousing looks like it was an afterthought. Seems like someone said, "Dammit, we forgot that vent! It has to be there! Okay, where can we fit this thing in?" It could have been much better integrated.Smallish things for a nice leap forward! Can't wait to see a test.
rogerxcohn
@Streamliner Chicks don't dig gold chains? Really? Most women think any credit card or guy with a job is a big deal

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