2014 Man of the Year: Tadge Juechter

Joe Vaughn

Tadge Juechter didn't blink as the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray blitzed through a series of tight kinks on a California back road. One wild-eyed journalist after another was putting the coupe through its paces for the launch of the seventh-generation car, and Juechter was stuck in the right seat. No worries for the fifty-six-year-old engineer, for he had total trust in his machine. And make no mistake, the C7 is Juechter's machine. Only the fifth chief engineer in the Corvette's sixty-one-year history, he's likely to go down in the books as the one who got it right. For that he is Automobile Magazine's 2014 Man of the Year.

Corvette critics can be harsh, and those complaints are rarely unfounded. Some will contend that Chevy's engineers should not be applauded for simply fixing all the stuff that was wrong in previous versions. But Juechter's team did far more than finally bolt in decent seats: the C7 is a top-to-bottom reimagining of what the Corvette could and should be. The car is full of thoughtful engineering, from the seven-speed manual with rev matching that is engaged by using paddles to sensors that know when the tires are properly heated.

The Stingray is also a clear manifestation of what happens when a postbankruptcy General Motors gets out of its own way and allows an effective leader to oversee a dedicated team. "People probably think that everybody at GM rallies around the Corvette, but it's not like that," Juechter says. "The corporation is structured around mainstream vehicles, and the Corvette is idiosyncratic, which makes some people uncomfortable. Getting the right support is a constant negotiation." Juechter should know -- he's been with the company since 1977 and has worked almost exclusively with Corvettes for the last twenty years, starting under then-chief Dave Hill. "It helps having worked on the C5 and C6," he jokes, "because you know where a lot of the land mines are."

Born in Laredo, Texas, as part of an Air Force family who frequently moved, he earned degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering and an MBA at Stanford. Working for GM for two summers in college convinced him of one thing: he didn't want to work at GM. Today, he considers the term "GM lifer" a badge of honor.

Juechter certainly knew the importance of the C7's interior. "We put the interior designers on the track so they could understand what it's like to live in a 1-g environment, to have skin pushing on hard objects," he says. Distracting infotainment systems like Cadillac's Cue were also ixnayed.

Juechter is the most eloquent engineer we've ever met (and as an active runner, in the best shape, too), and he can be passionate about the Corvette in the way of a protective father. When former Automobile technical editor Don Sherman posited in our June 2010 issue that the C7 would have a "probable turbocharged V-6," Juechter took to a Corvette owners' gathering, angrily waving a copy of the magazine and saying, "Don't believe any of what you read -- most of it will be wrong."

The 2014 Stingray's accolades aside, his team's work is hardly over, as they're in the throes of creating more powerful iterations of the Corvette. However, we'll refrain from conjecture about the next Z06 -- or the Z07. We don't want to get yelled at again.

Tadge Juechter's masterpiece, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, is Automobile Magazine's 2014 Automobile of the Year. Click here to read the full story.

This article goes beyond the scope of well deserved. Corvette enthusiasts and collectors who know Tadge on a bit more personal level  know that he was the true driving force that kept Corvette afloat for many years prior to GM awarding him his well deserved title as Chief Engineer. It was his modest personality coupled with a lack of need for the recognition he deserved that kept that fact hidden from most in the Corvette community. While his predecessors were touring about dabbling in the celebrity of the position, Tadge was behind the scenes actually ENGINEERING a sport car!  Most are unaware of his true contribution to C5 and C6 that without, would have probably left those cars sitting on the drawing board!!! 
Tadge was/is the driving force that has kept the name Corvette where it belongs in automobile history for many many years. We still question today if GM realizes or appreciates the gem they have in a man who still looks at this celebrated position as a commitment and challenge instead of a celebrity. This man is the real deal, the engineer of the still one and only, true American sport car.  "Man" of the Year, "Person" of the Year , "Human",  "Homosaphian", "Earthling", WHATEVER... of the Year"; Corvette enthusiasts for C5, C6, C7 and hopefully Corvette generations to come owe Tadge Juechter all the "real" credit for keeping their hobby alive and the value of their cars as it should be.  
I can't believe it's 2013, and Automobile Magazine still has an award called "MAN of the Year." Way to empower women to be part of this industry. Antiquated. Might need to change this soon...
TI, it should be esthetically, not estetically in your comments.  Just a thought, for you and other readers who make comments like yours, it is possible to purchase an aftermarket add on with round tail lights for the new Corvette.  It would make all of us that also read the comments so much happier to be able to read these sections without having to read these old, negative comments about the new Corvette.  They get so tiresome and trivial in their minimal effect on the rest of us who usually display positive thoughts on a regular basis. 
Cl Reply
Congratulations Mr. Juechter.Although I think the use of Camaro styled rear light is hideous and just estetically awful, it doesn't diminish my respect for all that you and the team were able to accomplish.
Tom Champion
Varinder Singh
Kartick Patra
It is out of India but smater in the World
William Dos Santos
David Charles DuBois
Job well done Sir!
Sylvain Raymond
Stephen Habsbourg's protégé???
Deepak Malviya
Great job
@emilybaker64  Hmmm. Do you suppose it just might be because Mr. Juechter is in fact a man? 

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