The New Millennium
The new century's bubble economy suffered a swift and sudden crash that took much of the domestic auto industry down with it. After a painful and previously unthinkable bankruptcy, General Motors -- and Chevrolet -- emerged leaner and stronger.
91. The Corvette Racing team
The Corvette Racing program has been a testament to Chevrolet's commitment to road racing since its debut in 1999. Since then, Pratt & Miller-built C5-Rs and C6.Rs have scored six class wins at Le Mans, seven at Sebring, and one remarkable overall victory at Daytona. Handled by drivers ranging from Dale Earnhardt (both Jr. and Sr.) to Formula 1 refugees Jan Magnussen and Olivier Beretta, the bright yellow Corvettes have beaten all comers -- Dodge Vipers, Saleens, Ferraris, Aston Martins, Porsches, BMWs, and Lam-borghinis. Up in Corvette heaven, Zora must be smiling.
92. Dave Hill
Only the third chief engineer in Corvette history (although his actual title was vehicle line executive for performance cars), David C. Hill was the guiding force behind the Corvette from the introduction of the C5, through the C5 Z06, and on to the C6 and its ultra-high-performance variants, which have placed the Corvette once again in the very top tier of sports cars.
93. 2001 CORVETTE Z06
With the Z06, the C5 Corvette had arrived "at the summit of mass-produced, world-class sports cars," this magazine wrote, naming it the Automobile of the Year for 2001. A Z06-specific, LS6 V-8 (aluminum block, 385 hp) certainly gave it world-class performance: 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds and a 171-mph top speed.
94. Bankruptcy & 95. Bailout
General Motors' June 1, 2009, bankruptcy was a watershed event in the history of the company. Although the federal loan agreement engendered ill will among a considerable subsection of the populace, the reorganization that came along with it, as directed by Obama administration "car czar" Steven Rattner, resulted in fewer nameplates and reduced fixed costs, leaving Chevrolet in a much stronger position than it was before.
96. Bob Lutz
Hiring former Chrysler, Ford, and BMW executive Bob Lutz to lead General Motors out of the morass of brand management might have been the best move former chairman Rick Wagoner ever made. Lutz revamped the corporation's product-development process and elevated the importance of design and interiors. We are seeing the fruits of those efforts today.
97. The Camaro Reborn
Almost as soon as Camaro production ended in 2002, there were calls to bring it back. A successful, retro-style 2005 redesign of the Ford Mustang surely added fuel to the fire, and in 2006, Chevrolet sprang a new-generation Camaro concept on an appreciative crowd at the Detroit auto show. As the Camaro moved from dream car to reality, it adopted the rear-wheel-drive Zeta platform. Although the dimensions changed, the production car stayed faithful to the show car's design, which harks back to the '69 Camaro. Finally reaching dealerships in early 2009, the Camaro (as an SS with a 6.2-liter V-8 or an LS/LT with a 304-hp V-6) was a shining light in a dark time. It now burns brighter with the addition of a convertible for 2011 and is poised for greater glory with the imminent arrival of the ZL1.
98. 2009 Corvette ZR1
"I wonder what this team could do for $100,000?" That question, from then-CEO Rick Wagoner, touched off the effort that resulted in the 2009 Corvette ZR1 (although the project initially went by the name Blue Devil, a nod to Duke University, Wagoner's alma mater). To surpass the $73,000, 505-hp Z06, already a performance benchmark, the ZR1 pulled out all the stops. Its LS9 V-8 achieved 638 hp and 604 lb-ft of torque in a car that weighed only 3324 pounds. The ZR1 broke new ground for the Vette in many ways: the supercharged engine, the carbon-ceramic brakes, the extensive use of carbon-fiber body panels (including hood, roof, and front fenders), the top speed in excess of 200 mph, and the six-figure price were all Corvette firsts.
99. THE CRUZE
The Chevy Cruze, introduced last year, represents a clean break from its predecessors, the Cobalt and the Cavalier, and finally puts Chevrolet in the top tier of small cars. And the market has reacted -- the Cruze was the best-selling car in the U.S. for the month of June.