Although it wasn't official until Chevrolet made the announcement this morning, we had plenty of evidence that a new version of the Corvette was in the works. To whet your appetite for the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette's official debut in January at the Detroit auto show, here's a look at what we know about the new car.
The End Of The C6
Chevrolet gave a clear sign that the 2013 model year marked the end of the C6-generation Corvette by offering a variety of special models (pictured below). The Corvette 427 convertible is essentially a topless version of the Z06 coupe, with a 505-hp 7.0-liter V-8 engine under the hood. All other models of the 2013 Corvette can be equipped with a 60th Anniversary Package that includes Arctic White paint, Blue Diamond leather upholstery, gray-painted brake calipers, and an abundance of special 60th Anniversary badges.
In August, Chevrolet announced that it was suspending public tours at the Corvette factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Nearly 50,000 people tour the plant annually, but Chevrolet closed Bowling Green while it retools the assembly lines to handle the next-generation C7 Corvette.
The C7 Corvette
Plentiful spy photos have given us a good idea of what the new Corvette will look like. The design is evolutionary, rather than a big leap forward. The two-door car continues with a long, low nose; steeply raked windshield and small cockpit; and wide, sloping rear windshield that leads into wide and tall rear haunches. The front grille appears to have a wide, egg crate design that mimics other new Chevrolet products. As on the C6 Corvette, the headlights are fixed rather than the flip-away style used on old models. The biggest change concerns the taillights. Whereas the current Corvette has four distinct circular taillights, the new car appears to switch to four rectangular lights. While that's a big change from Corvettes of old, it puts the new car in line with other Chevrolets like the Camaro and Malibu.
We first spotted the 2014 Corvette in January, when cold-weather testing took the sports car to northern Michigan. Three months later, we snagged a video of the car testing on public roads. In September we once again spotted the car, this time testing at General Motors' proving grounds in Milford, Michigan, with what appeared to be a removal targa roof. More recently, our spy photographers caught a group of 2014 Corvettes prototypes and managed to spot much improved interior materials. A smart, leather-covered bucket seat and a smaller steering wheel give us hope that Chevrolet has finally fixed our biggest complaint with the current Corvette -- a low-rent interior that doesn't match the car's price tag or performance.
Older rumors suggested the new Corvette would use a twin-turbocharged V-6 engine and a "split window" design inspired by the 1963 model, but neither of those appear to be in the cards for now. And the long-hood proportions definitively put to rest the decades-old rumor that Chevrolet would build a mid-engine Corvette.
The primary engine choice for the new Corvette will be the latest version of General Motors' famous small-block V-8. In November 2011, GM announced that it was developing the so-called Gen V iteration of its V-8 engine. The new mill will displace 5.5 liters and is said to feature technology like direct fuel injection and variable valve timing -- although it will probably keep its pushrod valvetrain and 4.4-inch bore spacing. GM had revealed in earlier 2010 that it would spend $890 million to upgrade engine plants in order to build the new engine. As of now, GM says it has spent over $1 million preparing its factories for the new small-block V-8, creating or retaining 1700 jobs in the process.
Even though we won't see the entire car until January 2013, expect more details and teaser photos of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette to emerge over the coming months. The new car should go on sale by next fall.