Want to know how much people like the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette? When we climbed into ours for the first time, we literally received a round of applause.
OK, it’s probably worth mentioning that we picked up the car from the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and that most of the clapping bystanders were excited elementary school students on a tour. Yet, people of all ages seem to react with childish delight when they see the new Stingray. A young woman in Louisville mouthed, “nice car,” and an old mailman in Michigan asked to take a cell phone picture. We’ve shown our own appreciation for the Chevrolet Corvette by naming it our 2014 Automobile of the Year. Now we get to spend four seasons with one.
We opted for a coupe equipped with the Z51 package, which includes stiffer dampers, a sophisticated electronic limited-slip differential, bigger brakes, and higher performance tires. Another $1995 brings slimmer Competition seats. Yup, we’ll be visiting the track. But we also plan to take plenty of long road trips, so we made sure those seats are heated and ventilated, with power adjustable lumbar. Adjustable magnetorheological dampers should likewise improve handling on the track while smoothing out the potholes around town.
Our white on red color combination—just like the original—flatters the Stingray’s robotic exterior and rich leather interior. Last but not least, Chevrolet charges $990 for museum delivery. That sounds like a lot to pay to schlep your own car home, but it also buys a tour of the factory and museum. Heck, you even get to see Zora Arkus-Duntov’s cremated remains on display (his wife is interred there, too, perhaps to remind spouses being dragged along that things could be worse). All told, our car lists for $68,060, some $15,000 more than the base Stingray but still an unseemly bargain by sports car standards.
Our first few weeks with the Chevrolet Corvette have been as awesome as those kids in the museum probably imagine it to be. Everyone loves the bark of the 460-hp V-8 and the satisfying snap of its seven-speed manual gearbox. But this test will be more than a yearlong victory parade. Beyond learning whether our friends in Bowling Green have put together a reliable car, we intend to determine whether the Chevrolet Corvette has, at last, evolved into the sort of personal luxury coupe one can comfortably and proudly drive every day. Hold your applause until the end, please.