The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Proves There’s Hope Yet
Crisply downshifting into a classic Michigan left turn, I noticed a carload of kids across the median gesticulating wildly in the direction of the killer white-on-black Corvette Stingray I was piloting along 8 Mile. It was just past dusk, but that wasn't stopping them from trying like hell to get a cellphone pic of our 2014 Automobile of the Year. As the flash went off, I noticed they had the window up, so best guess is they got a blown-out shot of the inside of their car. Better luck next time.
It was the same everywhere I went around metro Detroit in the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. At the airport, the gas station, the grocery store lot, my old neighborhood—I was quizzed, showered with blasts of "Nice car!," and bombarded by cellphone-wielding paparazzi. I swear I looked out back once and saw a trail of halo dust (or was that tire smoke?) billowing behind. Wonder if that's a factory option?
During my 15 years or so driving press cars, there have been a few I've driven that have elicited something similar to this sort of reaction. The first new-generation Mini comes to mind, the return of the third-gen Challenger, the new Jaguar F-Type—but nothing even close to the barrage of attention I received over the Corvette. All this, mind you, for a car that has been out for months now. Part of it no doubt has to do with this car's wicked package, with black rims and other black accents dynamically contrasting with the tidy whitey livery. And naturally part of it has to be the fact that I was running around Motown, where the Corvette is automotive royalty.
One reaction in particular hit home, and it came from a kid who couldn't have been more than 8. As I slowly rumbled by, he suddenly exhibited that wide-eyed, slack-jawed look you get when you stare at something astonishing. "Cool Corvette," was all he said. It wasn't so much what he said, as much as he said it at all.
We hear so much these days about the End of Days for cars as we know them. That today's kids would rather be playing video games (hopefully driving games at least) and texting on their smartphones than dreaming about supercars and driver's licenses. That they're more interested in the hybrid tech and connectivity options the car has than, you know, actually driving it. Then there's Google, our soon-to-be benevolent overlords. As executive editor Todd Lassa wrote last month, Google recently unveiled its rolling pod of the future, no steering wheel or gas pedal required! Yikes.
We all know that many drivers young and old don't give a rip about cars, that if given the choice they'd happily hop into any four-wheeled appliance from Google or otherwise if it meant never going to the dealer, or never having to get it fixed, or never having to look up from their tablet on the way to work.
That's why it was so heartening to see and hear young kids treat the mighty Chevrolet Corvette Stingray with such reverence. In the end, though, this isn't really about the Corvette. It's about the place that cars—performance cars especially—will have in the future. It's about the battle for the automotive souls of today's youth. Will they become Google pod adopters, or hammer-droppers when the light turns green?
If you're reading this magazine, I'm assuming you're the hammer-dropping, canyon-carving, concours-cruising type. You're spreading the gospel that cars are meant to be driven and treated with respect. That you're sharing your passion with your family and friends. As we lurch into an uncertain future where autonomously driven wondercars will increasingly become part of the automotive landscape, it's more important than ever to show tomorrow's drivers why cars like the Corvette matter, and what makes them special. The best explanations, it turns out, often come in stunning black and white, with a monster V-8 roaring, tires furiously spinning…