January 17, 1953 is a day the automotive world will never forget. On that date, Chevrolet unveiled a car to compete with the like of British sports cars such as the Jaguar XK120, the Corvette. The fiberglass-bodied car came only in Polo white, was powered by a 235ci inline-6 known as the “Blue Flame Six” which produced 150hp which was put down by a “Powerglide” 2-spd automatic. A total of 300 were built and were sold at $3490. My have the times changed.
Sixty years later, Chevrolet rolled out the seventh generation of the Corvette and revived the Stingray name. The body is still made of fiberglass with the exception of the roof and hood which are now carbon fiber. Why? To lower the center of gravity of course! The Blue Flame Six has evolved through generations of V8s and newest is a 6.2L direct-inject V8 producing an estimated 450hp, up from 430hp in the C6. A new 7-spd manual transmission will be offered, only the second car to offer one. A 6-spd flappy-paddle version will also be available.
The interior has been greatly improved as well. The driver is now surrounded by a wraparound dash which beautifully splits the interior in two by the use of contrasting leather colors.. The driver’s portion includes a new infotainment center and a new digital gauge cluster (the first digital cluster since the C4), and carbon-a-plenty! The most important improvement inside however, is the seats. After years of ridicule, Chevrolet has finally listened to the critics and have added seats which appear to actually meant for holding your butt in place when cornering.
So what about it looks? The Daily Derbi staff has mixed opinions on the car. Mathew Davis put it this way, “As far as the exterior design I love the carbon fiber with the black wheels. The front and sides are beautiful and the back is pretty slick looking too but I’m not 100% sold on it yet. There is a little too much Camaro in the taillights and there is something cheap about the large black sections on the lower bumper.” On the contrast, Jason Bennion says, “I like the side view — I see hints of the classic ’70s Vettes in the front fender bulges, and the overall profile is unquestionably Corvette — but I’m not crazy about the front-on view. The headlights are a little too ‘euro’ for my taste, and the grill looks odd to me for some reason; possibly it’s just the black-on-red color scheme of the display model. The interior’s nice. From an engineering standpoint, the lightweight construction and fuel-efficiency measures are intriguing. Hate the black-on-black wheels… whatever happened to white walls and chrome, anyhow?” As for myself, I think it is the best looking car to come out of Bowling Green. It is the first Corvette I have absolutely loved since the 1967 Stingrays. However, while it looks purely Corvette at a glance, when I look closer I see the marriage of a few cars. The roof line, especially the C-pillars, look like they stole it from a Nissan GT-R, the arse looks to reminiscent of the current Camaro, and the front reminds me of the new Viper. Is any of that a bad thing? I’ll let you be the judge.
This leaves us wondering about GM’s motorsports plans for the car. We have heard unconfirmed rumors that they plan to enter it into ALMS mid-season this year. What is unclear is if they are racing or testing. Only time will tell… In the meantime, it is available for download in Gran Turismo 5.