Car and Driver’s C7 Corvette Update…

Car and Driver Magazine Stokes the C7 Fervor…

(Editor’s note: Before I get started, I want to point out that I personally have NO inside information or connections. What follows is educated speculation on my part.)

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The April 2011 issue of Car and Driver magazine arrived in my mailbox yesterday and my immediate response was “WOW!” The cover story is, “25 Cars Worth Waiting For!” and splashed in the front of the grouping of three red hot cars is, what is most likely a computer generated images of the 2013 Corvette. Just behind the Corvette image is the 2012 ZL1 Camaro with a tiny image of a 2012 911 Porsche. It’s a good-looking cover, with the Corvette in the lead.

The cover story starts on page 39 and as I was turning the pages I found myself saying, “Come on, come on, come on… where is it?!” FINALLY on page 52 there’s a back end photo of what is most likely a preproduction mule car. Although the cover shot showing the front of the car has the lower portion of the driver’s side front fender covered by the magazine’s address box, it’s pretty clear that the styling direction of the car closely follows the Transformer/Centennial show car. The greenhouse is rounded just like the show car and the blacked out A-pillar creates a neat effect.

I can almost hear the howling now because from the front view (as presented on the cover) the car doesn’t look too much unlike the C6. However, it’s the rear view that’s very distinctive. And for better or for worse, the split window it still there, although the article speculates that it will be an option. (interesting compromise)

The Transformers / Centennial concept cars is most obvious from the back.

The article copy has some bla-bla-bla over the issue of whether the configuration is worthy of the “C7” designation, that perhaps “C6-11/16ths” would be more accurate. This argument is based on the fact that this configuration used a front engine/rear transaxle layout. But since the mid-engine design has been off the table for some time now, what else was Car and Driver expecting?

While on the topic of aesthetics, there’s an interesting quote from GM’s latest CEO, Dan Akerson. GM’s fourth CEO since March ‘09 commented to design chief, Ed Welburn that he thought the C6’s butt was too wide and Welburn agreed. Yet the presented configuration still has the show car’s high, poofy rear fenders. The only thing inside of the high rear fenders are the tail lights and probably empty space.

Corvettes have been taking heat since the arrival of the C5 for their big posterior. The back end of this presentation could be slimmed down and cleaned up. The reduction of bulk would make this design very svelte. (Hey Welburn, put that car on a StairMaster and slim that tukus down!) And while I’m picking, I wish they’d do something with the side coves that isn’t so close to the C6.

If they take the bulk out of the above concept car’s rear fenders, they’ll have a MUCH slimmer-looking car.

Of course what the uninitiated don’t realize about Corvettes is that they’re not just pretty faces. Corvettes would have been ancient Detroit history were it not for what’s under the hood and how the power is transmitted to the ground. With the current projected release date of Fall 2012 as a 2013 model (perfect timing for the 60th anniversary – “60th Anniversary Edition? hint, hint) it’s a foregone conclusion that the structure, chassis, suspension, running gear, etc are all nailed down at this point. However, solid details should be considered guesstimations at this point.

To back up a little, one of the C6 Corvette books pointed out that by ‘99 to ‘00, Corvette engineering chief, Dave Hill and his team had done nearly everything they could do to the C5 platform they could think of, without a total redesign. This was one of the contributing factors that justified the development of the C6. It seems that platforms and layouts are improved to the point of, “it’s time for a redesign if we really want to move forward.” Having a factory racing team perpetually pushing the envelope, I’m sure that the point of no return for the C6 platform arrived somewhere around ‘07 or ‘08. Since Corvette development has always been evolutionary, rather that revolutionary, it makes sense that the C7 will have obvious linkage to the C6 – which isn’t a bad thing, really.

Aside from sensuous good looks, since ‘55 with the arrival of the 265 small-block, Corvettes have been about, “What’s under the hood?” According to the Car and Driver article, the C7 will be powered by GM’s new Gen V small-block V8. Of course, everything in the engine is aluminum and other exotic metals. The fuel-injection system will evolve into direct port F-I that will enable higher compression (that’ll be interesting, I can’t wait to hear what that sounds like) and cylinder shut-down technology. GM calls it “Active Fuel Management” and should yield improved fuel mileage. Current C6 Corvettes can get mileage figures in the low 30s on 55 MPH roads IF the driver is careful with his or her right foot! So we definitely like improved fuel efficiency.

That’s the “good news.” The “bad news” for fans of big displacement numbers is the CID reduction from the current 6.2 liters to 5.5 liters – which works out to 335-CID. Come on guys, make it a 327! Horsepower figures are undetermined so far.

And for those for whom base Corvette aren’t powerful enough, yes, there will be a Z06 and ZR1 version. But details for those sex pots are totally hush-hush!

However this all shakes out, the prelude will be very entertaining. Thanks to the internet and blogs, I’ve never seen so much buzz and anticipation for a new Corvette as I’m currently seeing. Computer graphics programs allow designers to create renderings that are difficulty to differentiate from photos of a real car. One tip off is if you see a blurred out background, it’s most likely a computer generated rendering.

The internet is the new “lay of the land” or better or worse. Let’s hope that the hyper speculation doesn’t set us up for a huge let down – ala Dean Kamen’s Segway from ten years ago that was supposed to “revolutionize personal transportation.”

So, that’s the latest. Stay tuned! – Scott

PS – Looking for MORE C7 RED MEAT??? Go to the top of the page and click on the “GENERATIONS” dropdown and choose “C7 Corvettes.” The page will load with my previous C7 Corvette posts. Enjoy, and we invite you to leave your comments in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the page.

Here’s the full April 2011 cover of Car and Driver Magazine…

Laser-Etched and parchment paper prints are available HERE.