Good for the Chevy Volt, ah, not so good for GM’s halo Corvette
When the Chevy Volt concept car came out at the North American International Auto Show in 2007 it was a genuine attention grabber. Even a died-in-wool Corvette fan like me said, “Hey, pretty cool!” Between the big diameter wheels, the chopped and channeled look, and the promise of 50-plus mpg, it looked like Detroit was serious about taking the lead away from the Toyota Prius.
But when the production Volt came out, enthusiasts said, “Ahh… Excuse us, but what happened?” Of course, fans of the Prius “larva school of styling” cheered, but were not electrified buy the Volt. And why would they? At over $40,000, the car cost $12,00 to $10,000 more than the Prius. It looks like a Malibu variant. The Malibu is a nice car, but it’s just a “nice” car. Even the Motor Trend Car of the year didn’t help the Volt. But by October 2011, the Volt was getting many buyers charged up with sales, as only 3,895 Volts had been shipped. GM had projected 10,000 Volts for ‘11.
So the big “WHOO-WHOO” news for Volt lovers (and GM) is that by the end of May ‘12, Chevy had sold 7,057 cars. I’m certain that the major reason for the bump in Volt sales was the price reduction to just under $32,000. But for some reason, the media has chosen to compare the Volt’s sales with the Corvette’s sales – and it doesn’t look good for the Corvette. What’a dopy comparison! First of all, greeny Volt fans most likely wouldn’t be caught dead in a Corvette, and visa-versa. While Corvette sales are up somewhat from ‘11, they’re still WAY off the ‘07’s total of 40,561 Corvettes. Sorry guys, but it’s apples and oranges here. Continue reading
Corvette paces the 2012 Indy 500 for the 11th time!
Every so often, a real bombshell goes off. Earlier this week, less than three weeks before the 2012 Indy 500 race, Chevrolet announced that a 2013 60th Anniversary ZR1 Corvette would pace the 96th Indy 500 race. This will the the 11th time a Corvette paces the Greatest Spectacle in Motorsports and the 23rd time a Chevrolet automobile has paced the Indy 500. No other manufacturer has paced Indy more times. And, if that’s not enough, 2012 marks the return of Chevrolet as an engine supplier for IZOD IndyCar Series.
C6 Corvettes have paced the Indy 500 in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, but this is the first time the 638-horsepower ZR1 will do the job. The ZR1 is also the most powerful car to ever pace the Indy 500. And just like most of the previous Corvette Indy pace cars, the Corvete needed no performance enhancements – just the addition of various safety requirements.
Arguably, the only bummer part of the story is for Corvette collectors. There was no announcement of an optional Pace Car Special. The livery on the ZR1 Pace Car consists of the production 60th Anniversary decoration, with the addition of the 2012 Indy 500 logo, “Official Pace Car”, Indy 500 logo, “CORVETTE” across the top of the windshield, and the safety strobe light bar on top of the B-pillar. The ZR1’s astonishing hardware aside, this is the tamest-looking Corvette Indy 500 pace car we’ve seen since 1986. But, we’re NOT complaining. Continue reading
The second time was the charm as the Corvette Daytona prototype STOMPS the competition in Hotlanta!
Congrats, Kudos, and Three Cheers to the Corvette Daytona prototype team’s first win! When the flag came down it was the electric blue Spirit of Daytona Corvette prototype to took the checkered flag at the Porsche 250 race at the Barber Motorsports Park, in Birmingham, Alabama. Richard Westbrook and Antonio Garcia drove the car 103 laps with a best time of 1:22.245.
The next race will be the Grand Am Rolex Series Grand Prix in Miami on April 27-29. For more info about the team’s first big win, CLICK HERE.
And for AutoWeek’s coverage of the race, CLICK HERE.
NOW Feast your eyes on this beauty!
Tom Benford’s Summer 1997 candid dinner interview with car design legend, Larry Shinoda.
Our celebration of the life and career of car design legend Larry Shinoda continues with this delightful interview that was originally published in the December 1997 issue of VETTE Magazine. Tom Benford and his wife Liz connected with Shinoda in August of ‘97 at the Corvettes At Carlisle Show, in Carlisle, Pa. This may well have been Larry’s last interview, as he died just 2-1/2 months later. Larry’s kidney disease had progressed to the point where he was on the list waiting for a donor kidney.
According to the Pasadena City College Celebrated Alumni Larry Shinoda page , “In poor health, Larry Shinoda remained active to the end. Larry passed away at his home in Michigan of heart failure on November 13, 1997, while working at his design desk with a phone in his hand. Larry had just passed the final tissue-match test for his kidney transplant the day before he died. Though Larry is gone, his legacy lives on.” Continue reading
CorvetteNews: 3-24-2012: Driver Reports From Gavin & Magnussen, 60th Anniversary TV Ad, & Bowling Green Readies For The C7
Breaking news and information for Corvette friends and fans around the globe!
* Driver Report: Corvette RacingTeam driver Oliver Gavin’s report on the team’s 2nd and 3rd place wins at the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race. CLICK HERE.
* Driver Report: Corvette Racing team driver,Jan Magnussen weighs in on the 2012 Sebring ALMS race. “We all expected the 12 Hours of Sebring to be one amazing battle, but even I didn’t think we’d end up with three cars from three different makes fighting it out on the final lap.” CLICK HERE.
David Kimble “Art Of The Cutaway Car 2011” Book Update
In February 2012 I posted a story about technical illustrator, David Kimble’s new book titled, “Art Of The Cutaway Car 2011.” Road & Track Magazine first published an ad for the book last Fall and indicated that Motorbooks International was to be the publisher. After running the post I heard from a friend at MBI that they did NOT publish the book after all and that they weren’t 100-percent certain, but CarTech Books might have had the honor. So, I checked in with my editor at CarTech Books, Scott Parkhurst (Scott edited my Illustrated Corvette Series book in ‘10) and YES, CarTech Books did indeed publish David Kimble’s new book!
But the story is a mix of good news – bad news. Obviously, the good news is that the 168-page, 10” x 12” full-color, $100 book, with 138 illustrations was published, so KUDOS to David Kimble and CarTech. Now the bad news. The book is SOLD OUT! Yes! All 1,000 copies have been scooped up and are no doubt thrilling 1,000-plus readers.
Since the first printing of the books are all sold, the mind wants to know, will more be printed and at what price? It’s a little disconcerting because if you go to Amazon.com, the book’s listing page says that Motorbooks International is the publisher and that no books are available. Also, there’s a mistake on the Amazon listing, as they indicate that the book is only 24-pages. Then if you go to CarTechBooks.com the title is not listed. And over at the world’s largest flea market, eBay.com, there are no listings. Parkhurst explained that since the book is sold out, they are not showing or advertising the book. Continue reading
Breaking news and information for Corvette friends and fans around the globe!
* Look’n Back! CERV III Video – Late ‘80s mid-engine experiemental advanced design Corvette – CLICK HERE.
* FINALLY! Corvette Inducted Into the Sebring Hall of Fame – CLICK HERE.
* Video Review of 2012 ZR1 Corvette by Cars.com’s Joe Bruzek - CLICK HERE.
The Civilized Grand Sport Corvette Replica – Sort of…
Today you can go to your local Chevrolet dealer today and buy a Grand Sport Corvette to your liking. Almost 50 years ago, there were only five Grand Sport Corvettes in existence and they were NOT for sale. “Unrealized potential,” “the ultimate could’a been Corvette” and many other expressions tell the original Grand Sport Corvette story. Unlike today’s C6 Grand Sports, the originals were all-out racing Corvettes, designed to give the Cobras a good run for it.
But GM had a completely different attitude about racing back then that can be nicely described as “backward.” Fortunately, all five original Grand Sports are still around. Along the way, there have been numerous companies that offered Grand Sport replicas – some, better than others. But today there is only one “officially licensed” by GM, Grand Sport replica, and that is the Duntov Motors Grand Sports.
Car and Driver Splashes the C7 Corvette – A PERFECT swan dive or a belly flop?
Cast your vote at the end of this post.
Don’t you just love a nice surprise in your mailbox? You know, a nice fat IRS tax refund, a Publishers Clearance Warehouse winner notification, or a letter from an old flame. (okay, maybe not that last one) The April 2012 issue of Car and Driver arrived in my mailbox today and I was greeted with what appears to be the real car that the November 2011 Jalopnik illustrations were based upon. It’s SO hard to tell computer rendered cars these days. “Usually” computer images are a little too flashy and that’s the telltale sign. A year, or less, from now, we’ll know for sure how spot on Jalopnik and Car and Driver are.
But for now, it’s deal with what’s in front of us. Sometimes, cars look better in person. But the C7 is looking more like a C6.75. I know that Corvettes tend to be evolutionary in their design, but honestly, there’d better be some stunning things going on under all the pretty fiberglass and carbon fiber.
The front view of the car is interesting, but two design elements bother me. The front grille opening looks awfully close to that of the 1993 – 2002 Camaro with its Billy Bass mouth. Going by the Jalopnik renderings, the hood vents and vents on the tops of the rear fenders indicate that this is the 2015 ZR1 configuration. But the vents on the hood look like those on the new ZL1 Camaro. Since when does the Corvette FOLLOW the Camaro? (when Camaros outsell Corvettes 6-to-1?) I suppose we’ll get used to it. But we’re not supposed to “get used to it,” we’re supposed to LUST for it!
And now to the back end. (sigh) PLEASE!!! Don’t let this be the real back end of the C7 Corvette, PLEASE. If so, we’ll never hear the end of the “Cormaro” of the “Camvette.” Continue reading
The Forgotten Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars
Even if you’re not “into” Indy Car racing, the Indy 500 is a uniquely American special event. Whom ever coined the expression, “The Greatest Spectacle in Motor Sports” got it spot on. In its own unique way, it is the American equivalent of Le Mans. The expression in road racing is this, “You can win at Daytona and America knows about it. But when you win at Le Mans, the whole world knows!” Even though the event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is just one race in a series of races and is early on in the season, it might as well be the Super Bowl of American auto racing. When the flag comes down and the winner is declared, every city newspaper,as well as every national and local TV station reports the winner. But if you win say, the Baltimore or Los Angeles Grand Prix, very few outside the arena of motorsports will know. No, there’s only ONE Indy 500.
While pace cars have been used at the Indy 500 since 1911, the tradition of giving the pace car to the winner of the Indy 500 goes back to 1936. Tommy Milton (winner of the 1921 and 1923 races) was invited to drive the official pace car, a Packard 120, and suggested giving the pace car to the race winner. A new tradition was born. As the speeds of the Indy race cars increased, so did the demands of the pace cars. Eventually, the pace cars were specially modified versions of the street machines with enhanced engines, suspensions, and brakes. By the ‘60s, manufacturers began to sometimes offer pace car replicas to their customers. Tracking actual pace cars is a little tricky because manufacturers usually build several pace cars for the actual race and for promotional use that all pretty much look the same.
Yes, Indy 500 pace cars have become a specialty nitch all by themselves. That’s why in 1978 when it was announced by Chevrolet Continue reading
The old Corvette vs 911 Porsche rivalery heats up!
Motor Trend magazine has a neat new TV program titled, “Head 2 Head.” To kick off the series MTs Editor at Large, Angus MacKenzie pits the 2012 Grand Sport Corvette against a 2012 911 Carrera S. The program is a lot of fun to watch. There are vintage clips of both cars from 1963 when the rivalry first started with the arrival of the 911 taking on the new Corvette Sting Ray. Footage of the Sting Ray is from a Chevrolet promotional film featuring race car drivers Dave MacDonald and Dr. Dick Thompson wringing out the new ‘63 Vette at the Chevrolet test track in the Summer of ‘62.
Comparisons of the two cars has always been somewhat of a force fit. In the olden days, the Corvette had the upper hand in power, but the Porsche was smaller and lighter – more expensive too. Fast forward 48 years and now the 911 is a smidge larger than the Corvette and is only 211-pounds lighter than the Corvette. Continue reading
Stockbridge police located Mr. Fitch. He’s okay! He’s okay!
A shock went through the Corvette community today when it was reported that race car driver, inventor, and Corvette legend, John Fitch was reported missing for a time, but was found, and was unharmed. Perhaps the most startling part of the report was that John is suffering from emphysema (an incurable condition) and mild dementia. If you have ever had a family member with dementia, you know what a rough ride that can be.
The Stockbridge police found John, which wasn’t too difficult, as he drives a black ‘05 Mercedes with yellow racing stripes on the sides. I’m sure they all know who John is and what he drives. John was taken to the local medical center and appeared to be in good condition. And his family was notified that he was found.
In Summer ’10 John was part of the festivities in Carlisle, Pennsylvania for a special presentation of the film, “The Quest.” The film is about Fitch’s involvement with the restoration of the 1960 Fuelie Corvette that he raced and won his class at the 1960 Le Mans race. In ‘10 after the car had been fully restored by Corvette Repair, the race car, along with the Miller family AND John went to Le Mans where John and Lance Miller took a lap in the car that Fitch raced full-out 50 years before. The moment and the car’s story is the subject of the film. Continue reading
A Look Back At the First of Bill Mitchell’s Beautiful Mako Shark Corvettes
Former GM Chief of Styling, Chuck Jordan said it best about his colleague and former boss, Bill Mitchell, “The man had STYLE!” And why wouldn’t he? Can you imagine learning car design from the great Harley Earl? Mitchell was 46 years old when he took over the reins of General Motors Chief of Styling in 1958 when Earl retired. Bill’s design leadership was so prodigious that it’s often overlooked that he spent his entire 42-year professional career with General Motors. That’s something that almost never happens today.
Mitchell’s styling sense can be best described as “edgy” – figuratively and literally. Known as a snappy dresser, Bill liked to “look sharp” and designed his cars with that ideal in mind. Mitchell believed that you could tell a successful man because his cloths were pressed and sharp, so he designed cars the same way! Unlike today’s “bar of soap,” smooth, rounded designs, a common threat in Mitchell’s designs were sharp edges and creases. Note the bold horizontal crease line and edges of the Stingray Racer and the ‘63 – ‘67 Sting Ray, the Mako Shark I, the Mako Shark-II, the Manta Ray, and the production ‘68 – ‘82 Corvette. Continue reading
You remember the first time you saw a Vette and said to yourself, “What’s that?!” Sure you do!
Let’s hear your “First Time” Corvette story. Use the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of this post.
There’s a first time for everything, right. Do you remember the first time you became aware of a Corvette? I’ll be you do, I certainly do. Although it was a very long time ago, I never forgot it. Here’s what happened.
It was the mid-’60s and like most boys, I was into building plastic models. There was something magical about seeing those kit boxes wrapped in plastic with artwork of the models, photos, and all kinds of interesting information, most of which I didn’t have a clue about. I built all kinds of models, as I wasn’t into anything specific, just the experience of building a model kit. I built ships, airplanes, boats, rockets, monsters, Rat Finks, and a few cars.
And opening the box was a real kick to. You break open the plastic, carefully take the lid off and inside was all this interesting stuff! Military models often had mostly silver-gray parts on trees, or sprues. Model cars were usually white and there was always one sprue tree that was bright chrome (vacmetalizing was just a total mystery to us kids), one was clear plastic, usually for the glass and headlights, and a clear red sprue for the taillights. Plus a decal sheet and an instruction sheet with wonderful exploded isometric technical illustrations that showed you how to build your model. It was all a delightful kid’s experience. But I wasn’t really into the car thing, just yet. Continue reading
A look back at a VERY BUSY year for the Corvette Community
The other day I was telling my wife, Karen, that the Corvette topic is virtually endless. With nearly 60 years of production, 21 special editions, race cars, tuner cars, experimentals, prototypes, events, auctions, car shows, history, plus the personalities associated with Corvettes, IT’S HUGE! An army of bloggers couldn’t cover it all, but I’ll do my best! As we ease into the last two days and the last weekend of 2011, I thought it would be fun to look back at what I think were the Top 10 Corvette Stories of 2011. So, in no particular order or importance, let’s take a cruise through the 2011 world of Corvettes.
1. Chevrolet’s 100th Birthday - The early days of the automobile industry were indeed wild. Companies were formed, bought out, merged, or went out of business – often very quickly! The truly wild part of the Chevrolet story has to do with the company’s namesake, Louis Chevrolet. It seemed that Louis and his partner Billy Durant didn’t see eye-to-eye and after a few short years, Louis cashed out and went on his merry way building race cars. But in what has to be the ultimate irony of the automotive world, after numerous businesses failed and the Great Depression caught up with Louis, the man “needed a job!” And where did he find employment? At Chevrolet, as an assembly line mechanic! For more of the story, CLICK HERE.
2. The 100 millionth Small-Block Chevy Engine - Last August GM announced that Chevrolet would be building its 100 millionth small-block Chevy engine later in the year and it would be installed into a ‘12 Corvette. Pretty damn cool, considering that the car’s survival was very iffy well into the ‘60s. Regardless, it’s great to see how Chevrolet has honored the small-block Chevy engine AND the Corvette by officially making what is currently the most powerful production engine ever built in Detroit, the ZR1’s 638-horsepower LS9 engine, the “100,000,000th Small-Block Chevy Engine.” BRAVO Chevrolet. Last November CorvetteBlogger.com did a very nice post covering this once-in-a-lifetime Corvette/Chevrolet event. To read the story, CLICK HERE.
3. Jalopnik’s MAJOR C7 Sneak Peek - Thanks to the internet and the blogosphere, there has NEVER before been this much anticipation for a new generation Corvette. When new scraps of C7 red meat hit the floor, us Corvette doggies go wild! Last November Jalopnik.com dropped a major slice on the Corvette community. At first they claimed they had photos. Then the next day they released three, very well done, computer-generated illustrations they claim are based on an unnamed insider that swears on a stack of Bibles piled up on his mother’s grave that this IS the new C7 Corvette! And not “just” the 2014 C7 Corvette, but the 2015 ZR1 Corvette. Of course, Chevrolet says Jalopnik got it all wrong, to which Jalopnik followed up with a post saying, “GM issues weak-ass denial of our 2014 Corvette exclusive.” Come on kids, PLAY NICE! You can catch out post HERE.
4. Another Le Mans Win For The Corvette Racing Team - It’s no secret that the Corvette Racing team didn’t have a spectacular year. Which goes to show us all that there’s no resting on your laurels. Just because the team won 100% of their races in 2004, 90% of their races in 2002 and 2005, and Le Mans six times before, doesn’t mean that a hundred things can’t go wrong out on a race track. Of the 10 races in the season, the team won two and came in 2nd place two times. Le Mans and Mosport were the team’s two first place victories and Long Beach and Mid-Ohio were the team’s second place wins. While a 20% win rate isn’t “spectacular” Le Mans IS the big prize. CorvetteBlogger.com did a very nice post on the Le Mans victory that you can read HERE. And you can keep up with the latest from the Corvette Racing Team at their official www.CorvetteRacing.com site. Continue reading