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.
5. The BF Goodrich Greenwood Stars & Stripes Racer Goes On The Auction Block – In days of old, when big-block Vettes were bold, no one’s stars shown brighter that those of John and Burt Greenwood. For a time, John was like the Elvis of Corvette racing with his big sideburns, his car with all the right looks and moves, and the voice that bellowed out of those header side pipes. Yes, there were other important big-block Corvette race cars of the time, but the Greenwood’s BF Goodrich 427 ZL-1 Corvette was THE rock star. So when it was announced in June ‘11 that car No. 49 was going on the block at the RM Auctions Monterey event, the anticipation was VERY high. While the car didn’t go off for as much as was speculated, it was still an exciting thing to watch live, online. Even thought it was well after midnight here on the East Coast. Within minutes after the gavel went down and the polite auctioneer said, “SOLD!” I hit the “Publish” key and posted the results. You can catch the post HERE
6. The Return Of The Corvette Prototype Racer – It had been over 20 years since there was an official Corvette prototype racer. The last time we enjoyed anything like this was the Lola-built GTP car we first saw in ‘86. The new GTP Corvette is more svelte and it’s body has more styling points connected to the current C6 Grand Sport than the previous GTP car had to the C4. And, the new GTP car is technically a “split-window coupe.” Whoo-Hoo! Sting Ray fans! We dished up a little comparison between the old car and the new car you can check out HERE. For fans of the ‘80s GTP car, you’ll like www.CorvetteGTP.info. For fans of the NEW GTP Corvette, drool over this post from AutoWeek.com with LOTS of great photos. Yea, this car is a Corvette Hottie!
7. Corvette History Saved! The XP-819 Experimental Rear-Engine Corvette Gets The Full “Corvette Repair” Restoration Treatment – The American Space Program put a glow on the psyche of America. The “can do” attitude showed up not only at NASA, but in Detroit. Car makers tried all kinds of interesting things in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Arguably one of the most unusual Corvettes ever built was the XP-819. The car never had a name other that its project number and was largely out of the public’s eye until it surfaced in the early ‘90s after a few enthusiasts discovered a pile of parts under a tarp in an old paint booth at Smokey Yunick’s “Best Damn Garage In Town” shop. Yunick sold what he probably consider a pile of junk and the buyers put the car back together. The XP-819 got some media attention then faded away again, only to resurface again this year when it was announced that Kevin Mackay’s award-winning Corvette Repair shop was giving the car the full resto treatment! I’m sure the car still can do great wheelies! Catch the full story HERE.
8. Chevrolet Unleashes the 2012 Centennial Edition Option For All ‘12 Corvettes – Some have been carping that Chevrolet has “gone too far” with all of the Special Edition Corvettes. While some are more “special” than others, I really like all of these unique Corvettes. (Vote for your favorite HERE) Next in the line of 21 special edition Corvettes through the years is the sinister-looking 2012 Centennial Edition. The option is available on all model ‘12 Corvettes, so the numbers OF Centennial Corvettes will probably be pretty high. But with six different Corvette models, there will surely be some interesting combos! In the August 2011 issue of Motor trend there was a very cool pull-out poster ad highlighting the Centennial Edition on one side and on the other a cool poster of the Z06 and ZR1’s all-aluminum chassis. Real red meat for gear heads like us! For a heap’n help’n CLICK HERE. Early last August we covered the car and included two videos that you can check out HERE.
9. The Z07 Option For 2012 Z06 and ZR1 Corvettes – If you look at the lifeline of the C6 Corvette, with the C7 on schedule as a ‘14 model, we’re probably not going to see any additional horsepower for any of the remaining year Corvettes, So base model and Grand Sport buyers will have to get by on 436-horsepower from their LS3 with the Dual mode Exhaust option. Z06 buyers will have to get by on 505-horsepower and ZR1 drivers will have to endure the ride with just 638-horsepower. I know, times sure are tough! So for heavy hitters such as the Z06 and the ZR1, what’s a performance hound to do? Stickier tires and lighter wheels, and some hi-tech goodies, that’s what! The $9,495 Z07 option is available on the Z06 and the ZR1 and will get you around Laguna Seca quicker than anything from Detroit, Italy, Germany, or Japan. One thread on CorvetteForum.com had this to say… CLICK HERE. Your 10 Grand gets you super lightweight wheels, tires that are essentially slicks with some grooves on the inside (at a glance they look like bald tires!), the Traction Management option, Magnetic Selective Ride Control, and Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes. Yes, it’s near race car hardware, available at your friendly, local Chevrolet dealer. For more info, CLICK HERE. CorvetteBlogger.com did a nice post on the Z07 option HERE.
10. Grand Sport – The Best Selling 2011 Corvette Model – Every Fall there are two exciting things that happen in Corvetteland. The next year’s models come out and we get to see how many cars were sold. Well the good news for 2011 is that overall Corvette sales were up 11.5% with 13,596 produced cars. That up nicely from 2010’s numbers of 12,194. Although the ‘11 numbers aren’t great (slightly lower that ‘10’s sales of 13,934 units, and way off the high of 40,651 units in ‘07. (Yea, the “good old days.”) But at least the ‘11 numbers were up, instead of down. So what was the most popular ‘11 Corvette? Why the Grand Sport Coupe! It outsold the base coupe 5,212 to 3,112. And Grand Sport Convertibles stomped the base model convertible 2,782 to 780! So what’s up with those numbers? It’s about S-T-Y-L-E!!! Even though a maxed out Grand Sport can cost a little more than a basic Z06 and isn’t any quicker than a base Corvette, it just LOOKS COOL! It isn’t any more complicated than that. Consequently, Grand Sports accounted for 58.7% of all ‘11 Corvette sales. BRAVO Grand Sport! Our pal Keith Cornet at CorvetteBlogger.com delivered an excellent post with all the numbers to have fun reading over. Check it our HERE.
HAPPY NEW YEAR Corvette lovers. For 2012 we have two all-out, factory supported Corvette racing teams to enjoy, the upcoming announcement of the 2013 60th Anniversary Corvette, plus any other surprises Tadge Juechter, Harlan Charles, Kirk Bennion, and the rest of the Corvette team have in store for us! – Scott
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