If Chevrolet offered brand new C1, C2, and C3 Retro Corvettes, would you buy one?
Take our Poll at the bottom of this post.
The other day I posted a story featuring a collection of make-believe Chevy billboards titled, “Billboards We’d Like to See”. (check it out HERE) Without really thinking deeply about it, my subtitle was, “If Chevrolet was to make retro Corvettes, would billboards such as these help sell cars?” The subtitled popped into my head because as I was looking at the mocked up Corvette billboards, I was struck by just how beautiful the C1, C2, and C3 cars were.
Now this would never, ever, ever happen – but it’s fun to imagine. The basic idea would be this. Start with two Corvettes from each of the first three generations. Let’s say a ‘57 and a ‘62 for the C1 group, a ‘63 and a ‘67 for the C2 Sting Ray group, and a ‘69 and a ‘78 for the C3 group. The idea would be to take the original designs and update the drivetrains, wheels, tires, and brakes, safety requirements, and interior materials and creature comforts. Aside from modern paint colors, wheels, and tires, they would look very much like their original counterparts. They need not be quasi race cars, loaded to the gills with hi-tech hardware. Just brand new, modernized, old-style Corvettes. Sound interesting? So, let’s look at each component.
Engine & Drive Train: Each car could be powered by an LS3 engine, coupled with a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. Suspensions should use essentially the original design layout, but with modern shocks, correct anti-sway bars, bushings, steering, etc. The frames should be patterned after the originals, but strengthened in all the known areas of weakness and modified to accept wider tires.
Wheels, Tires, & Brakes: The modified frames could accept tires with modern widths. The wheel diameters should stay at 15-inches so that the wheel/tire proportion looks period correct in the wheelwells. Wheels should be spun-cast aluminum and period styled. C1s could get 15×8 Halibrand styled wheels. C2 and C3 cars could get 15×8-inch spun-cast aluminum Rally wheels or finned knock-odd-style wheels. Brakes should be modern C6 base model brakes.
Interior: The dash layouts should stay true to their original design, but with upgraded electronic gauges, Bose sound system, airbags, modern leather bucket seats (the original C2 and C2 buckets are really just narrow bench seats), A/C, electric windows and side mirrors, and Nav system. These are cruisers, so the emphasis is on comfort and amenities.
Body: The C1 and C2 cars should get small ‘67-’69 Z-28-style chin spoilers. The C2 cars need a slight forward rake to keep the front end down at higher speeds, All of the cars need to be slightly lowered too. There should be optional hoods. Headlights should be modern LED units but styled in period correct housings. The bumpers must meet standard crash requirements. And lastly, the fiberglass should be completely modern and painted with the newest paints and tintcoats in modern or classic colors. Strips packages can be classic or modern.
Without completely engineering and menuing out the entire line, I think you get the drift of what I have outlined. What a hoot it would be to be able to go to your local Chevrolet dealer and buy an modern 1957 Fuelie Corvette. or maybe you’d like a modern 1963 Split-Window Coupe Sting Ray Fuelie. or how about a slick LS3-powered ‘78 Coupe Hatchback. Huh?
And what are the chances of something like this ever happening? Oh, pretty close to ZERO! It’s the kind of suggestion that would get a young designer booted right out of the GM Design Center. A logical argument could easily be made that new retro Corvettes would bleed away sales from the new Corvettes. Or, with the right marketing program, retro Corvettes might increase the number of buyers. And perhaps if the car handled and road like a modern sports car, instead of a fast truck, younger buyers would want one. (Come on, we all know those older Vettes were more like fast trucks.) There could be a lot of parts swapping and GM certainly has the resources and infrastructure to pull off something like this. And then again, GM and the car industry in general doesn’t seem to be in the mood for going out on a limb.
As of this writing, only Chevrolet insiders know what the new C7 Corvette will look like. There’s been a lot of media jib-jam about the next Corvette appealing to younger buyers that say they don’t want their father’s Corvette. Does that mean that the next Corvette should look like a Nissan GT-R – a fast bar of soap? And why isn’t the same criticism leveled against the 911 Porsche that still has the classic 911 lines! The Boxster and Cayman cost about the same as a base Corvette and the top of the line 911 Turbo S runs between $135,%00 and $172,100. Are “young people” buying Porsches?
And then there’s the issue of price. Corvettes have always cost around double that of a regular Chevy, just like today. The catch is that most younger people can’t afford a $50,000 to $60,000 car, period. Should the Corvette be made on the Camaro platform? Well, that certainly would be the kiss of death. or should the car just drive off into the sunset? “Okay Corvettes, your time is over. Please go peacefully and don’t whimper.” No, let’s not go there.
But back to the retro Corvettes. If you look outside GM, it’s really not all that far fetched. Take a look at the Dynacorn Classic Bodies, Inc. company. They offer brand new GM bodies including, ‘67, ‘68, and ‘69 Camaro bodies, ‘67 and ‘69 Firebirds, ‘70 Chevelles, and Chevy truck bodies from ‘47 to ‘50, ‘52 to ‘54, and ‘55 to ‘57. For Ford Mustang fans they have ‘67, ‘68, ‘69, and ‘70 bodies. How you outfit and finish them is up to you and your bank account If Dynacorn made Corvette bodies and frames, the aftermarket industry could supply the rest of the parts. GM offers an excellent line of modern crate engines. All you’d need is someone to build the cars and BAM, there’s your retro Corvette line. Perhaps after the economy recovers, this dog could hunt! Yes? No?
With a heritage as long and as deep as the Corvette’s, the possibilities are indeed delicious! Think about it and let us know what your version of a NEW (old)Corvette would be. Enjoy. – Scott