GM’s top Car Guy, Ed Welburn, introduces the Tom Peters-designed Corvette Stingray Concept car to the world at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show!
Every debutante has her day, that special day when she’s the bell of the ball. Corvette styling chief and lead designer of the C6 Corvette and the Corvette Stingray Concept car, Tom Peters was a proud papa on February 11,2009 when GM’s Ed Welburn debuted the Corvette Stingray Concept car at the Chicago Auto Show. Before we get into the rest of the event, let me get this out of the way in the beginning. In Spring ‘11 I had the opportunity to talk at length with Tom Peters for my Illustrated Corvette Series No. 170 2-page color special edition covering the latest and arguably the swoopiest Corvette concept car to ever wear the Corvette moniker. Tom was emphatic, “This is NOT the C7 Corvette.”
I already knew that before we spoke and perhaps it was my clarification before we talked that I was not trying to fish for details about the C7 design we all know Tom and his team have been working very hard upon. Our conversation was strictly focused on the actual Corvette Stingray Concept car. While there are tons of photos with copious amounts of regurgitated generic speculation about what the latest concept Vette represents, there were actually very few details about the actual car. You can read the compete article as it appeared in the August 2011 issue of VETTE Magazine, HERE.
But for this post, lets get back to the debut video. Corvettes have never been far from Hollywood. Millions of Americans weekly enjoyed the adventures of Todd Styles (Martin Milner) and Buzz Murdock (George Maharis) in the early ‘60s TV show, “Route 66.” Corvettes have had bit parts in everything from the Elvis Presley movie, “Clambake,” the film, “Corvette Summer,” the 80s TV show “Stingray,” and now the latest in the Transformers franchise, as the car/transforming robot machine, “Sideswipe” in the Michael Bay film, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” Unlike the Presley film, “Clambake” which used a red version of the ‘59 Stingray Racer, the over-the-top customized C3 Corvette in “Corvette Summer, and the TV series “Stingray” that featured a black ‘65 small-block Coupe, the Transformers hero, “Sideswipe” is definitely NOT a recycled Corvette. No, Sideswipe is based on the latest styling exercise, the Corvette Stingray Concept car. Although some of the styling elements are somewhat polarizing, the overall shape definitely screams “CORVETTE!” I’d bet that if you were to drive this car to any gas station, the second question you’d hear (after, “Fill’r up?”) would be, “So when did Chevy start selling the new Corvette.”
Like a proud papa, GM’s VP of Global Design, Ed Welburn announces the latest Corvette concept car as the drape slid off of the low-slung, curvaceous body, to be greeted with loud whoops, squeals, cheers, and applause. Peters took his inspiration from one of the all-time classic American car shapes, the 1959 Stingray Racer and the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray Split-Window Coupe.
Designing a new Corvette is THE most difficult automotive design job in the world. The new design has to look fresh, yet it has to look like a Corvette. A few years ago there was a call from GM’s upper management for GM design centers from around the world to create their vision of a “world Corvette.” Personally, the challenge gave me the chills. The international sports car community will never, never, never accept the Corvette because they did not originate the Corvette. The Corvette is uniquely “American,” therefor is it a little on the large size and is definitely bold and brash. And truth be told, as modern sports cars have developed, several of the latest “world class” offerings are larger and heavier than the current C6 Z06! Contemporary sports car buyers are not overall interested in spartan, compact machines. The modern sports car has evolved into what was once called a “Grand Touring, GT car” – complete with every imaginable creature comfort, trim, bling, electro-gizmo gadget you can imagine. Oh, and lets not forget mega doses of horsepower and torque.
Yes, the ground rules have changed and with very few exceptions, the days of the 2,000-pound, high-revving, bare bones sports car are long gone. In a sense, the rest of the market has caught up with the Corvette. Since 1957 with the introduction of the first Fuelie Corvette, Chevrolet’s American sports car has delivered more performance, dollar-for-dollar, than anything else in the market place of its day. It’s become part of the Corvette tradition. Yes, there are a handful of cars that can out perform the C6 Z06 and ZR1. And you’ll have to spend half as much more, to double the amount of cash to do so.
The latest from Chevrolet is that the C7 is likely to be a ‘14 model, released for sale midway through 2013. A year from now we’ll probably be seeing spy photos or goofy-looking, heavily disguised mule C7s. When we do, don’t panic – those cars always look bad. Until then, kick back, daydream, and enjoy the videos. – Scott
PS – You can check out my Illustrated Corvette Series No. 170 2-page color feature covering the Corvette Stingray Concept car HERE.
And for those that prefer the art and no story, we have the below version.
And for fans of the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray Split-Window Coupe, check this out…