Creating the C7 Corvette Stingray: The Inside Story

Gary S. Vasilash

If there is any question about the value of the government loan guarantees to General Motors, here’s one reason why they were beneficial:

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

That’s right, the C7 Corvette.

“Wait,” you say. “The government isn’t going to be getting all of its money back due to the price of the stock not being what they invested.”

Here’s a way to think about that: The U.S. spends a whole lot of money projecting our force and image around the world. The 2014 Corvette can compete with the best in the world, especially in that it is a car with an array of technology that is found in supercars costing at least five times as much.

You want to show the world what the U.S. can do? Show them an iPhone and a Corvette.

I bring up the loan guarantees because when asked about when the product development started for the C7, Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer, said that it really began in earnest after the GM bankruptcy.

Juechter explained on “Autoline After Hours” that the initial plan had been to do a major improvement to the C6 Corvette (“an evolutionary major,” using, for example, the aluminum hydroformed frame rails developed for the Z06 and ZR1, but they determined that for what they wanted to accomplish in terms of performance, that wasn’t going to work. “We weren’t going to Band-Aid our way to a good solution,” Juechter said.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

So they started on a clean sheet approach, and decided that they would “not be beholden to past manufacturing practices or hard points,” as they worked to create a car that is stiff, light, fast, efficient, and with a breathtaking design that looks different, looks good, and works functionally both on the highway and on the track.

Juechter talks about using carbon fiber composites (the roof and hood are carbon fiber—standard), making a tailored aluminum frame (combining castings, extrusions, hydroforming), about optimizing the 455-hp V8 (direct injection, active fuel management, continuously variable valve timing—29 mpg highway; 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds), and much more.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible

In addition to which, Peter DeLorenzo of Autoextremist, John McElroy of Autoline, and I talk about everything from the recent Tesla Model S fires to driving the Rolls-Royce Wraith.

You can see it all here: