By Jacques Gordon, Managing Editor, MACS ACTION Magazine
The seventh generation Corvette is scheduled for sale later this year, and Chevrolet is calling it the Stingray. Although I’ve only seen pictures, I think it’s gorgeous, but what the car looks like under the skin is a major departure from Corvettes of the past, and I think it shows a welcome change in GM’s attitude towards their products.
The Corvette is arguably the first “halo” car; a model intended to attract people to the brand even if they don’t plan on buying that particular model. The Corvette previously accomplished that mission using attitude more than anything else. Oh, it’s always had the potential for race-winning performance and has often sported some exotic technology. And even in the early ’80s when it was bloated with hastily-designed government-mandated equipment, at least the Corvette still had its unique styling (Opel GT not withstanding). But as sports cars from overseas began to clearly out-class the Corvette both on and off the track, one couldn’t help but wonder why this was the best Chevrolet could do with the car that was supposed to exemplify the brand.
To be sure the bean counters were largely to blame, but the cost of building cars was only part of the picture. GM got into the finance business over 90 years ago as a way to help customers buy their products, but in the 1980s that business expanded into mortgage and commercial finance, insurance and even regular online banking. On a recent news radio program, a GM spokesperson said, “We used to be a car company. Then we became a bank that also makes cars.”
By 2000 the company was bleeding serious money every quarter, and they finally began selling off the financial business two years before the general economy imploded in 2008. Some people think the government should not have rescued GM, but there’s no doubt the restructuring allowed the new company to focus on the business of building cars.
And so we have a new LT1 aluminum engine that shares only its predecessor’s 6.2L displacement and 2-valve pushrod architecture. Otherwise it’s bristling with advanced technology, including direct fuel injection, variable cam timing, dry-sump lubrication and cylinder deactivation (for gas mileage). The car’s frame is aluminum and magnesium, some body panels are carbon-fiber, there’s a 7-speed transmission, state-of-the-art engine management, electronically-controlled suspension…and much, much more.
GM has once again built the best Corvette they can make, and I think that’s the best feature of all.
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