How the Corvette Has Evolved from C6 to C7
Since its 1953 introduction into the automotive industry, Corvette has been the archetypal American muscle car, an exemplary performance machine with supreme style, the quintessential model for Chevy dealers.
Until 2014, the C6 was the latest embodiment of this image. After a nine month production run, the C6 was discontinued in 2013 and replaced by the C7.
The Corvette C7, the latest in the lineup, is arguably the most perfectly complete Corvette manufactured to date. But it hasn’t forgotten where it came from. This is an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary car.
In fact, the C7 even resurrected the stingray image and branding first seen in 1976. With that historic nod and cutting-edge design, the C7 Stingray (initially spelled Sting Ray) was the most awarded car of 2014.
But, how did the sixth generation Corvette develop into the stunning C7 and how noticeable are those differences?
This overhaul was initially planned for 2011, but the delay gave Chevrolet’s Research and Design team extra time to finesse the C7, leading to its anticipated and ultimately, much celebrated, release three years later.
Why Fix What Isn’t Broken?
In pursuit of driving perfection, there is always room for improvement.
But, where did the inspiration for the modifications and upgrades on the C7 come from? What motivated the overhaul?
The truth is, Corvette needed to revitalize its image.
Too many consumers considered the Corvette an old man’s toy.
No one wants to be compared to an old geezer, especially while cruising behind the wheel, but the numbers supported the Corvette’s spiced-up, senior citizen reputation.
In 2012, approximately 46 percent of Corvette buyers were 55 years of age or older, compared to the same age bracket for Audi at 22 percent, and Porsche 911 with 30 percent.
A major makeover was in order to transform the Corvette into a young man’s car again and a major makeover is just what it got.
Marketing techniques introduced the newly madeover C6 to the world ahead of time, first in November 2012 where it was decked out in camouflage on the “Gran Turismo” Playstation video game and later in 2013 at the Indiana 500, where it was featured live as the pace car, marking the twelfth time a Corvette has been used as such.
Pace car editions of the C7 are underway.
The Same, but Different
Evolutionary design, by definition, means that the new keeps some of the features of the old.
In this case, the C6 and C7 share a similar body shape, with the C7 retaining the cabin air filter and rear hatch for the removable roof panel from the C6.
But, the C7 boasts lighterweight modifications, specifically the carbon fiber hood and removable roof panel.
Structurally, the C7 is 99 pounds lighter and 57% stiffer than the steel frame of the C6.
Thanks to a the rear transaxle layout, the C7 graces the road with a 50/50 weight distribution.
Additionally, both the C6 and C7 have optional active exhaust, making that iconic roar and burble sound we expect to accompany the sight of a Corvette.
Incomparable Inner Beauty
No matter how keen the observer, the main and most obvious difference between the C6 and C7 is the interior.
The C7, available as a targa or convertible, shows off so many interior upgrades with respect to design, comfort, and technology.
At a glance, drivers can’t miss the luxurious upgrades in the redesigned cockpit, proof of an overall improved interior fit and finish.
There are absolutely no hard plastics in the C7; every contact surface is covered with either leather, aluminum, carbon-fiber, or soft-touch plastic, a refusal of the “cheap, hard-plasticky” criticism leveled at earlier Corvettes.
Red leather wrapped seats and steering wheel with its improved electric steering precision, complement two seat options, the standard GT (Grand Touring), designed for long-distance comfort or the available competition-ready seat, both designed with magnesium frames, which replaced the C6 composite frames.
No matter which you prefer, both offer improved lateral support to driver and passenger alike.
Equipped with a 6.2-L LT1 V8 engine, capable of producing 460 horsepower with 465 lb.-ft. of torque, able to zip from zero to sixty mph in 3.7 seconds, reaching a top speed of 181 mph, the C7 also boasts an improved fuel economy of 16/29 mpg.
Standard seven-speed Tremec manual or optional and improved “Hydra-Matic” automatic transmission with paddle shifters, accompany the front-engine rear-wheel drive platform, a more cost-efficient platform to manufacture, which keeps the MSRP around $75,000 for a fully loaded C7, far more affordable than its same-class competitors.
With direct injection, continuously variable valve timing, and variable displacement, the LT1 engine is able to switch off four of its eight cylinders when traveling at constant speed or when braking. This improves the C7 Stingray’s overall fuel efficiency and economy.
This is the fastest, most capable, and most powerful Corvette on the road. Sounds about as complete a package as anyone could hope to drive. With the Corvette C7, Chevy has truly delivered a seminal driving machine.
Not to Mention a Complete Knockout
Adorned with a brand-new crossed flags and stingray logo, the C7 sports some exterior upgrades, similar to the boxy-styling of the Camaro, but still unmistakably Corvette.
The addition of a rear quarter window and redesigned taillamps, still in the quad-lens Corvette tradition, but this time in a rhomboid shape with dogleg cutouts, glare fiercely from atop four exhaust pipes positioned dead center on the rear fascia.
The C7 abandons the round taillights of its past with designers opting for more Camaro-like LED clusters.
More angular in its overall design and featuring extra vents for improved handling, and reduced lift and drag, the C7 comes in six trim levels:
- Z51 1LT
- Z51 2 LT
- Z51 3LT
The ten-color palette offers a dazzling choice of:
- Arctic White
- Torch Red,
- Black Silver Metallic
- Cyber Gray Metallic
- Night Race Blue Metallic
- Laguna Blue Tintcoat
- Velocity Yellow Tintcoat
- Crystal Red Tintcoat
- Lime Rock Green Metallic
Standard 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport run-flats, which were specifically designed and developed for the C7.
An Award-Winning Evolution
No sooner had the C7 spun its wheels out of the showroom that Automobile Magazine selected the Corvette C7 as its “2014 Automobile of the Year.”
Car and Driver chose the C7 in 2014 to top its annual “Ten Best” list.
In 2014, the C7 was nominated and subsequently won “North American Car of the Year.”
Kelley Blue Book gave the 2014 C7 an overall rating of 9.3 out of 10.
Road and Track selected the C7 as its “Performance Car of the Year.”
The accolades go on and on, proof that the C7 is an impressive machine.
But if these awards do not fully convince you that this is the most polished and perfect Corvette ever made, we dare you to try it.
Revitalize yourself behind the wheel of the Stingray, and feel the years fade away with every conquered mile. No longer an old man’s car, the Stingray is sharp, sexy, and not for the faint-hearted.
Be a part of the Stingray’s storied evolution and check out your local Chevy dealers for an amazing variety of lease and purchase options.
Like its predecessors, the Corvette C7 Stingray is destined to become a classic, the stuff of automotive legend.