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Illustrated Corvette Series No. 160 - C7 Sting Ray Corvette Concept
It seems that a few years into every Corvette generation, designers start thinking about a replacement car. In the summer of 2008, we got a glimpse of a possible C6 successor in the form of a Transformers movie concept car called the Corvette Centennial. Speculation over future Vettes has been sport for automotive journalist for decades, and with all the turmoil inside GM casting doubt on the car’s future, C7—and even C8—rumormongering is rampant.
Let me state at the outset that I have no inside connections to the Corvette design group, and even if I did, they’re not about to spill the beans. That said, two recent developments have contributed to intense conjecture over the next car’s direction. First was the worst Corvette sales year since 1961. Units sold fell from 35,310 in 2008 to 13,934 in ’09—a 60 percent drop! The only good part was that sales of sports cars were off by a similar amount across the industry.
The second factor was the reaction of GM’s new upper management. According to BusinessWeek, ten of the company’s 12-member board of directors have no prior car experience. These officials reacted to the Corvette’s sales drop by calling upon GM design centers from around the world to submit new designs for the C7. While that strategy might make sense to someone with no car-design background, from this writer’s position, it could cause the Vette to lose its essence for the sake of doing something different. So far, we’ve not seen any of these “world designs.”
Three design parameters were set. The first was to attract more customers in Europe, the second was to attract younger buyers, and third was to make the car smaller. Let’s take a moment to dissect these goals. First, although Europeans like watching the booming C6.Rs at Le Mans, they don’t—and probably never will—buy very many Corvette street cars, which represent the antithesis of Euro design. Second, the Corvette has always cost twice as much as a regular Chevy. A $50,000 base Vette simply costs much more than most young people can afford. And third, the size complaint is a purely visual issue. The Porsche 911 Turbo and the Nissan GT-R Premium weigh 362 and 1,105 pounds more than the Z06 Vette, respectively, and yet they aren’t criticized for their bulk. So, does the Corvette have a size problem? Not to me, it doesn't
The latest news is that the C7 will be an interim car, while the “world class” mid-engine C8 is being developed for a possible 2018 release. The details are still up in the air, of course, as eight years model years equal an eternity in the car business.
The proportions of my illustrations match the Centennial concept car. And since that design drew on the C2 as a start, I took the shape of my rendering even closer to the C2 Sting Ray configuration. The side view of the nose definitely says shark, while the grille, side marker signals, and air splitter are all C6 ZR1. I like the forward-leaning front fender vents on the Centennial but borrowed the four-louver side vents from the ‘67, incorporating them into the C6-like side coves. The Centennial has vertical doors, which seem gimmicky to me. I made the doors shorter and cut them into the roof.
The front air splitter, side skirts, and rear valance bring the car up to date. When covered headlights were illegal, the pop-up design made sense, but the faired-in, covered lights add character. I tried a few different hood domes and felt this one worked best. The ‘67 Stinger-style bulge seemed forced. While the grille on the Centennial Concept Corvette is mildly interesting, I see too much Cadillac and not enough Corvette. The “pointiness” of the Centennial is good, but the gills and grille perplex me.
Since the arrival of the C5, the Corvette has been criticized for having a big butt. The Centennial’s rear fenders are unnecessarily bulky and complicate the back-end design. By eliminating them, I was able to slim down the posterior of the car. The lights are classic Corvette. If a Sting Ray–like roof comes back, the first-year car should use a split-window design, with subsequent versions getting a full window—a salute to the original. While it was interesting to see the homage to the split-window on the Centennial, I don’t like the roof indent that runs back to the center terminus of the rear leading edge.
Why did I reach so obviously into the C2 Corvette Sting Ray design? The C6 has a gentle Sting Ray flavor in its front and rear fender humps. The Centennial makes that more obvious. By removing the cartoon front and rear gills, I was able to slim down the back end and hold on to the C6’s excellent nose design. The fender humps are reminiscent of both the C2 and the Mako Shark II. The back end is classic Corvette, updated with a center brake light and ground-effects rear valance. Blog responses to the four center-mounted exhaust tips have been very positive. Side pipes and rear brake vents were tempting. Perhaps they’ll appear on the ZR1 version.
Talk of an “interim car” leaves me flat. Why bother? Just make the current car better. Designing a new Corvette is the hardest styling job in Detroit. It has to look new, yet familiar. I hope the stylists are able to draw on the car’s rich styling background and don’t lose their way chasing a “world car” concept. The Corvette is uniquely American and should stay that way.
Printed on high quality tan-colored parchment paper using a Xante professional grade printer.
This print comes in one size:
11” x 17”
Print is shrink wrapped on 11.5" x 17.5" cardboard so that they stay flat and clean and shipped via USPS Priority Mail. All prints are signed by the artist. They make a wonderful gift for the car lover in your life!