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As it tends to do around this time, the year is steadily drawing to a close; 2013 is dwindling like a tiki torch running out of citronella-scented oil. The last flickers are smoldering, but she burned brightly for 12 months so the end is not in vain.
Lots of important car news broke through the year as the industry continues to evolve and stabilize coming out of the devastating Great Recession. Capping the year, here are the Top 10 Automotive Stories from 2013.
Top 10 Corvettes of All Time
The Corvette is an automotive icon, an example of just how impressive a car can be mechanically and aesthetically, yet at the same time offer an affordable (relatively speaking) price tag.
Having now driven the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, we’ve decided to look back at the entire history of the famous sports car to pick and choose our favorites, including some of the most original, significant and downright awesome Corvettes of all time.
As cars go, the Corvette is about as American as fireworks bursting into a stars and stripes pattern on the Fourth of July.
More information on the upcoming C7 Corvette emerged early this morning from a press conference in Detroit set to discuss the car’s all-new LT1 engine.
It’s design might be anything but groundbreaking, but don’t ever say the Porsche 911 isn’t a trend setter. Offering the first 7-speed manual transmission in a production car, the new 911 won’t be the only high performance model to get such a multi-geared stick shift with Chevrolet set to hop on the bandwagon.
Arriving some time in 2013 as a 2014 model year car,the C7 Corvette will be offered with a standard 7-speed manual. As for the car’s engine, don’t look for any major changes when it comes to the type of engine, with a pushrod V8 expected under the hood. That small block will, however, get direct-injection and variable lift, enabling more power with considerably improved fuel economy.
Looks like somebody at General Motors got the memo about Corvette owners being aging, denim-swathed lotharios. And to better target the sort of young trendsetters posing in Porsches, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis, GM is planning to give some European substance to the Corvette in the form of a smaller turbo V8.
That somebody is Mark Reuss, by the way—GM’s North American president who stated that the seventh-generation C7 Corvette will be “completely different” than the current model. He helped approve plans for a smaller-displacement, higher-revving V8 that would shake up many of the key characteristics that have defined the Corvette over the years. For example, instead of pushrods and overhead valves the new V8 would be an OHC. Instead of the adage “there’s no replacement for displacement,” the V8′s size would be cut down from 6.0 liters to half that size.
And for the first time in its 60 years, the ‘Vette would get turbo motivation—for a flat torque curve and more usable performance in different driving conditions. In total, the new engine should deliver 400 horsepower minimum, and at a projected 3 liters it would churn out 125 horsepower per liter while revving as far as 10,000 RPM.
With these high-tech powertrain advancements, Reuss wants to “target a very different sort of buyer for the next Corvette. Let’s face it, the current customer is getting old.” Still, the traditional OHV engine will be offered with more engine choices across the board than there are now. And as far as styling goes, it would be kept traditional and draw cues from legendary bygone models. Lastly, the oft-criticized interior will be “world-class,” says Ed Welburn, GM’s global design chief who is personally overseeing its interior redesign.
Now would be a good time to revisit those fun mid-engine rumors that have fueled Corvette concepts since the 80s. What’s next—Porsche captures the displaced, aging baby boomers by giving the next 911 a HEMI engine mounted way up front somewhere? Stranger thing have happened in the automotive world, and enthusiasts have burned down castle gates over less.
[Source: The Detroit Bureau]
General Motors is not planning to change the Chevy Corvette to a mid-engine layout in future generations, despite numerous reports indicating it would. GM’s VP of global engineering, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, recently commented that the much-rumored switch had no basis in truth. In addition, GM spokesman Dan Flores reiterated Stracke’s comments stating that, “The rumors and speculation about the Corvette are just that. There is no mid-engine in the plans.”
Sadly, Flores also commented that a dual-clutch transmission isn’t planned either – something GM will eventually need if it wants the Corvette to stay competitive with high-powered European sports cars. News of a mid-engined layout and dual-clutch tranny for the Vette popped up recently when a Saab engineer commented to a trade publication that the Swedish division had developed just such a unit for a future mid-engine Corvette.
When asked about a hybrid Corvette, Stracke didn’t deny the possibility, instead commenting about CAFE standards and how offering a hybrid version could be come a mainstream offering, while Chevy would still look to build a conventional powertrain for a small number of dedicated high-performance enthusiasts. Interestingly, he did seem to consider the hybrid layout as an alternative to a high-powered one, rather than using hybrid technology to add power and performance – something other automakers are already are doing.
[Source: Automotive News]
The next-generation (C7) Chevrolet Corvette will get a new 5.5-liter small block V8, making roughly 440-hp. According to sources tapped by Motor Trend, the new engine is already undergoing testing. In fact, GM has already given a related version of this new 5.5-liter motor plenty of test time in its new GT2 Corvette Racing C6.R cars, competing in the American Le Mans Series.
The new small block V8 is reported to have both direct-injection, as well as a new combustion system design – possibly a hint that GM is planning variable valve timing for the venerable pushrod V8.
While the power increase is just 10 ponies above the current V8, fuel economy should be improved significantly and we expect that through the use of lighter weight materials and possibly some exciting new transmission changes, acceleration will no doubt be improved upon as well.
And while we’re excited to see what the General has in store for the C7 Corvette, rumors suggest this model is somewhat of a post-bankruptcy stop-gap as GM plans a major overhaul of the Corvette for it’s 8th generation model.
[Source: Motor Trend]
General Motors sees rough waters ahead for the Corvette unless changes are made to the vehicle now. So in an effort to solve any potential issues before they actually become problems, Chevy has decided to look outside America for help.
So what would sort of problems could the incredibly capable American icon have? Well, according to a report in AutoWeek, GM saw a 48 percent sales decline for the Corvette over the last year, while the bigger issue might be that the average age of Corvette buyers continues to rise. Last year, the average age was 54. Chevy believes that in order to combat this issue and make the Vette more attractive to a younger demographic it needs a design change. After all, the car’s performance certainly can’t be in question.
According to GM’s VP of global design, Ed Welburn, last year the company approached its European Design studios to to send in next generation (C7) Corvette design proposals. “We have to develop a design that feels trimmer, meaner, to go along with the incredible performance that the car has,” said Welburn. Currently, the Corvette faces the stigma of being a large car, when in fact it is roughly the same size as the current Porsche 911.
Still, Welburn doesn’t want to alienate his core audience. Speaking about the new design he says, “It can’t mutate into something that gets so far away from Corvette that it is no longer a Corvette.”
We’re eager to see what a more European-style Corvette might look like. Now if only Chevy would give the Corvette a more European interior.
The next generation of the Corvette will come with a rear split-window design. GM’s global design boss Ed Welburn said that the next Corvette, known as the C7, will take on some retro styling cues, like the two-part rear window that first appeared on the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray Coupe.
That design actually only ever last just one year, but has become such an iconic symbol of the Corvette’s legendary heritage.
Welburn said that with modern back-up cameras and blind-sot detection systems, the limited visibility of such a design isn’t as much of an issue as it once was. He did not, however, specify if this would be standard on all models or (as is more likely) if it will be a specific trim level, option pack, or a special model.
Such a design was first hinted at with the Stingray Concept that was featured in the recent Transformers movie. That car is not the next Corvette,” said Welburn to Inside Line. “But the split window is something that I expect for the next Corvette.”
Earlier this week GM laid out it’s two-year-plan at a product and technology event, with the focus being on new Buick and Cadillac models and, of course, the 230 mpg claim for the Chevrolet Volt. But there was another tid-bit of info in that two-year-plan on another highly-anticipated Chevy… the C7 Corvette.
Initially the next generation Corvette had been postponed until 2014, but according to GM’s latest plans the car’s production has been bumped up, leaving the engineering team significantly less time to re-create the legendary sports car.
That being said, it’s no surprise that the Corvette will continue to use it’s front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout. What isn’t clear is, well… everything else. As for the design, with the limited time frame we would expect to see an evolutionary new body, but considering the big changes at GM these days, the automaker may want to help set itself apart from the past by using more progressive sheetmetal, like that off the Corvette Stingray Concept (pictured above).
We do expect to see more light weight materials, including carbon fiber, aluminum and magnesium and there is also the possibility of a smaller, yet more powerful engine. Forced induction on all models is also not out of the question.
With test-mules expected in 2011, we’ll keep our eyes focused on the Nürburgring to see how development of the C7 Corvette is going.