FAST-FORWARD LESSONS IN CORVETTE GENEALOGY
c.2013 New York Times News Service
SEASIDE, Calif. — The Chevrolet Corvette has, over its 60 years of production, reflected the changing styles and tastes of America, says Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America.
To illustrate his point, Reuss made available models from each of the Corvette’s seven generations for back-to-back test drives here last month. Here are the examples of each generation I drove, with the model years produced and the highs and lows as I saw them:
First generation Corvette, known as C1 (produced in 1953-1962)
Highs: Audrey Hepburn-caliber charisma, candy store interior, unforgettable styling.
Lows: Weak 150-horsepower six-cylinder engine, two-speed automatic, spongy suspension.
1966 STING RAY COUPE
Highs: Voluptuous styling; hideaway headlights; optional 425-horsepower V-8 engine; independent rear suspension; glorious, notorious exhaust rumble.
Lows: Hard to drive, harder to shift. Devilishly stiff clutch pedal.
1972 STINGRAY CONVERTIBLE
Highs: Few, although there are devoted fans of the body design.
Lows: Many, including a V-8 that atrophied to 165 horsepower by 1975. Primitive solutions to the era’s fuel, emissions and safety regulations. Disco-era interior.
Highs: Easy to drive, but was that why people want a Corvette? Styling change was long overdue.
Lows: Garish interior, mediocre build quality, noticeable cost-cutting. The test car’s 240-horse V-8 and an automatic transmission offered no motivation to buy.
2001 ZO6 COUPE
Highs: Sportier driving dynamics, a more rigid structure and thunder under the hood to match the lightning of its styling.
Lows: Good, clean fun thwarted by features like “skip-shift” which would force the manual transmission to shift from first to fourth in the interest of helping curb the thirst of its 5.7-liter V-8.
2013 COUPE C6
Highs: Plenty of motor.
Lows: Interior seems to have been designed by accountants, “wag the dog” handling, few improvements through its nine-year life.
2014 STINGRAY COUPE C7
Highs: Engineering department disconnected its old phone numbers, didn’t give accounting department the new ones. Styling department adds a sting ray to the car’s flanks. Blistering 450 horsepower, crisp seven-speed manual, direct fuel injection, stiffer frame. Optional dual-mode exhaust produces a throaty rumble.
Lows: Cheap plastic touch points inside divert attention from nice leather seats and trim.