The 2014 Stingray is a radically new Corvette. With its sharply creased lines, race-inspired vents and reconfigured greenhouse, the C7 has a boldly different appearance—edgier, less nostalgic. Under the skin, the new machine is just as much of a departure. It features an aluminum frame, a direct-injection V8 engine and a completely revamped cockpit. Whereas the move from C5 to C6 was a small step, the progression from C6 to C7 constitutes a giant leap.
The styling change is a brave move on Chevrolet’s part, as it runs the risk of alienating the Corvette’s traditional customer base, but in some ways the carmaker didn’t have a choice. With Corvette sales having fallen to alarmingly low levels in recent years, it had to do something drastic in to order reach more customers. “We wanted a clean departure,” says Corvette Product Manager Harlan Charles of the Stingray’s styling. “We wanted to evoke the Corvette, but every surface of the car had to be different. We wanted it to get noticed by a new group of people who may not have been paying attention to Corvette for a long time.”
More than simply being attention grabbing, the new Corvette’s styling needed to be purposeful. “The goal was a bold design statement that embraced the advanced technology of the car, while enhancing its overall performance in everything from the wind tunnel to the track,” explains Ken Parkinson, Executive Director of GM Global Design.
Executive Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter says he knew from the outset the Corvette needed a major redesign. Fortunately, he and his team had the full support of GM. “We had a blank sheet of paper,” says Juechter. By leveraging knowledge gained from Corvette Racing, incorporating new technology and refining existing designs, Chevrolet has created what Juechter describes as “the most capable standard Corvette that we’ve ever built.”
The 2014 Stingray looks striking. It has the head-turning wow factor of an exotic supercar, something that cannot be said about the sixth-generation Corvette, even in ZR1 trim. “It’s a hard car to ignore,” says Product Manager Charles, which is exactly the point. Yet the C7’s skin also needed to move the game forward in terms of airflow management, lighting technology and material usage. “Developing a new Corvette, while every designer’s dream, is not an easy task,” says Global Design boss Parkinson. That difficult assignment was given to Exterior Design Manager Kirk Bennion.