Less than two months after the 2014 Corvette Stingray coupe was revealed at the Detroit Auto Show, the C7 convertible made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. “While the name is synonymous with Americana, the new Corvette is distinctively international in its design, technology and driving experience,” said Susan Docherty, President and Managing Director of Chevrolet and Cadillac Europe in Geneva. “That’s why it’s fitting that we introduce the convertible right here on this stage.”
General Motors hopes for big increases in Corvette sales abroad, and isn’t waiting around to get started. The 2014 Stingray convertible and coupe will be available globally beginning in late 2013, with markets including Europe, the UK, the Middle East, Japan and Russia. It was designed in such a way that regional changes required are limited to such things a headlights and side mirrors. The car will continue to be available in left-hand-drive configuration only; Chevrolet has never built a series-production right-hand-drive Corvette.
In the United States and Canada, Stingray convertible sales will also begin around the November time frame, roughly three months after the coupes start arriving at dealerships. Prices have yet to be announced, but expect a sticker that is a little north of the current model, which retails for $54,600.
As with its C5 and C6 predecessors, the C7’s frame did not need to be re-engineered for droptop duty, as was the case with the fourth-generation Corvette. “From the very beginning, the car was designed as an open-top vehicle,” says Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter. “The coupe’s roof is removable, too, so we optimized everything for open-top driving.”
Structurally, the differences between Stingray coupe and convertible are minor, and limited to making space for the folding soft top and repositioning the seatbelt mounts. No extra bracing was required to maintain the new aluminum frame’s incredible stiffness—it’s 57-percent more torsionally rigid than the C6’s steel frame, and 99 pounds lighter—which means the convertible’s curb weight will be only slightly higher and its performance hardly diminished compared to the coupe.
For the first time in Corvette history, the new Stingray’s top is fully electric, meaning there is no mechanical latch for the driver to physically release; the top can be raised or lowered in 21 seconds by pushing a button to the left of the steering or via the key fob. And there’s a new trick: These operations can be performed at speeds of up to 30 mph.
Supplied by the Haartz Corporation of Acton, Massachusetts, the top features three-ply construction that has been optimized for sound insulation and all-weather protection. The outer layer is an acrylic twill (available in black, gray, blue and a tan called Kalahari), the inner layer is rubber and the interior lining is a polyester fabric. Says Juechter, “The top is extremely well sealed and quiet, so the driving experience—including the chassis tuning and everything else associated with the driving experience—is the same whether you’re driving a coupe or a convertible.”
The shape of the top is similar to that of the C6 convertible’s, with a rectangular, glass rear window; the Stingray coupe’s rear quarter windows did not make the transition to the convertible layout. The coupe’s rear fender-mounted air inlets, which feed automatic transmission and electronic limited-slip differential coolers, were also lost in translation. Automatic and Z51 Performance Package-equipped convertibles will still have the heat exchangers, but they will draw cooling air from the bottom of the car.
Reflecting the Stingray’s sharply creased styling, the headrest fairings on the rigid tonneau cover now have a much more angular design—the C6’s rounded humps are gone. In addition, the fairings now sport black accent panels. The “waterfall,” the cockpit panel between the seats that flows from the tonneau, has been preserved. As before, it bears the Corvette crossed-flag emblem, albeit the new V-shaped one.
The last time Chevrolet offered a Stingray convertible was 1975—nearly four decades ago. That’s a long time, but this 2014 version looks to be worth the wait.