Monday, February 11, 2013

Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick

My Generation

Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick

by   Rick Tavel© 1-16-13 All Rights Reserved

 One13thirteen has come and gone and the unveiling Chevrolet promised was everything that the loyal Corvette enthusiasts expected.  Though the final design was no real surprise to those of us who have been following it closely for more than a year, the renderings of the 2014 Corvette C7 from Jalopnik®, Car & Driver®, and others were strikingly close to the actual car unveiled Sunday to the media and which will be available to a hungry public later this year. 
But even though most of the renderings were surprisingly accurate, being able to see the real car added a “finality”, either good or bad, to the first step of passing the torch to a new generation of Corvette.  No longer can the traditionalists “hope” that the renderings were incorrect on the “Camaroesque” tail lights and somehow the round quads would actually show up in the final design.  The renderings weren’t wrong and they are pretty much just like rendered.  No longer can we hope the that a better “Orange” paint color would become available, it’s not, infact there is no “orange” for 2014 so Texas and Tennessee fans can send their complaints to GM.  But many hoped the “Stingray” moniker would return and it did to an overwhelmingly positive public. 
 In many ways the unveiling was similar to seeing your “mail order bride” for the first time, or a more appropriate twenty first century analogy, meeting that special person from the “chat room” with whom only photographs have been exchanged.  Photos technically do not lie but they can deceive.  But that is over, now we know, we’ve seen it and “What you see is what you get,” so to speak.   The designers and engineers at GM have given us what we have so excitedly anticipated; much of the speculation on the C7 has been put to rest.  The seventh in a string of exciting Corvette generations is ours, what we see is what we get! 

 I’m not going to rehash the hundreds of articles recapping every little detail of the last Sunday evening.  Suffice it to say, the initial response was overwhelmingly positive.  I think the biggest surprise was how few surprises there were.  How close the renderings were to “nailing” much of the new car’s design. 

Some may think that General Motors North American President, Mark Reuss’s use of, “breathtaking”, to describe the design may have been an over-exaggeration but, put in perspective, I can’t think of a single word more appropriate for our new Corvette.  Had we not been bombarded with hundreds of spy photos and “leaks” of the new design over the past year, few of us could have come up with a more accurate, descriptive word when the curtain was raised on the new “Stingray”.  Initial comments and reviews from the media who were privileged enough to see the car “up close and personal” praised the design of the body and the interior. And the media reviews appear to reflect the overall response from first time viewers where the response in one on line poll focused on the new look was running 86% “Love”, 9% “Indifferent” and only 5% “Hate”.   

 I am confident that there are thousands of GM employees that are breathing a little easier following the unveiling, knowing that the thousands of hours and the piles of money spent sweating, not only the “small stuff”, but every little detail of the new car “opened”  to such overwhelmingly positive reviews.   Those thousands of GM employees deserve to be proud of what has been achieved; take a minute, oh what the hell, take a day or two, sit back, toast each other, and get some well deserved rest because what you gave us on Sunday was only the foundation, the platform, on which the “greatness” of the C7 will be modified, refined and molded moving forward to remain the King.  Though the design was “breathtaking” and will serve the generation well we need to begin the process of insuring this car will remain the King of the Hill.  And I am sure you noticed some of the competition is working hard to take away that title.  So GM engineers rest up there is some major work ahead.

 In many ways the introduction of the C7 is similar to the introduction of the C5 in 1997 in the performance area.  What I mean is the generation will debut with a completely new engine design and few if any performance upgrades.  There will be no engines carried over from the prior generations as was the case (other than minor modifications) when the C2, C3, C4 and C6 generations previewed. Those engines had years of refinement and development and their performance assured the new generation a strong start.  If history is any indication based on the success of the all new LS1 introduced in the C5 back in 1997, maybe there is no need to worry about the new LT1. 
Hopefully the new LT1 engine is already being prepared to make an assault on the HP, ¼ mile, and top speed titles.   The simple fact is, like never before, the Corvette’s overall performance title is in jeopardy of being stolen.  Thankfully at this point the 2013 ZR1  has assured some breathing room,  comfort level if you will, helping secure the performance crown by besting one of the Corvette’s most dangerous competitors, the SRT Viper. You most likely have read how the ZR1 bested the Viper on the track, on the dyno and even in a “burnout” faceoff.  But as we all know fame is fleeting and the troops at Viper will mount another assault and we will have to be prepared with a more powerful, performance based version on the C7 once the ZR1 is retired at the end of this model year.

 Again if we look back at the C5 as a comparison, it took the team three years before the Z06 joined the performance battle.  I will be the first to say we do not have three years. Sometimes as being a part of the Corvette society we can become a little myopic.  If you haven’t taken the time recently to read up on what is happening over at the blue oval and even from Chrysler it may keep you awake at night. One of the major differences between 1997 and now is the sheer number of potential assassins on all levels, even from within our own  castle walls from the Camaro ZL1.  But perhaps the greatest threat will come from the new Shelby GT500, a real life “mouse that roared”.  The question is, “are we prepared?”  Are the engineers at GM well on their way to developing new weapons for the arsenal? 

Thought you’d like to see some official performance specs.



                         Corvette 2014             Corvette 2013            Corvette 2013 ZR1                 Camaro 2013 ZL1                     2013 GT500 Shelby
Engine             6.2-liter V8                  6.2-liter V8                   6.2-liter V8 Supercharged     6.2-liter V8 Supercharged      5.8- liter Supercharged

HP                    450@5,900 rpm         430@5,900 rpm          638 @ 6,500 rpm                    580 @ 6,000                             662 HP

Torque            450@4,400 rpm         424@4,600 rpm          604@ 3,800 rpm                     556 @ 4,200                             631

0-60                                                        4.3                                 3.4                                            3.9                                              3.7

Top Speed                                             190 MPH (est)              210 MPH (est)                       180 MPH                                   200 MPH
¼ mile                                                     12.6 @ 115                 11.4 @ 129.7                          12.1 @ 117                               11.8 @ 125


Those numbers are are as of today.  The GT500 numbers are the 2013 numbers and the “Blue Oval Boys” are working hard on the all new 2015 that according to them will completely dethrone the King.  Already enthusiast magazines are hailing the 2013 GT500’s engine as the best performance engine, bar none, that can be purchased at any price.  Concerning!  Quick hand me my Ambien, my Lunesta!  Better yet get me my “Jack”! 

 It would be interesting to know just how many Corvette sales have been generated because it is not only the “best” but also the “baddest” American production performance car that can be had.  How many buyers fork-over their cash, sign on the dotted line in order to won the best and the baddest?  Personally I don’t deceive myself, my days of pushing a ZR1 or Z06 to their limits have passed me by.  There once was a time….(but that is another story for another day).  So like so many others I am more than satisfied with my base C6 with the performance suspension and exhaust.  The car fits me and I love it, like I love my C5.  But I also like knowing that I drive a Corvette, the King of the Hill, even though with my diminishing racing skills and lack of performance upgrades another model ) a ZL1 or even a GT500 (with a competent driver) could hand me my ass.  It’s not that I brag about it or flaunt it I just take solace in knowing that “my big brother can beat you up!”  (Right about now I can hear my wife getting on the phone with my therapist.)  I think we all know what I am talking about.  As first year marketing students learn early on  about the buyer who goes into the showroom and spends hours looking at the Torch Red convertible and then sign on the dotted line for an Acadia, or the legendary stories about “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday”.  There are as many reasons a Corvette buyer hands over the money as there are RPO’s.  And I think I could make a pretty good case that a lot of those reasons are tied to being number 1!  They may not buy the ZR1 or Z06, but just owning a Corvette gains the owner admission inside the battle scarred walls off retaining the crown.  And then ask how many of those “loyal” Corvette owners would still be waving the Corvette flag if it is continually being beat-up by some “lesser” automobiles?  Okay so it’s an oxymoron to call anything “lesser” if it bears the standard bearer.  (Sorry)

 Understand, I am not one of those “crepe hangers” and hopefully have no reason to be concerned.  As I have stated several times over the past year, the engineers at GM have done an outstanding job of delivering the best performance car on earth.  But “Forewarned Is Forearmed!”  I think nothing describes the Corvette any better than Campbell-Ewald’s® epic “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet” advertising campaign.  Is there any symbol of our country more identifiable and appropriate than the Corvette? And as such America loves a winner.  We have a tradition of winning and it carries on.  We put our winners on pedestals and honor them, we try to learn from them, emulate them.  I am not advocating bragging and boasting but rather just having the tools to get the job done, to remain on the throne. 

 As being a part of the Corvette round table I am confident that we will prevail.  We have all learned the importance of that Scout motto to “Be Prepared!”  And that is simply all I am advocating.  Being prepared.  We will continue to refine and develop the new C7 as we have other past generations to assure we retain the crown.  At this moment I think it would do GM well to subscribe to what Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed,    “Walk softly and carry a big stick!”



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