The Stingray is back.
Chevrolet’s seventh-generation Corvette, unveiled Sunday night at a private gathering for VIPs and automotive journalists in a rambling, old industrial building on Detroit’s east side, will wear the historic name introduced in 1963 but unused for the past 37 years.
“One of the last decisions we made on this car was whether to call it the Stingray,” said chief engineer Tadge Juechter, indicating it was left to Ed Welburn, head of GM design to decide whether the new Corvette was worthy of the Stingray name again. “It wasn’t a question at the end.”
The 2014 Corvette is more powerful, more capable, more comfortable — and surprisingly, more fuel efficient.
It also is more curvaceous, restoring a bit of the classic Stingray look of the 1970s with a slim waist, bulging hood, raised front fender, and a fastback. Despite rumors, the new Corvette doesn’t return the famous divided rear “split window” that appeared only on the original 1963 Sting Ray coupe.
Yes, Sting Ray was two words from 1963 through 1967. It became one word 1969 through 1976. Chevrolet trademarked the Stingray name in 2010 for a potential comeback.
Paul and Diana Haack of Crystal Lake, Ill., paid $1,200 to attend Sunday night’s reveal inside the Russell Industrial Center. The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., where Corvette is built, sold 150 tickets online as a fundraiser; they were gone in 10 minutes.
More than 1,000 VIPs, media and enthusiastic Corvette fans cheered and applauded when the pounding rock music and flashing videos stopped and the covers were pulled off the car.
“I remember sitting in a brand new 1963 Corvette Sting Ray in dealers’ showroom when I was 12 years old,” said Mike Julien, a retired accountant from Grand Rapids who has owned seven Corvettes and put a deposit on a 2014 model 18 months ago.
“To the younger people, Stingray is going to be an exciting-sounding name. To those of us who have owned and loved Corvettes, this is a wonderful link to that heritage,” Julien said.
The Corvette is still a V-8 powered, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive two-seater that can match or exceed the performance of far more expensive exotic sports cars. A turbocharged V-6 engine option was considered and rejected. Although each new generation of the Corvette is introduced with basic models, engineers claim the C7 Vette will perform on a level equivalent to the previous generation’s high-performance edition Z06. It will do zero to 60 mph in under four seconds. The new body produces less drag yet more stability at high speed.
Racing-inspired air intakes and extractors are all over the car to aid engine, differential and transmission cooling. Tall, vertical extractor vents built into the outside edges of Corvette’s rear fascia give a slimming look to the car’s famously broad backside. Gone are the round tail lights, replaced by square LED lamps that align with Chevy’s designs on cars like Camaro. Even the Corvette’s crossed flags logo is updated into a stronger, bolder V-shape.
A lighter, stiffer aluminum hydroformed unibody frame resulted from lessons learned building the previous generation’s supercar versions, Z06 and ZR1. Bonded aluminum, carbon fiber and composites have replaced the old fiberglass body panels, including standard feather-light removable roof panels. There is no convertible — yet.
The Corvette has a new-generation 6.2-liter V-8 engine. It produces 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque, but also has the ability to deactivate up to four cylinders to save fuel while cruising. The Corvette comes with a seven-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The electrically adjustable suspension has multiple settings for cruising, bad weather and several levels of high performance. An optional Z51 track package will add competition grade driveline, cooling and aerodynamic enhancements.
The interior is vastly improved with dramatic new styling and special attention paid to seating comfort and performance support — a weakness in previous Corvettes. Interior materials and the latest infotainment technology have been upgraded on par with luxury-level cars.
The reveal came just four days short of the 60th anniversary of the showing of first Corvette prototype at the New York Auto Show. The new car will be on display Monday and through next week’s public run of the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center. No figures were given for fuel mileage or anticipated pricing when the car comes to dealers in the fall.