Corvette's New Stingray Convertible Could Revolutionize General Motors

With the top up, the 2014 Corvette Stingray convertible is designed for a refined driving experience. A thick, three-ply fabric top, along with sound-absorbing padding and a glass rear window, contributes to a quiet cabin and premium appearance. © General Motors.  

If you know a fair amount about cars, you've probably aware that one of the big problems with convertibles is the reduction in performance, compared with coupes. Yes, you get to experience the wind blowing through your hair and the roar of the engine, but that comes with a price -- specifically, a loss of structural rigidity and increased weight.

However, in the latest iteration of the Corvette Stingray convertible, General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) tackled this problem head-on. And the result could help revolutionize General Motors' brand.

A convertible that handles like a coupe
There are exceptions, but more often than not, a convertible is designed after its coupe sibling. Consequently, installing the hydraulics for the convertible top adds weight, and removing the top negatively affects structural rigidity -- this often results in what's known as scuttle, or cowl, shake, which is where the chassis flexes, causing a noticeable vibration. In other words, if you're looking for performance, convertibles aren't the way to go.

The all-new, seventh-generation 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Photo: General Motors.

However, according to Motor Authority, when General Motors design director Tom Peters first planned the new Corvette Stingray, he designed it as an open-top car. As a result, removing the top doesn't negatively affect the car's structural integrity. More importantly, when Motor Authority test-drove the Corvette Stingray convertible, it said, "there's really no shudder, no recognizable difference between the latest C7 Corvette, whether you go for it in Coupe or Convertible form."

Further, Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter, told Yahoo! Autos that the C7 Corvette convertible is 40% more rigid than the C6. Not willing to take that claim at face value, Yahoo! Autos' author Alex Lloyd, put it to the test: "Juechter let us drive his machine for hours on some truly magnificent mountain roads to verify his lofty claim." Lloyd concluded: "I can officially declare that Tadge Juechter is not a liar: During aggressive driving on twisty roads, it feels identical -- despite the convertible being 60-lbs. heavier due to its retractable roof." 

What this means is the Corvette convertible handles like a coupe, and for gear-heads, this is no small thing.

Rigidity and sales
It's no secret that General Motors' reputation has taken a beating. Indeed, critics still like to call it Government Motors, in reference to the auto manufacturer's government bailout. Further, the Corvette has failed to attract younger buyers. In fact, Strategic Vision found the average age of a Corvette owner is 61, according to Yahoo! Finance.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible interior. Photo: General Motors.

To combat this, and actively lure younger buyers, General Motors did a number of things. First, it dropped the Corvette's price: The 2014 Corvette Stingray has a starting MSRP of $51,000, while the Convertible has a staring MSRP of $56,000. Second, General Motors gave the Corvette more aggressive styling, and redid the interior -- a constant criticism of Corvettes. And third, the new Corvette's frame is made out of aluminum, which reduces weight. Plus, with 460 horsepower, and 465 pound-feet of torque, the base Stingray can go 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds. According to General Motors, that makes the new base Corvette the "quickest, most powerful, most capable standard Corvette ever made."

Moreover, these changes seem to be paying off, as in November, General Motors reported that 2014 Corvette sales surged 128.89% compared with the same time last year.

But will it attract younger buyers?
This is all well and good, but the real question remains: "Will the new Corvette attract younger buyers?" The answer to that question will come in time, but from personal experience I can tell you my husband -- who's 31 -- called the new Corvette the "most beautiful Corvette" he's ever seen. Further, his coworker is planning on buying the new Corvette Stingray convertible, and he's in his late 40s.

However, arguably one of the most impressive things about the new Corvette, and that could help revolutionize General Motors' brand, is the fact that the convertible handles like a coupe. There are very few convertibles that can make this claim -- one of the only ones that can is the McLaren 12C Spider. As such, General Motors making this claim is no small thing, and considering General Motors' image has taken a beating, anything that can help turn that around is potentially great news for investors. Consequently, this is something to watch.

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  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 3:51 PM, gbman1 wrote:

    They really screw up this new Corvette with 2nd Class Camaro Tailights. The round taillights was a Corvette trademark. I bet someone is manufacturing round replacement taillights to replace the Camaro Lights.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 4:39 PM, tabese1000 wrote:

    gottta be a blast to drive, wish gm the best

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 5:00 PM, Red370z wrote:

    the old c4 zr1 had square tail lights and was ground breaking 2. I feel like those tail lights were ment for the corvette to start with but they grew tierd of waiting for the c7 to use them on and slapped them on the camaro first.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 5:07 PM, dtlgolf1 wrote:

    Yeah, gbman1, you need to get over it. round tailights would have looked horrible with this car because they werent near aggressive enough, And yes, the c4 zr1 had round tailights

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 5:11 PM, Charos wrote:

    Looks like a pretty nice car to me. Something like a Ferrari. And for $50.000 you can't beat that. Buy American.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 5:12 PM, smartfone wrote:

    no thanks

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 6:09 PM, JFS wrote:

    The new vette has some nice features, but GM, in trying to make a car that appeals to everyone, made a car that appeals to no one. Vette buyers are a very selective breed. Think engine, transmission, suspension and simplicity, all designed for maximum speed and handling. The new car is too sophisticated and different for vette buyers. The reason the average buying age is 61 is price. People don't pay $50K for their first car. Nor does anyone buy a vette for their primvary vehicle. Younger buyers buy a used vette and drive it until they can afford a new one. Vette buyers don't want an array of head lights or tail lights. One bulb is enough. Vette buyers don't want digital gauges. We like analog gauges. Vette buyers don't want a car that cuts out four cylinders. We expect eight cylinders all the time. We don't want the extra weight or headache of having to pay to fix something that we didn't want to begin with. We could care less about the people catchers on the front bumper to meet European standards. Vette's werent designed for anything but American buyers. The heck with catering to foreigners. Since it was designed to be a convertible, then why add an extra inch to the roof line to accommodate a racing helmet. Make two roofs, one for racers and one with a lower roof line for those of us who won't be wearing a racing helmet in the car. This one has a lot of new innovations, but very few of them are wanted by vette buyers. Not only would I not buy one, I would not take one as a gift if it were given to me because the only thing on it that makes it a vette is the name plate. Otherwise, it might as well be a European car. It's not American anymore.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 6:18 PM, imDanielle2 wrote:

    GM brought one out to our school auto lab/shop and they let us drive it around campus .. This thing is freaking awesome and there wasn't an instructor or student who had anything bad to say about it..

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 8:35 PM, dberry8953 wrote:

    The last GM product we owned, a 2006...had the trans go Kablooey! @ 47000 miles. Maintenance free transmission, never abused. GM said tough luck. We paid to have it fixed, drove it awhile, then traded it in. No more GM for us. Corvette can be the best car on the planet, they can sell it (and their defective transmissions) to someone else.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 8:43 PM, Bubbucci wrote:

    For those of you on here who think the latest 'Vette is going to fail.....think again! It's likely those who think it will fail are the older generation folk who are long time followers. No disrespect meant but things must evolve and it's time for this vehicle to do just that. I'm one of many who hasn't been interested in the 'vette for years, probably since the early 70's. This one, well it caught my eye and nearly caused me to sprain my neck the first time I saw it! The taillights were a brilliant addition even though they were borrowed from the Camaro (which has since been ruined with their recent taillights). I think it's just a matter of taste, and this car has created quite a stir among many of us who never would have considered buying one before. The price tag is much more manageable then prior models so I think you'll see a whole new generation of fans. Don't worry though, there will be a lot of used vette's out there for you to purchase and marvel once GM catches up on production of these babies!

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 6:07 AM, BurtsDog wrote:

    As cool as this car looks, people are moving away from impractical high ticket items and moving toward more practical items. This is why 4-door trucks are selling like hotcakes. Where once a pedestrian would 'oooh' and 'awwwe' over a passing Ferrari, nowadays they are much more likely to think the driver is a wasteful, irresponsible jerk. That won't stop me from buying a Lamborghini if I make a couple million, but it will stop my from buying a 2-seat sports car if I do not.

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 7:19 AM, tonybudz wrote:

    I think the market for these kinds of demon speed cars might fall one day. How many designs can they make before they all just look alike.

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 7:38 AM, tgaglione wrote:

    I can't see the new Corvette doing anything more for Chevy than previous models such as the Zo6 and Zr1 have done. Fantastic sports cars, but they are in a pretty narrow niche market (double the average car price, a two-seater, very high insurance). I'm not bashing it. Having a 'best selling' compact, or mid-sized sedan (a much, much larger market) is what puts a car company at the top in terms of sales, profitability and thus ultimately success. In my opinion, they could do achieve this better if they brought back the Cavalier Z24 model. Cool, and affordable to the masses.

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 8:32 AM, roadslide wrote:

    yes the vett is the hummer of sport cars... folks tend to look down on the owners as wasteful showoffs... tho the performance numbers are great... I think the average age will remain high as the dream of owning a vett is something retirees won't give up...

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 10:17 AM, birdman8421 wrote:

    A C7 is in my future as well as my son and best friend who all currently drive Vettes. As much as I demeaned "plastic cars" in the past, until I owned one,(a '03 C5 used), I thought my Z28 and Trans Am were so close in performance, that I didn't need one. I was wrong. Our current C6 with 184,000 trouble free miles, was a quantum leap with an additional 100 hp gain over the C5. The radical new look and technology included is a big boost to my desire for the C7. At 68, this will be my final Vette most likely but, they might have to bury me in it to keep me happy. Oh wait, I'm going to be cremated so they might just carry me around in the ashtray. I can appreciate that.

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 10:56 AM, PsiKick wrote:

    The C6 was always essentially a convertible, it has a removable top so it was already more rigid.

    I think you will find that gearheads like protection over their heads if they are the type that actually drive the car near what it's capable of. It's mostly women that like convertibles. I've only taken the top off my C6 a few times and it isn't worth the compromises. It squeaks and the window has to drop to open or close the door, stupid design.

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 5:14 PM, johnestromjr wrote:

    There are MANY cars produced in both coupe and convertible and most of the convertibles are as rigid as the coupe. Especially those with retractable hardtops like the BMW Z4. I'm guessing the Audi R8 drop top is as well and it's a cloth top. It would seem only American cars have troubles with chassis rigidity when removing the top. Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from the Japanese and Europeans who seem to be WAY ahead of Ford, GM and Chrysler

  • Report this Comment On December 26, 2013, at 5:15 PM, bretco wrote:

    After owning 5 Vettes I gave them up for Mercedes SL 500's and never looked back.

    The new C-7 has caused me to reconsider

    buying American again.

    After reading 4 reviews of the C-7 I say get over the Camaro taillights, they are a mere annoyance

    that is compensated for with performance.

  • Report this Comment On December 26, 2013, at 5:22 PM, oilman1 wrote:

    Well JFS above wrote that four of the cylinders cut out, Government Motors did that years back with a Cadillac that they call it the 4-6-8 engine, which would eventually cut down to 6, then down to 4 cylinders. That turned out to be the biggest abortion they ever came out with, because they could never get it right and became more trouble than it was worth, so they dropped it fast.

    But at 56,000 for a convertible, that is getting to much for the average buyer to afford in this day of part time jobs now. Government Motors is trying to screw the people on this one. Many people do call it Government Motors for a good reason, they screwed the American people out of 10 Billion dollars on that deal, just like they have the employees, they owe the employees retirement fund more money than GM is worth today.

  • Report this Comment On December 26, 2013, at 5:56 PM, Sleezyryd wrote:

    I have a C6 which I like very much, There are several misleading claims in this article. 1st that they lowered the price to attract younger buyers. No they did not, base price up a bit.

    2nd, that the aluminum frame saves weight. But this C7 is heavier than previous base model, and heavier than my '07 C6 base model.

    3rd that it will get better gas mileage. Based on tests that I have read, real world mileage is not as good as my 6 spd manual. I get 24.5 MPG driving around town as a realtor showing client houses. at 70 MPH on a level road in 6th gear, I see 33 MPG on the instantaneous mileage indicator.

    But C7 will will likely find a home in my garage anyway, it is a great looking car, and allegedly handles much better. Yes interior is better, my wife cares more about that than I do. I can confirm that the seats are improved, looking forward to a long term test.

    I don't think they are going to sell a lot of these to younger buyers, they are just not on the radar of most buyers who have $35k to spend, but that is not going to stop me.

  • Report this Comment On December 26, 2013, at 6:26 PM, smithy007 wrote:

    Sleezyryd actually if you look at what Chevy’s said about the Corvette, you’ll find that the above is exactly right. When it went into the design process it pulled out all the stops to actively get younger buyers. By using an aluminum frame it cut down on weight compared to steel, and even though they used aluminum, Chevy kept the price "low.” All of this was done on purpose for the stated reason of getting younger buyers. I didn’t see anything in the article about mpg, so I think you might have misread that. I’m not a Corvette man myself, but if I was, the C7 would make it to my garage. It’s beautiful.

  • Report this Comment On December 26, 2013, at 7:28 PM, RazorShark wrote:

    Great Article, great interior improvements. Like the body changes and with a few tweaks to the engine, even more horses. American Horse Power, my favorite.

  • Report this Comment On December 26, 2013, at 11:13 PM, raysviewtwo wrote:

    Having owned 2 corvettes and recently having the opportunity to drive a C7, GM will sell as many of these as they care to build. Forget the picky comments and the naysayers - the C7 is an incredible car, and with a base price in the 50's an even more incredible bargain. The taillights bug some purists, but they'll get over it - you can't see them from the driver's seat anyway.

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2013, at 12:18 AM, FastC7 wrote:

    Just hit 1,500 miles on my new Stingray. What a remarkable car. This is my 3rd Corvette. Had a C5 a C6 and now the C7.

    It's beautiful, comfortable, handles much better than my earlier Vettes and it's FAST! Unbelievable acceleration! Slips through high speed corners without any tie squeal.

    And did I say it's FAST?

    I'm not the target "young" buyer. I'm a 69 year old "kid" who gets out of this car with a huge smile every time I drive it.

    Tail lights? They look good to me and I don't really care what the driver of the car I've left behind thinks about my tail lights.

    And did I say it's FAST?

    :-)

    The C7 is a really great car.

    I Also acted like a Fool today and bought stock in GM for my account.

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2013, at 12:26 AM, Sleezyryd wrote:

    Smithy007, Corvette says on their web site that a 2013 base Corvette cost $50,595, and the new one is $51,995, so its not cheaper. It is longer in overall length and 2013 curb weight 3208 vs 2014 3460 lbs at tested by Road and Track Mag, quite a bit heavier despite aluminum frame.

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2013, at 1:37 AM, smithy007 wrote:

    Sleezyryd sorry but you’re wrong. I’m not sure where you’re getting your info but caranddriver, edmunds, motorauthority, etc., all put the C7 at a mere 90lbs heavier than the C6. And considering all the areas where Chevy added weight, that’s a major achievement:

    35.2 pounds — direct injection, VVT, AFM

    6.6 pounds — standard engine oil cooler

    13.2 pounds — dual mass clutch

    15.4 pounds — steel torque tube part of AFM

    5.5 pounds — AFM exhaust valves

    11 pounds — 7th transmission speed

    18.5 pounds — strengthened differential, half shafts

    18.3 pounds — larger fixed brakes

    17 pounds — new interior appointments and safety features

    17.2 pounds — upgraded seats

    18.5 pounds — structural safety requirements

    31.5 pounds — new infotainment and cabin technology, as well as relocating battery to the rear

    3 pounds — bigger fuel tank

    All of the above add to a significant weight gain. EXCEPT as the author pointed out, Chevy used aluminum to reduce weight. Second, the same could be said with price. The C7 is the most technologically advanced Corvette, EVER. But it doesn’t have a price to match. Why? Because as CHEVY ITSELF STATED they’re actively trying to attract younger buyers and they did this by lowering the price (from what it was expected to be), and reducing the weight by using aluminum.

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2013, at 5:01 PM, bassslayer61 wrote:

    always went with the "buy american" until i had a similar experience like dberrry8953. My son's 07 impala and the heating issues(which have numerous sights and blogs about.) GM's customer service is horrible, horrible, horrible and i would bet there are others who'd agree. No matter how appealing the corvette is , I'd never give GM another dime.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 12:01 AM, nolasue wrote:

    Is it made in China like the future Cadillacs? How much gas does it guzzle? Could be really innovative and let it get great gas mileage, but better start with the guzzling Sierras first

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 12:11 AM, nolasue wrote:

    When are truck/car manufacturers and people going to take the Earths warming seriously instead of getting into their desire to impress someone leaving dust in someone's wake. How much power do you need to tote around 4 people and a dog in a big heavy pickup truck(which is the usual "fully loaded version" of a pickup or a single driver with nothing in the bed driving around)?!!

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2014, at 4:09 PM, VieuxCarre wrote:

    My daily driver (Coupe). Every day a smile. Most people just commute to work, I drive.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 3:49 PM, C7FAN wrote:

    I never seriously considered owning a Corvette until I saw the C7. I couldn't take my eyes off it's spectacular styling. The more I checked into it the more interested I became. I have the convertible in Laguna Blue with Kalahari top and interior. The performance exceeds expectations. The interior is as nicely finished as the exterior. It's technology is amazing. The base price is a bit misleading, however. Once you add in the extras that make the car a true sports car like performance exhaust, selective magnetic ride and Z51 performance package you are well into the $60's, then 5K more if you want the convertible. To me it was an easy decision, and well worth it. It sure beats looking at your retirement account go up and down everyday.

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