The Chevrolet Corvette has never been a big factor in General Motors' (NYSE:GM) bottom line from quarter to quarter. It's said to be a solidly profitable product, but it has never sold in big numbers. For nearly all of its 51-year history, GM has sold fewer Corvettes in a year than it sells pickup trucks in a month. But it's an important product for other reasons.
Ask any auto executive, and you'll learn that high-performance models help to sell other, more mainstream vehicles. They bring folks into showrooms, but they also get auto enthusiasts excited -- and those enthusiasts are the ones who friends turn to when they need advice on their next new car.
Put another way, the existence of a fire-breathing Corvette helps make the Chevy brand a little cooler, a little more in favor with the kinds of people who can help shape others' views of the brand. And Corvettes don't get more "fire-breathing" than the new Z06 model, a track-ready monster with a supercharged V8 making ("at least," GM says) 625 horsepower.
We -- the Motley Fool's John Rosevear and Rex Moore -- were on hand when GM showed off the new 2015 Corvette Z06 in Detroit back in January. That event, hosted by GM President (and Corvette enthusiast) Dan Ammann, and global product chief Mark Reuss, was a loud, rowdy party for a hot new model. GM was on an upswing at the time, with a brand-new CEO, and in the mood to celebrate a bit. Reuss affectionately referred to the new Z06 as "the Big Nasty," and it was revealed with a loud roar from its exhaust.
The recall scandal that emerged a couple of months later has darkened that mood considerably. GM's presence at the New York International Auto Show last week was much more subdued. The Chevrolet display was in a separate area, away from the main show floor, and GM didn't have a single press conference during the two days set aside for media events at the show.
That's unusual. Nearly every other automaker had something to announce at the show. GM held a couple of private events at other locations in New York the night before, but they had nothing to say at the show itself.
They still had some interesting models to show, though, including a new convertible version of the Z06. Like the Z06 Coupe; it comes with that supercharged 6.2 liter V8, with your choice of a seven-speed manual or a new eight-speed automatic transmission. And like the Z06 Coupe, we expect it to go into production around the end of this year and to start showing up at Chevy dealers in the first quarter of 2015.
GM may not have had an event for the new Z06 Convertible at the show, but they did have a handsome Laguna Blue example for us to check out. In this short video, you can join John for a close-up look, and hear his thoughts about the latest -- and arguably wildest -- new version of the Corvette for 2015.