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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chevrolet Re-Inventing The Corvette With The C-7 To Lure Younger Buyers

By Miguel Caparros GM file Photos
In a bold move Chevrolet is opening up a Pandora's box by announcing a new power plant package to debut with the upcoming C-7.  Not wanting to shun the Corvette faithful, Initially the current engine line up will be continued. With the General looking at the future, a reality has set in. The younger well heeled customers are buying tons of Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Infinity, Ferrari and Corvette's.
The big difference in this group is the age of the Corvette buyer. An on line survey that has been running on the Corvette Action Center Forum, polled C-6 owners. According to the Survey 22% of the participants are over 60 years old. In a more telling number the 50 to 59 age group represents a whopping 40%. To put it in perspective, 62% of the respondents to this survey qualify to carry an AARP card. 
The new V8 engine is rumored to be a 3.2 liter 4 cam Turbo Charged 10,000 rpm motor with 125 horsepower per liter. My math tells me that is 400 hp. That is a long ways off the ground ripping C-6 7 liter 505 HP and another galaxy removed from the 6.2 liter 638 hp ZR1. So is the Corvette group going to get any cross over from Porsche 911 buyers who are a little younger with an average age of 50 or from BMW M3 owners who's average drivers age is a lot younger at 38. Not with 400 horsepower, if you want to play in this league, it is a power to weight ratio game. Unless the Corvette engineers are dropping 350 pounds of weight from the C6, the new car is going to need 500 hp to compete with the 911.
There are many photos of concepts for the C7 including the split window retro mix from the 63 Sting Ray and the Coke shape of the Maco Shark concept of the 60's. Can Corvette make inroads into the younger import market with a low-cal version of Americas Super Car? They are apparently selling a lot of V6 Camaro's so maybe there is a market for it. But personally I think such a move would weaken the status of the brand. The current car is one that can take on any of the worlds super car and if not beat them all on absolute performance it definitely beats them all in usability and daily comfort. 
Sometimes, we need to go outside and look at what the end users are doing and take some clues from what they are building.
The GM LS family of engines are extremely successful in the after-market, They are transplanted into every kind of car. One of the more popular conversions is into the Pontiac Solstice Saturn Twins. Except for a few crude homebuilt the quality of most that I have seen are outstanding. These enthusiast are not doing this with old crashed cars but very nice used cars that are holding their value, then they drop another $7,000 to $10,000 for the V8 conversion. The end result is an investment of $20,000 to $30,000 for a very good performing sports car
I think GM threw out the baby with the bath water when they retired the Solstice concept. With some parts bin engineering, the new 400 hp V8, I would name it the Chevrolet Corsa, equip it to a $50,000 price tag and evolve the Corvette with more sophistication and keep it the world car it is. Corvette fans and owners don't care about gas millage or 4 cam motors They just want a mean looking car that will go 200 mph.

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