This feature is a part of Complex's Corvette Week.
As the world’s longest-running continuously produced sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette is America’s flagship ride. For 60 years, and through seven generations, it has embodied the finest in American automotive engineering and technology—from fiberglass in 1953 to carbon fiber in 2013. When the first Vette was introduced, legendary GM styling director Harley Earl insisted that an American car could compete in the European-dominated sports car market. That couldn’t be more true today.
The second-generation Corvette, launched in 1963, was modeled on—and named after—a concept race car, the Sting Ray (Stingray became one word in 1968). The ’63 Vette is revered as one of the most beautiful designs in automotive history. “One of the reasons I’m in the business is the ’63 Sting Ray,” says Tom Peters, Corvette’s director of exterior design. “There is magic about it. It’s timeless.”The spirit of the ’63, with its radical split rear window, is in the DNA of the new Vette, the C7, which was revealed at the North American International Auto Show on January 13, 2013. It’s the first Corvette to take the Stingray name since 1978. The C7 follows the tradition of pushing boundaries while maintaining aesthetic continuity with its forebears. For his groundbreaking creation, Peters recalled the automobile that sparked his imagination as a third grader: “There’s music in that car. There’s race cars, and there’s fighter jets. You combine them in a new way and you get the C7."
Like the ’63 Vette that inaugurated the Stingray name, the C7—thanks in part to the all-new LT1 engine—truly advances the legendary franchise. Peters notes that fighter jets were his most consistent performance vehicle design influence. That idea is apparent in the interior, too, where the aim was simple. “We wanted a cockpit feel,” says Helen Emsely, director of interior design, “so that when you sit in the car, the interior wraps around you.” The final interior is a result of a unique collaboration between the Corvette team and the factory workers who will actually produce the car at GM’s Bowling Green, KY plant—insurance that the initial idea is carried out to perfection.
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will hit dealers in early fall. Drivers, you’re cleared for takeoff.