Chevrolet's Corvette legend lives on
The most sure evidence that a new Corvette is due to go in production is the cancellation of plant tours at the great American sports car's factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
This occurred last week as Chevrolet got ready to set up production and tooling for the seventh generation model.
Click photo at left for more Corvette photos.
It's expected that the C7 will debut at the 2013 Detroit show in January and the timing is perfect, as the Corvette story all began in 1953 when the first-generation models were built in fibreglass, a material chosen by designer Harley Earl for its lightness, non-rusting nature and simplicity.
The materials improved, bodies became truer and smoother and then, in 1973, came the use of a sheet-moulded composite, or SMC, which reduced the resin to fibreglass ratio and included a catalyst formed under pressure and heat.
Every Corvette since has had an SMC body, but further improvements have altered the composition so the panels are stronger, despite being thinner.
Thus recent Corvettes have become lighter, with the 1997 C5 weighing some 40kg less than the C4. The 2006 C6 started using aluminium instead of steel for its frame, cutting chassis weight by a third. Some variants employ carbon-fibre roofs and rocker panels, and standard carbon ceramic brakes.
The 2013 Z06 shows how important this concentration on weight loss is, even with just over 500hp on tap, its kerb weight of 1451kg gives a power-to-weight ratio better than more powerful, but heavier cars, like the Nissan GT-R, Porsche 911 Turbo and Aston Martin DBS.
The C7 model they're retooling for will be even lighter. As the model's executive chief engineer Tadge Juechter says: "We are constantly looking for the best materials structure, powertrain, and chassis to improve the performance".