Chevrolet's Corvette legend lives on

01:11, Oct 01 2012
Stingray concept car, "Sideswipe" from the Transformers movie, outside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
Stingray concept car, "Sideswipe" from the Transformers movie, outside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
A display inside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
A display inside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
A display inside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
A display inside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
A display inside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
A display inside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
A display inside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
A display inside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
A display inside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
A display inside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
The 1.5 millionth Corvette outside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
The 1.5 millionth Corvette outside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
A beautiful early-70’s Stingray in the parking lot outside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
A beautiful early-70’s Stingray in the parking lot outside the US National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.
Every five years, Corvettes from across the US join together to make the pilgrimage to the National Corvette Museum in what is called the largest moving automotive event in the country.
Every five years, Corvettes from across the US join together to make the pilgrimage to the National Corvette Museum in what is called the largest moving automotive event in the country.
This rare 1953 Corvette, parked outside the US National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was one of the first 300 made.
This rare 1953 Corvette, parked outside the US National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was one of the first 300 made.
A 2010 Grand Sport Corvette takes off from the US National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
A 2010 Grand Sport Corvette takes off from the US National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
This 2010 Grand Sport Corvette catches some rays beneath the skydome spire at the world-famous US National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
This 2010 Grand Sport Corvette catches some rays beneath the skydome spire at the world-famous US National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
An exhibition called the "The World's Only Threes" outside the US National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, features Corvettes from 1953, 1963, 1973, 1993, 2003 and the only 1983 in existence.
An exhibition called the "The World's Only Threes" outside the US National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, features Corvettes from 1953, 1963, 1973, 1993, 2003 and the only 1983 in existence.
When customers order a Corvette from a dealer, they can choose to take delivery of it at the US National Corvette Museum. While in Bowling Green, Kentucky, they are often treated to a tour of the assembly plant and might get the opportunity to be the first person to start a brand new Corvette!
When customers order a Corvette from a dealer, they can choose to take delivery of it at the US National Corvette Museum. While in Bowling Green, Kentucky, they are often treated to a tour of the assembly plant and might get the opportunity to be the first person to start a brand new Corvette!

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.

A rare 1953 Corvette (left) alongside a 2013 Corvette convertible collector's edition.
VETTED: A rare 1953 Corvette (left) alongside a 2013 Corvette convertible collector's edition.

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".

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