The Corvette community was surprised to hear Thursday evening at the Petersen Automotive Museum’s Corvette Racing celebration that GM’s Performance Vehicle Line Executive Tom Wallace is retiring at the end of October. Tom served as Corvette’s Chief Engineer after Dave Hill stepped down at the end of 2005. His quick departure opens up speculation about the future of the Corvette program since we heard that the program has been put on an indefinite hold.
Tom’s three year tenure as the head of the Corvette program is the shortest ever for any of Corvette program leaders. The speculation on the street regarding his departure is either that he was unwilling to commit to pushing back the C7 Corvette launch schedule to 2014 or beyond, or with the launch of the Corvette ZR1, the only “new” model launched during his tenure, now seemed to be the best time to take a buyout and make an exit as GM faces one of the most difficult periods in its 100 year history.
As of Saturday, there has been no official word about Wallace’s retirement from General Motors.
Whatever the reasons, we liked Tom and felt that his racing DNA were ideal for leading Corvette into the next generation. We do know that Corvette will be in good hands with the likes of Tadge Juechter and others leading the next generation Corvette program. Our fear is less about GM cutting the Corvette program and more about GM’s financial viability as a company over the next year.