You couldn’t blame Harlan Charles for pinching himself every now and then, just to make sure he’s not dreaming.
As a child, he loved reading the sports car books that his father would bring to him from Europe.
Those books were very nationalistic, Charles remembers, “so you’d always see the little flags where the cars were from, and most of the time… the only car with the American flag was the Corvette. And I always thought that was cool – that here’s the one car that the Europeans think is worthy of being a world-class sports car.”
Those books helped spur a life-long love for sports cars, and the Corvette in general, so Charles is indeed living the dream now that he’s grown up to become the Corvette product manager for Chevrolet.
These are indeed exciting times for folks like Charles and other Corvette enthusiasts, what with an amazing new C7 roaring up on the horizon.
“Bringing back the Stingray name is something we are really excited about,” Charles says on a new segment on Faces of GM. “We wanted to wait until the designing was done to see if we thought it was worthy. And when we looked at the final design, you know what, this car is worthy of being a Stingray.”
As the 2014 Corvette Stingray convertible made its debut in Europe on March 5, Charles offered his impressions of the new generation.
“Well, the initial reaction is this car’s a lot of fun to drive,” he said. “And the standard aluminum structure which is much stiffer and lighter makes the car really feel solid. It’s really an extension of your will.”
Technology also improves the new Stingray in “lots of ways,” he says.
“It improves performance, fuel economy, the whole driving experience. You know, Corvettes have always been a great numbers car – we’ve always been able to compete with the world’s best in acceleration, track times, but now we’ve improved … just the way the car feels, how fun it is to drive, the quality and materials, things like the weight of the car, putting … the aluminum frame and carbon fiber panels standard … now. It’s just exciting all the things we’ve been able to do.”
He says he has to pinch himself sometimes to think that he’s been involved with the development of only the seventh generation of Corvette over the past 60 years.
“It’s really part of history,” he says. “Everything we do is part of Corvette history, and I just think about years from now, when people think about this historic day, it’s exciting!”
Faces of GM