Helen Emsley tells autos.aol.com that she was afraid of seeing the headline, “British woman kills Corvette.”
But there was no need for the GM designer who was put in charge of the dazzling makeover of the C7 Corvette’s interior to feel that way.
Some people might be surprised that GM named the British woman who had no history with the American sports car icon, but not to worry, you male fans of the Corvette, she passed the test with flying colors.
Emsley came to the Corvette world after designing interiors for GM vehicles for about 20 years, first in Europe and Australia, and then for the last 14 years in Detroit.
She believes now that her lack of a past history with Corvettes actually worked in her favor because she didn’t have pre-conceived notions about the car that’s been purchased overwhelmingly by men in the past.
If you like the 2014 Corvette Stingray interior – and polls show that it’s been a big hit so far – then you can thank Emsley for pushing for the use of real materials. That means if it looks like leather, carbon fiber, or hand stitching, then that’s exactly what it is – all the way down to the door inserts, dashboard, and steering wheel.
Emsley and her staff of 30-plus interior designers also got some hands-on experience, too, actually visiting Bowling Green to work on the Corvette production line to get a feel for how the C6 pieces fit together and talk with workers there about what they thought the new design should include. She also used input from focus groups that included owners of Corvettes and its competitors.
Emsley and her team settled on a jet fighter cockpit design that curves around the driver and makes him (or her) feel embraced by the controls and the new technology. It was also their idea to move the air conditioner controls for the passenger to a spot just above the glove compartment.
Corvette Racing’s influence is also seen in the new interior design, especially the new steering wheel that is smaller than in past generations of the ’Vette to provide more precise steering control. And of course, the new seats are deeper and more bolstered, alleviating one of the major gripes about the C6.
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[VIDEO] Interview with Craig Sass – Interior Design Manager of the C7 Corvette