DETROIT – General Motors Corp. announced today that David Hill, currently vehicle chief engineer (VCE) of the Chevrolet Corvette and vehicle line executive (VLE) of performance cars, will retire effective Jan. 1, 2006 after more than 41 years of dedicated service. Tom Wallace will replace Hill as vehicle line executive of performance cars and vehicle chief engineer of the Corvette. Additionally, he will assume responsibilities for compact rear-wheel-drive performance cars including Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. Wallace currently is VLE of small and midsize trucks. Lori Queen, currently VLE of compact cars and the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, is appointed VLE of small and midsize trucks, replacing Tom Wallace. The North America compact car team will now report to Peter Mertens, vehicle line executive of global compact cars. Mertens is currently leading the Global Compact Car Development Team located in Germany. “Dave Hill has taken the Corvette to heights that few of us can imagine. In terms of performance, refinement and value, he has truly helped to make Corvette second to none. He is a true car guy who will take his rightful place among the legends of Corvette lore,” said Bob Lutz, General Motors vice chairman, global product development. “What do you do to replace a guy like Dave? You do your best to get another one. Tom Wallace also is a car guy and racer who will make a perfect choice to lead the Corvette and Performance team. Besides, Tom was Dave’s choice too. That should tell you all you need to know,” Lutz concluded. Hill has a rich history with GM since joining Cadillac Motor Car Division in 1964. He moved through various engineering positions and was named an executive in 1979. In 1982, he was named chief engineer of the Cadillac Allante. Following the introduction of the Northstar engine in 1992 in the two seat luxury roadster, Hill assumed chief engineer responsibilities for the Cadillac Deville and Concours. Hill was named chief engineer of the Chevrolet Corvette in 1993, only the third chief engineer for the sports car in the vehicle’s 53-year history. In 1995, Hill was named vehicle line executive of performance cars and led the development of the fifth-generation Corvette and the introduction of the Cadillac XLR. Last year, Hill launched the sixth-generation Corvette followed by the introduction of the new 505 bhp Corvette Z06 for 2006. Hill holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan. Wallace has been with GM since 1966 when he joined Buick Motor Division in Flint, Mich. He was named to an executive engineering position in 1980 while still with Buick and was later named to the GM Truck Group in 1995. Wallace holds a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Kettering University (formerly GMI), and was a Sloan Fellow, earning a master’s in business administration from Stanford University. Wallace and his team were responsible for the development and launch of Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Chevrolet SSR. Additionally, he led the highly successful launch of the Saab 9-7X and the HUMMER H3. An avid performance car enthusiast, Wallace has enjoyed competing in both amateur and professional road racing, rally car and drag racing. He started racing with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) more than 30 years ago and has raced in a variety of Sedan and GT classes with race-prepped Oldsmobile, Buick and Chevrolet models. Queen received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Kettering University (formerly GMI). She recently led the launches of some of GM’s most successful products currently in the market: Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR, Saturn ION, the Pontiac Solstice and the soon to be released Saturn Sky. Queen has been with GM since 1974 and has held numerous Engineering positions, including vehicle chief and VLE assignments for both cars and trucks.
Vettes in the News
Wow. It’s about all I can say after reading MPH Magazine’s Z06 Corvette review. Let’s say Chevy gave you the keys to the new Corvette Z06 for just one day. Do you put it on a skid pad or try to determine the lateral G’s? MPH writer Eddie Alterman did something much better – and probably much closer to what most of us would do if we could drive this car for just one night. “I am sitting at a stoplight on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue, checking the rearview mirror of this black Corvette Z06 for pork. To my right is a white 2004 Dodge Viper, and its owner’s only visible part, his head, is engulfed in a penumbra of cologne, hair products and ego. He is a douchebag. And he has no concept of the sorry fate about to befall him.” Stoplight kung fu… Eddie’s hunt continues for four hours. He racks up the kills: Chevelles, Hemis, Camaros, Vipers, NSXs and a ’67 Shelby GT. Pure automotive stealth as he puts it. Hunting the hunters. And while Eddie finally meets his match in the form of a 600 hp and 625 hp Nitrous-breathing Cobra and Firebird, he comes to the realization that the Z06 is no ordinary sportscar, transforming him from mild-mannered magazine editor to Zeus. Eddie, thanks for the ride!
We alluded to this here that with all the pre-sales testing, press junkets and favorable magazine reviews, the Corvette was setting itself up for a nice sales increase in Europe. GM annouced that sales of Corvettes had topped 1,000 units so far, more than triple what was sold in Europe all last year. GM’s overall unit sales rose 5.7% in September and are up 1.7% over last year’s sales totals thanks to new products like the Opel/Vauxhall Zafira minivan and the Chevrolet Matiz small car. With three months to go and the new Z06 officially making its presence known to European car owners, Corvette will be in a position to strongly increase its market share in 2006 and beyond. Full Story at Reuters News Service
GM is recalling 123,592 vehicles, including the 2005 and 2006 Chevrolet Corvette, for a range of defects reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The recall is due to potential power steering problems that could lead to engine fires. NHTSA reports that under extreme steering conditions the power steering hose may break and leak fluid. Power steering fluid could then spray onto hot engine parts and an engine compartment fire could occur. GM is recalling the Chevrolet Corvette, TrailBlazer, Tahoe, Express and Silverado, Buick Rainer, Cadillac Escalade, GMC Envoy, Savana, Sierra and Yukon, Hummer H2 and Isuzu Ascender. All the vehicles are from the 2006 model year, according to NHTSA. The Corvette, Silverado and Sierra models from the 2005 model year are also being recalled.
Automobile Magazine, which named the 2001 Corvette Z06 the Automobile of the Year, takes the new 2006 Z06 on a tour of Europe. And while the review is mostly in the same vain as the other auto magazines in that the new Z06 has reached supercar status and is a bargain compared to others, there is some GM news that I had not heard before. Those of us following productions numbers have mused what the total Z06 production will be. The review asserts that “the Chevrolet folks are so confident that the C6 will successfully engage the European Union, they’ve boosted employment on the line at Bowling Green, Kentucky, to build as many as 3000 extra Corvettes a year, a 10 percent hike”. Well, the EU expansion makes perfect sense for a world-class sports car. The European press junkets that Chevy has hosted during the last few months have hopefully given the Z06 much needed exposure in a market that has never openly embraced the Corvette. While the review is mostly favorable in the “oh my god, this car is fast” fashion, there are the same criticisms that have been mentioned before: sub par interior and a noisy 6-Speed. All in all, Automobile Magazine does the Corvette Z06 justice and is a must read for aficionados. Oh, they got some nice wallpapers too!
Legendary Corvette tuner Lingenfelter Performance Engineering is celebrating their 25th anniversary and to commemorate this occasion, they have announced a limited production run of 25 427 CID LS2 Twin Turbo Commemorative Corvettes. The Lingenfelter package includes the 725 horsepower 427 CID C5R engine with the new GEN-2 twin intercooled twin turbo package, Lingenfelter C6 Corvette exhaust system by Corsa Performance, Custom Caravaggio conelly leather seats, console cover, shifter knob/boot, e-brake knob/boot, steering wheel a and unique body enhancements including Lingenfelter C6 hood, Lingenfelter front spoiler, Lingenfelter side skirts and unique one piece rear fascia with Lingenfelter logo embossed (the embossed logo is only available on this special edition car). The 2005-2006 Commemorative Edition Corvette package costs just a mere $86,995 – which doesn’t include the base Z51 Corvette. Once all 25 are sold no further orders will be accepted for this very special limited edition Corvette. Specifications subject to change without notice depending on availability of parts or design changes. This package is for off road use only and is not represented to be emissions legal for public highways. Click here to learn more.
duPont Registry names list of Best Exotic Cars. Most cost six figures. One costs seven figures, but the Corvette Z06, at $65,800 is named “Best Bang for the Buck”. You know you are in good company with names like Bugatti, Lamborghini and Bentley. Now add Chevy to the list. At $65,800 the Corvette Z06 seems out of place next to these other makes costing several times its price. But when you look at the numbers: 505 hp, zero to 60 under 4 seconds – the Z06 is right at home. While the Corvette is the least expensive car to make the list of Best Exotics, the most expensive (and probably most exotic) is the Bugatti Veyron. The 1,001 horsepower zero-60 time of 2.4 seconds costs $1.2 million. Other cars to make the list include the BMW M6 and the Rolls Royce Phantom. Click here for the article at CNN.com
The first production year for the C6 officially came to a close on September 8, when the last 2005 Corvette came off the end of the assembly line. A total of 37,372 cars were built during the model year, with no ZO6 production. Coupes proved to be more popular than ever with 72 percent of total production and convertibles taking the remaining 28 percent. The most popular exterior color was Black (21.4 percent), followed by Light Tarnish Silver (18.4 percent), Victory Red (15 percent), Luxo Blue (10.1 percent), Magnetic Red (9.1 percent), Sunset Orange (8 percent), Millennium Yellow (5.4 percent), White (5.3 percent), Precision Red (3.5 percent), Velocity Yellow (2 percent) and Red Jewel (1.9 percent). Most convertible customers opted for the black top (86 percent), with only 11.3 percent choosing beige followed by 2.7 percent who chose gray. Interior color options are as follows: Ebony 60.9 percent, Light Cashmere 24.5 percent, Steel Gray 10 percent, and Cobalt Red 4.6 percent. Once again proving most popular, automatic transmissions accounted for 60 percent of the cars. Six-speed manual transmissions accounted for 17 percent, while 23 percent opted for the six-speed with the Z51 option. Export cars, other than Canada and Mexico, totaled 4.7 percent. Other popular options included: Memory Package (92 percent), Passenger and Driver Reclining Bucket Seats (98.4 percent), Telescoping Steering Wheel (87.3 percent), Polished Aluminum Wheels (72.5 percent), OnStar (52.5 percent), Heads Up Display (92 percent), and XM Satellite Radio (58.6 percent).
Autoweek hits the newstands this week with their review of the 2006 Z06 Corvette. As their title suggests, “Chevrolet’s Corvette Z06 enters the supercar segment – and changes the game.” The review starts with an incredible play-by-play (shift-by-shift?) of the Z06 running at the famed Spa-Francorchamps, a 4.3 mile road race course in Belgium: “An atomic forward rush presses flesh and bone into the seat, interrupted only when the brain protests the car cannot possibly enter the approaching bend this fast, even though Chevy claims the Z06 will maintain a 1.04 g lateral load during steady-state cornering…But time and again the Z06 proves it can.” “The Z06′s $65,800 base price marks it as the greatest value in supercar history, and the performance means those poster-buying kids should now lust after a Corvette, value or not. ” While there is some lamenting of the lack of refinement for the interior, we are entertained with the quote by Corvette’s Chief Engineer Dave Hill who says the development team did not think the Z06 needed an interior upgrade, given the car “would come in substantially less expensive than the Viper but with substantially more performance and refinement.” He acknowledges that “may not have been the right thinking, but we didnâ€™t want to get the car too pricey.” Click here to read the entire Autoweek Review.
General Motors will be matching contributions by their employees who donate to the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz made the statement on the GM FastLane Blog yesterday. For non-GM employees, there is a list of the links to other relief organizations. Thanks you GM, Bob Lutz, and GM Employees for supporting our fellow Americans in this time of need.