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GM Cutbacks Extend to Corvette Program

by Keith Cornett on July 28, 2008

Gary ClaudioLast week GM CEO Rick Wagoneer announced an ambitious plan to cut costs across the board and we are now hearing the cuts will impact two members of the Corvette team. Gary Claudio, Corvette’s current marketing manager and dealer liaison is being moved to a position at Chevrolet Racing. The marketing manager duties will be shifted to Corvette Product Manager Harlan Charles.

Thanks Gary for your service to Corvette and good luck with your future endeavors.

We’ll continue to watch the goings-on at GM and will bring you news as it impacts Corvette.


Related:
Video: Chevrolet’s Harlan Charles Shows Off the Corvette ZR1 Technorati Tags:
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Specter Werkes Unveils New C6 Corvette GTR

by Keith Cornett on July 26, 2008

Specter Werks C6 Corvette GTR

Our friends at Jalopnik were lucky to attend Thursday’s unveiling of the new Specter Werks C6 Corvette GTR. The new GTR is a $35,000 upgrade that takes a stock Corvette and completely reworks the body. The GTR shares only the roof, rear hatch and glass with a stock C6 Corvette. The exotic looking panels expand width by 4-and-a-half inches and the results are simply bad ass in our opinion!

The Specter Werks C6 Corvette GTR is more than just a rebody. The GTR shown here is powered by Specter’s Matrix II LS3 stroker engine. Displacement is boosted from 6.2 liters to a 6.8 liter 416 ci V8, delivering 535 horsepower and 530 lb-ft of torque. Keeping all that power on the road are Michelin Pilot Sport 2s, with 19 inch Foregline VR3P wheels in the front and 20 inch versions in the rear. StopTech brakes featuring 6-piston calipers and 15-inch slotted rotors in the front and 4-piston calipers and 14-inch slotted rotors in the rear provide plenty of stopping power. Specter Werks Corvette GTR’s are available with a variety of high-performance powertrain options available for additional cost.

Specter Werks C6 Corvette GTR Specter Werks C6 Corvette GTR Specter Werks C6 Corvette GTR

In attendance at the GTR reveal were several members of the GM’s Corvette team who complimented the car on its design and Specter Werk’s attention to details. Make sure you visit Jalopnik for the the press release and 18 photos from the event.


Source:
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2008 Allstate 400 Corvette Z06 Pace Car

The 15th running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is Sunday and the Corvette Z06 was selected for the 4th consecutive year. This year’s Allstate 400 Pace Car Corvette features a design that can only be described as an ear of corn: the yellow hood and the green stalks grace the sides against a Lemans Blue base. Surprisingly, there is no mention if the Jolly Green Giant of Pace Cars runs on E85. We’re not counting on it, because if it did GM would have put a big fat ethanol sticker on it. Or perhaps GM is counting on subliminal advertising. Maybe this is just a “tribute” to e85 cars everywhere!

2008 Allstate 400 Corvette Z06 Pace Car 2008 Allstate 400 Corvette Z06 Pace Car 2008 Allstate 400 Corvette Z06 Pace Car
 
2008 Allstate 400 Corvette Z06 Pace Car 2008 Allstate 400 Corvette Z06 Pace Car  
Credits: IMS Photos by Ron McQueeney

Whenever the Corvette paces a NASCAR race we just have to mention how the Z06 is well equipped with its 7.0 liter 505 horsepower V8 to lead the pack flying bricks stock cars. The only modifications needed to pace the Brickyard are “corny” exterior graphics and the safety lights.

Former Chevrolet General Manager John Middlebrook will be driving the Corvette Z06 Pace Car. Middlebrook recently retired after nearly 5 decades at GM, serving various positions including Chevrolet General Manager and GM VP global sales, service and marketing operations.

“It is great honor for me to have the opportunity to drive the Corvette Z06 Pace Car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Middlebrook said. “There is a tremendous Chevrolet heritage at the Speedway dating back to the involvement of Louis Chevrolet in the Indianapolis 500 in the early-1900s. To play a small role in continuing that tradition behind the wheel of the 505-horsepower Corvette Pace Car for NASCAR’s 15th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is a memory I will embrace.”

The 15th running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is scheduled to start at 2 pm EST on Sunday, July 27. Live coverage will be provided on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network.


Source:
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Related:
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Remarkable 1954 Silver Style Corvette Reborn

by Keith Cornett on July 25, 2008

1954 Style Corvette - Photo credit: James Haefner

While 1954 Corvettes are far from ordinary, VIN #2771 of 3640 produced in the second year of Corvette production took the path that few Corvettes seldom see and has survived to tell the tale 54 years later. This Corvette would become part of an exclusive club known as “style” Corvettes. Style Corvettes were cars usually pulled off the assembly line and sent to GM’s design studios where they would undergo a host of interior and exterior design changes as Chevrolet looked to improve and refine the looks, comfort and usability of the two-seat sports car.

The life span of a “style” Corvette was usually short. It was common for these cars to be destroyed after their “styling” exercises were concluded, but in some instances they were returned as close as stock as possible and resold. In some rare cases, they were kept in their restyled configuration and sold to GM employees or outsiders with ties to the Corvette program

Yet E54S002771 wasn’t pulled from the assembly line like the typical style Corvette. She started out the way most 2nd year Corvettes did – delivered to her new owner with a factory fresh Polo White enamel exterior with Sportsman Red interior. The original owner of #2771 was a GM employee named Roger Crispel. Roger longed for a 1953 Corvette, but being neither a VIP nor a celebrity, the two credentials needed to secure 1 of the 300 Corvettes built in that first year, had to settle on a 1954 model.

Roger received his Corvette in the middle of 1954 and thoroughly enjoyed the car until he started having issues with the mechanicals and the top. His Chevrolet dealer was powerless to help and may have actually contributed to Roger’s problems as at one point the Corvette wouldn’t go any faster than 15 mph. Copies of letters exist today show Roger wrote to Chevrolet Chief Engineer Ed Cole, describing his issues with his 1954 Corvette and how his euphoria and enthusiasm for the car had turned to dismay. Cole suggested dropping off the car at GM’s executive garage and Roger was given use of a company car while the mechanical problems could be correctly diagnosed and fixed. GM performance contributor and 3-time Indy 500 winner Mauri Rose signed off on the engine performance once the repairs were completed. Fitted with the second generation top now found on 1955 Corvettes, the Corvette was reunited with her owner.

In 1955 Roger was leading one of GM’s various interior design studios and needed a Corvette for a proposal. Instead of requesting a Corvette off the assembly line, he offered up his own car for the exercise. The first design exercise for #2771 was Shop Order 2536 and was dated 4-14-55. That exercise had the Corvette painted orange and black. “Hideous” is the word that Roger used to describe the appearance of his Corvette at the conclusion of the study.

A second Corvette design proposal was floated a few months later and once again Roger offered up his own 1954 Corvette as the subject. This exercise was Shop Order 10028 and was dated 2-11-56. The Corvette was repainted in a finish that Roger himself created. The color was described as having a goldish-silver hue and so he named it “Sahara Silver”. The interior was redone in a two-tone black and silver alligator leather trim and the original beige top was replaced with black canvas which really complimented the silver exterior and black and silver interior. Other styling enhancements included an engine-turned gauge bezel, a prototype three spoke Corvette steering wheel, vertical “shark-fin” headlamp fittings and a center armrest storage console.

1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette
1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette
1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette

The “shark-fin” headlamp fittings are one of the more interesting aspects of the second design proposal. 1953-1955 Corvettes are well known for their wire-mesh basket headlight covers, but due to laws in several states that prohibited obstruction of the headlights, the vertical shark-fin was tested as an alternative to the production headlamp baskets. In the end only two sets were made with one set installed on this 1954 Corvette while the other set found its way to GM Design Chief Chuck Jordan’s own Corvette.

The details of the two separate style exercises were well documented as Roger kept fastidious records. The 2-inch GM binder retained with the Corvette details the progress of the design proposals and numerous photos show the corvette undergoing the work in GM’s design shops. The Corvette itself is documented with the shop order (SO) id and date stamped on a metal plate that was then riveted to the Corvette’s cowl.

Sometime in the early Seventies, the Corvette was sold to Bruce Vollmer who restored the Corvette back to its original Polo White with Sportsman Red interior. The custom parts like the shark-fin headlamp splitters, dash, steering wheel and top all remained on the car. Shortly after this restoration, #2771 was parked in a heated garage where it remained for 30 years. Family, work, and money are often the reasons why cars are parked and forgotten and such was the case with this 1954 Corvette Roadster.

1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette 1954 Style Corvette

Corvette restorer Werner Meier knew #2771′s second owner Bruce Vollmer and had seen the Corvette in person. He had also seen the two-inch binder that documented her time in GM’s design studios. Knowing the special history of the Corvette, Werner often tried to convince Bruce to let him restore the car, but to no avail. Finally, the time was right and the Corvette was sold to well known automotive collector Ken Lingenfelter (no relation to John), who had the car transported to Werner’s Masterworks Automotive Services in Madison Heights, Michigan for restoration.

Werner used the data and pictures from the second design exercise as the basis of the restoration and the results of his eight months of labor are stunning. Much of the chrome had to be redone and Werner concentrated much of his talents on improving the fit and finish of the panels and gaps that early Corvettes are notoriously known for. Werner also had to take special care when working on the car’s custom pieces like the “shark-fin” headlight splitters. They were showing deterioration when he received the car and should anything have happened to them during the restoration process, there was no supplier call to order a new set.

The future of #2771 remains to be written, but looks to be much brighter since becoming one of the cornerstones of Ken Lingenfelter’s 150 car collection. Ken recently shared this Corvette and several others as E54S002771 made her public debut at the NCRS Michigan Regional Meet in Novi in Mid May 2008.

For a pricing perspective we turned to Vette-N-Vestment’s Bob Kroupa who said that documented style Corvettes are very rare and when they do reach the open market, they usually sell for a premium price. Bob mentioned the recent sale of two style Corvettes that were sold during 2006′s Bloomington Gold auction as a comparison. Both were owned by the former President of Chevrolet Bunkie Knudsen. A pink 1964 automatic coupe with air that was styled for his wife sold to collector Bob McDorman for $367,500 while Mike Yager of Mid America snatched up Bunkies personal frost blue 1964 Coupe for $278,250.


Source:
Masterworks Automotive Services
Corvette Forum

Photo Credits
Al Steiger – North Oaks Corvette Club
James Haefner – Haefner Photo
John Hinckley – Michigan NCRS

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Corvette Ad Watch: 505 Horses + You = The Corvette Z06

by Keith Cornett on July 24, 2008

505 Horsepower

Many domestic Corvette owners may not realize this, but the Middle East, and in particular the countries of Kuwait, Qatar, and UAE, is becoming one of the hot beds for Corvette ownership outside the US. These are oil rich countries where western influences are allowed and even encouraged.

You can easily search and find photos of car shows and gatherings featuring 50-75 Corvettes. Go online to the Corvette forums and you will find members from across this region participating in the same topics of discussion that we’re involved in. Recognizing this trend, Grey Worldwide, GM’s advertising partner in the region, created the following ad that was published earlier this year.

Click here for a larger version of the ad.

Source:
Ads of the World via Jalopnik

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The first 2009 Corvette ZR1 rolls off the assembly line

Chevrolet Dealer and Corvette Collector Dave Ressler was in Bowling Green yesterday to accept delivery of the first retail 2009 Corvette ZR1. Ressler is well known for buying the 6.2 liter supercharged Corvette at January’s Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction for $1 million. The special one of a kind Corvette features a unique VIN and will be the only one painted LeMans Blue.

Ressler was in the driver’s seat as the Corvette rolled off the assembly line. Next to him was his 10 month old grand daughter named Ayden Lynn who honked the horn a couple times during the event. The Corvette had a personalized license plate that read “Ayden Lynn” and Ressler referred to the ZR1 several times as his “granddaughter’s car”.

Back in January during the Barrett-Jackson auction, it was very much apparent that Ressler intended to be the high bidder of the Corvette ZR1, raising the bids in $100,000 increments and then sealing the deal at $900,000 by raising his own bid an additional $100,000 to make the gavel fall at $1 Million dollars.

The amount of money over the MSRP, estimated to be at $103,300 – $117,000 depending on options, will go to the United Way of Southeast Michigan.

After the Corvette was performance tested, it was parked outside the Bowling Green Assembly Plant next to Ressler’s other well-known Corvette, the #003 1953 Corvette which, coincidentally, he paid $1 Million for at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction back in 2006. “I’m proud to have the oldest Corvette along with the newest, best ‘Vette yet,” said Ressler.

Ressler plans to have the Corvette ZR1 trailered back to his home in Bozeman, Montana and put in his museum, where he already has 45 other Corvettes.

Sources:
WBKO.com

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Is Chevy Preparing to Sell Corvettes in China?

by Keith Cornett on July 21, 2008

Corvettes for sale in China?

This black C6 Corvette was recently spotted outside China’s National Department for Automotive Quality, the agency that reviews automobiles and decides whether or not they will be allow for sale in the People’s Republic. With China’s booming economy and burgeoning middle class, not to mention the fact that China will at some point become the world’s single largest market for automobiles, establishing a foothold for America’s iconic sports car only makes good business sense for GM.

One of the hurdles that Corvette will have to overcome is that Chevrolet is knows as a bargain brand in China much like Daewoo is in the US. GM sells the Corvette as a standalone brand or paired with Cadillac and Hummer in much of the world so this shouldn’t be much of an issue.

I’m not too up on my Chinese automotive trivia, but are their roads (and cars) right hand drive or left? If you know, please leave a comment.


Source:
ChinaCarTimes.com via Jalopnik

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The #3 and #4 Corvette C6.Rs Battle for the win at Mid Ohio

Just because there are no other teams competing in the ALMS GT1 class doesn’t mean there’s no competition for Corvette Racing. Taking a line from an old joke, I was watching a fight over the weekend when a race broke out. The GT1 class is all about the win, and according to Jan Magnussen “If you aren’t first, your last”. Magnussen and co-driver Johnny O’Connell extended their win steak to four in a row and fifth for the season by taking the checkered flag at Saturday’s Mid-Ohio Acura Sports Car Challenge. But the win wasn’t easy as our video recap shows.

It was at the two hour mark that the race for the flag really began. During a yellow caution period, both the #3 and #4 C6.R Corvettes entered pit row together for fuel, tires and a drivers change. With O’Connell in the #3 Corvette and Beretta in the #4 car, both Corvettes dropped and left their stalls simultaneously and a bit of fender rubbing occurred as the Corvettes went door to door, blowing through a red flag at the pit exit lane with Beretta finally getting out in front. The shenanigans on pit road were not appreciated by the officiating crew and both cars were sent to the penalty box for 2 minutes and thirty seconds.

“We are a very competitive group,” said O’Connell after tallying his 33rd career ALMS victory. “Both cars left at the same time and it was like the Hatfields and McCoys for a moment with two guys arguing for the same area of road. It was just two great race cars today running in very difficult conditions.”

After leaving the Penalty area, O’Connell was able to pass Beretta but both Corvettes were again summoned to the penalty box where they sat for five minutes for what officials called “taking unjustifiable risks”.

“A prototype drew down inside of him and he went wide,” O’Connell recalled. “I was on the proper line and my momentum carried me by. He was just gathering it up, but there was a gaggle of prototypes doing battle and it was chaotic.”

O’Connell maintained the lead and finished first in class. The win gives Magnussen and O’Connell 126 points for the Championship cup while Gavin and Beretta are 16 points back with 110.

“Who says you need more than two cars in a class to have exciting racing?” asked Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “I think what we saw today are two cars that are separated by thousandths of a second on the race track and separated by thousandths of a second in pit lane. Each of them is trying to win. I think it was exciting for the fans, and it was certainly exciting for us in the pits. It’s hard to deny the intramural rivalry that exists, and we saw two guys racing hard and getting caught up in the heat of the moment. We’ll all learn a lesson from today’s race.”

Corvette Racing will head to Road America for the Generac 500 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on August 9th at 4pm CDT. SPEED will televise the race tape-delayed on Sunday, Aug. 10, at 2 p.m. EDT.


Source:
CorvetteRacing.com
SPEED

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2009 Corvette ZR1 on the LutzRing

Yesterday, GM had some of the media out to its proving grounds in Milford to ride and drive in the new 2009 Corvette ZR1 and despite the fact that embargos were in place, several videos of the event are already making the rounds. Driving the Corvettes is Jim Mero, the GM Development Engineer who drove the new King of the Hill around the Nurburgring’s 13 mile course in 7:26.4.

Jim was one of the designers for what the test drivers call the LutzRing, a high speed road course at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds that’s nicknamed after GM’s Vice Chairman Bob Lutz. Despite knowing the course like the back of his hand, he does manage to appear human by knocking over some of the cones set up. He jokes that the “cones don’t apply him” which is quite funny when you’re doing 120 and can’t see over the next hill.


This video features WXYZ-TV’s Mary Conway riding shotgun with Jim Mero. And for the first time, we actually get to see more of Jim than his hands on the steering wheel as he appears on camera talking about the ZR1.


Finally, WWJ Newsradio 950′s Jeff Gilber goes for a high speed run around the LutzRing and the in-car video shows that he’s clearly uncomfortable with the speeds and G-forces that Jim Mero subjects him too.


After watching the videos, I pulled up Milford, Michigan on Google Earth and here is a satellite photo of the LutzRing. Amazingly, this is but one section of the entire Milford Proving Grounds area.


Source:
Motive Magazine
VetteTube.com

Related:
[VIDEO] Official Video of Corvette ZR1′s 7:26.4 Nürburgring Lap

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[VIDEO] 2009 Corvette ZR1 LS9 Engine Build

by Keith Cornett on July 17, 2008

2009 Corvette ZR1's LS9 V8 Engine

Automobile Magazine gets to tag along with Master Engine Builder Bruce Blomfield as he assembles one of the first production 2009 Corvette ZR1 LS9 engines at GM’s Performance Build Center. Each of the supercharged 638 hp LS9s are assembled by hand and the entire process takes about four and a half hours. Video after the jump.


Source:
AutomobileMag via Jalopnik

Related:
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