Retired Corvette Ride and Handling Engineer Jim Mero was recently invited to talk on the Overcrest Podcast where he spent nearly an hour talking about his 34-year history at General Motors.
His discussions on his early career at GM before joining the Corvette team was very interesting to listen to. In 2004, Jim makes it onto the Corvette team as their ride and handling engineering and is immediately put to work on the C6 Corvette Z06. From that car through the early development of the C8, Mero was the guy who helped tune the driving characteristics of all those great Corvettes over that time.
Jim talks about his time testing at the Nurburgring and he estimates he’s done around 4,000 laps over the 40 different visits to the track over the years. His first visit came in early 2000 where he was helping with Cadillac STS that featured the first magnetic ride control shocks, and his last visit came in April 2018 with the ZR1.
Eventually the conversation turns to the C8 Corvette (at 53:53 in the podcast) and Jim discusses how he was on the advance team that would help define the goals of the new car. Jim acknowledges that with the Corvette being 65 years old that some change was necessary, but Jim says he reminded Tadge [Juechter] they would go to these shootouts and that he doesn’t ever remember getting beat by a mid-engine sports car that was the same weight and horsepower as the Corvette.
It’s at this point that Jim says “I worry about the mid-engine”.
To get a feel of the top mid-engine sports cars, the Corvette team rented the top cars available which included the Audi R8, Ferrari 458, Acura NSX, and couple of Porsches. Also along were two Corvettes, a C7 Z06 and the Z51 Stingray, and Mero says “the two Corvettes smoked them”.
Mero says he voiced his opinion that none of the mid-engine cars they tested were cars to “aspire” to and that the front-engine Corvettes were currently better. But he says certain executives liked the driving position and visibility that a mid-engine car inherently has and they were happy with how the car drove when at speeds below its limits. He also stresses the utility of the C7 Corvettes where he can take “two sets of golf clubs and a couple duffle bags and go away for a weekend and well, you’re not going to do that in a mid-engine car”.
Mero says that the mid-engine Corvette will be extremely popular when it comes out but the question for him is whether it will stand the test of time. He reminds us that each Corvette generation was significantly better than the last and as good as the C7 Corvette was, Mero says had they continued along that path, he would rather have the 50/50 weight distribution of a front-engine car than one that is 35/65 and comes with a lot of understeer.
As the interview winds down, Jim talks about his Magnetic Ride Control updates for the C6 Corvette. Mero is also asked what makes a car cool and his answer was “When it’s yours”. He says that while at GM he had access to all the different models in the Corvette line-up but now that he owns a 2012 Grand Sport, it’s the coolest car to him because it’s his…
This was a great podcast for Corvette fans as well as fans of Jim Mero so I hope you will take the time to listen to Overcrest Podcast. You can also subscribe to it via iTunes.
[PICS] Jim Mero Confirms He Lapped the Nurburgring in 7:04 with the 2019 Corvette ZR1
Jim Mero to Offer Magnetic Ride Control Updates for C6 Corvettes
[VIDEO] Corvette Test Driver Jim Mero Has the Best Job in the World