Even the bolts that hold the 2020 Corvette Stingray together are unique to the latest rendition of America’s Sports Car.
That’s just one of the outcomes of the collaborative effort between Chevy engineers and designers that wound up touching all aspects of the new mid-engine Corvette, even something as minute as the bolts.
But since the C8 represented such a massive change for the Corvette, the company took the opportunity to ensure that it not only performed like an exotic car, but that it also looked the part.
Hence, the joint effort by engineers and designers, even though sometimes their worlds can be like oil and water.
“Engineers, we’re very functional. Every feature, every facet you see of course is purposeful, but generally, in our mindset, it’s just purposeful,” said Mike Kociba, GM’s assistant chief engineer for small block engines. “Now you want to take that extra step and say it not just has a function, it has a style. That really takes us out of our comfort zone.”
But it was critical to have that kind of sometimes uncomfortable teamwork since the engine in the 2020 Corvette is widely considered the “jewel” in the Corvette “ring” since it is on display to the world through a large glass opening in the hatch.
“The engine really was intended all along to be a kind of showpiece of the car,” Kociba said in an interview with Automotive News (Dec. 2, 2019). “There is now a window. You can see into our world directly for the first time.”
It took engineers and designers about a year before they were able to reach all their design and performance goals with the new LT2 engine, which they wanted to be the equal of the much more expensive Ferrari or Lamborghini.
“Even though we didn’t have the same price point, we still need to execute just as well,” said Paul Arnone, lead creative designer for performance interiors.
That means making sure that the finishes on each component in the engine compartment was in “color harmony,” Arnone said, a concept that originally met with some “deer in the headlight” looks from engineers.
“The first time I tried to explain beautification [to the engineers], they looked at me like I had three eyes,” Arnone said.
For example, the concept that the black shade on some parts wasn’t “warm enough” puzzled Kociba.
“It’s almost a whole different language that they use,” he said. “As an engineer, I have no idea what temperature has to do with color. As you start working with them and they show you different examples, it absolutely makes sense.”
That includes the red engine cover that looks aggressive and high-tech, according to Kirk Bennion, exterior design manager. “It has a little bit of spinal quality in the veins going down the middle,” he said. “It sets a different tone of the car. It’s not timid or anything like that. It’s a provocative part.”
At the same time, design wasn’t meant to take away from function. Instead, all the parts are meant to work in harmony, Arnone said, pointing out that the engine cover is “integrated into the workings of the engine.”
That’s why the two departments worked hand in hand on virtually every part under the hood and hatch in an effort “just to make sure the car was truly and wholly designed” and “just wasn’t piecemealed together,” he said.
That ambitious goal led to big consideration on small parts, even bolts that designers drew inspiration for from Ducati motorcycles. “All their bolts are internal drive, and they have a nice finish to them,” Arnone said. “They don’t scratch or mark.”
Since GM’s engineering criteria doesn’t allow bolts with an internal drive, the C8 team came up with a dual-drive bolt with a cleaner, more stylized look.
“It’s unique to the Corvette right now,” Arnone said. “It was definitely a different aspect of my job. I’ve been doing this for a while, and I’ve never helped develop a bolt.”
But then GM had never before worked on a production mid-engine Corvette.
[VIDEO] Tadge Juechter Talks About Road Noise and Z-Mode During MotorTrend C8 Corvette Drive
[VIDEO] Corvette Exterior Design Manager Kirk Bennion Brings a C8 Corvette to the Cleveland Institute of Art
[VIDEO] 2020 Corvette Stingray Convertible Reviewed at the LA Auto Show