If you don’t change with the times, you’ll be left behind.
Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in the rapidly evolving auto industry, which finds itself at a crossroads on the path to a future apparently filled with autonomous and electric vehicles.
Sometimes, however, change can retain a nod to the past. Witness this 24-year-old General Motors designer’s update to popup headlights, a styling fixture on the Corvette from C3 to C5.
Leyang Bai, a Chinese-Canadian working for GM in Detroit, offers up – on his impressive website, by the way – what he calls the “Neovette,” a grand tourer hybrid for 2030.
“This was a personal project after my entry to General Motors,” he notes, “though this project has no relation to any ongoing projects or assistance from GM.”
Bai says he wanted to take Corvette as a brand and see how it could potentially evolve in this age of electrification, “with its competitor Ford giving Mustang a greener image with the Mach-E and Tesla taking the world by storm.”
The Neovette represents Bai’s efforts to keep Corvette relevant in this modern climate and “really became a way to stretch my abilities when it comes to both design and modeling.” It’s his first concept with a complete exterior and interior design.
His rendering, which remains a work in progress “yet to be complete,” in his words, nevertheless has some strong points in our opinion.
For example, we love his futuristic take on popup headlights, which fell victim to pedestrian safety concerns as the C6 was being developed. “Given my attempt to bring back classic aesthetics to the Neovette,” he says, “I wanted to find a way to interpret the ‘popup’ look but in a new way.”
Instead of popping up, his design features a slide-down mechanism, with the headlight cover rotating downward to reveal the high-beam headlights and internal structures hidden beneath it. He believes it creates a new graphic for the fascia during activation while retaining a clean look when not activated. Take a look for yourself at how it works.
Bai also offers an interesting GIF image where the gullwing doors open to reveal a fixed clear glass bar separating the tops of the doors – another updated take on the whole removable roof panel heritage of the Corvette.
With this project, his ultimate goal was to provide one idea of how the Corvette can respond to the growing demand for cleaner sports cars, without losing its sporty roots, avoiding dilution and becoming just another brand.
His updated take on the split window heritage of the Corvette is appealing, while not blocking rearward vision.
In the end, at least in our opinion, the Neovette represents one possible first step toward the C9, though we’re not sure about the overall look as we tend to think it looks more like a Chrysler Crossfire when viewed from the side and more like an Olds Aurora in the rear bumper area.
Still, it’s good to know that young designers like Bai are willing to take the time to stretch their imaginations to keep our beloved 68-year-old sports car alive and well for many more years.