In April the National Corvette Museum held its latest "Bash," an event that, during its 15-year existence, has developed into the nation's premier spot for Corvette fans to learn details of upcoming models and mingle with the people who design and build them. The Bash was conceived by Dan Adovasio and Jake Drennon, a pair of Corvette enthusiasts best known for launching the C5 Registry organization and website in 1997. The following year, shortly after the '98 Corvette Convertible was named Car of the Year by Motor Trend magazine, Adovasio and Drennon convinced then–Corvette Chief Engineer Dave Hill that the C5 deserved a "birthday party." Hill agreed, and the duo developed the C5 Registry Birthday Bash, which ran for eight consecutive years. Although the Registry no longer plays an organizing role, the event—now known simply as the NCM Bash—continues to draw large and enthusiastic crowds every spring.
As usual, this year's event found both NCM parking lots packed with Corvettes over the course of the long weekend. The buzz about the new C7 could be heard throughout the museum, and the Corvette team brought 33 engineers and managers from Detroit to stoke the excitement. In a series of detailed seminars, Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter and his team spoke about the numerous engineering challenges posed by the new car, while GM Design Director Tom Peters and his team addressed design objectives.
Team Corvette also displayed two experimental, or "EX," C7s inside the NCM conference center. The first was a Laguna Blue manual coupe equipped with the Z51 package, while the second was the same Night Race Blue automatic convertible that appeared at the New York Auto Show. Unfortunately, the cars had to remain inside due to the heavy rain that settled over Bowling Green during the event.
We learned that the last C6 was a 60th Anniversary 427 Convertible built February 28, 2013, and that it will remain at GM. The process of switching over to C7 production began almost immediately at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant. Once the new assembly line was completed, the first '14 Corvettes were built slowly, giving workers time to familiarize themselves with the new car and make any necessary adjustments to the production process. These first cars will enter what is known as the Captured Test Fleet, an arrangement by which engineers and brand managers rack up test miles and sort out any remaining bugs before the first customer cars are built.
As announced previously, pricing for the 1LT coupe is $51,000, while the convertible lists for $56,000. (Both models carry a $995 destination charge.) The Z51 Performance Package adds $2,800. Ten exterior color choices will be available: Black, Blade Silver, Crystal Red, Night Race Blue, Laguna Blue (new), Velocity Yellow, Torch Red, Lime Rock Green (new), Cyber Gray, and Arctic White.
Highlights of the 1LT package include eight-way power leather seats, a seven-speed manual trans with Active Rev Matching and Launch Control, a rear-vision camera, and a nine-speaker Bose audio system. The 2LT model adds more-highly adjustable seats (with heat and vent features), Bose premium audio, home remote, a memory package, heads-up display, Sirius XM radio, an enhanced theft-deterrent system, and a luggage shade net. The top-line 3LT brings a leather-wrapped interior with Napa seating surfaces, navigation, a cabin-colored instrument panel, and an optional suede trim package.
The Bowling Green Assembly Plant staff is working overtime to build the best Corvette yet, and if the early pre-production models we checked out are any indication, we think you'll be very pleased with their efforts. We hope to have driving impressions for you in our next issue, so stay tuned.