So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen--goodbye, C6. That's the theme that kept repeating itself at the 14th annual C5/C6 Birthday Bash, held recently at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. And with the end of the sixth-gen Corvette's production run just around the corner, this year's Bash focused on giving fans of the marque a closer look at some very special '13 offerings.
The Bash was started by C5/C6 Registry Directors Dan Adovasio and Jake Drennon back in 1998. The idea was to let Corvette owners share their suggestions and ideas directly with members of the car's development team. This firsthand feedback has demonstrably improved the car over the years, to the extent that many Corvette engineers now seek out the opinions of Bash attendees. The event has since expanded to include many other Corvette functions, in the process creating a unique brand community centered around the car.
It's easy to forget that C5 and C6 Corvette production has now spanned 16 years. The C5 era saw the launch of the first fully factory- backed racing program, in the form of the highly successful C5-R. The C6.R followed in the footsteps of its predecessor, and even today it garners valuable international racing exposure for the brand. In recognition of these achievements, Corvette Racing Manager Doug Fehan gave Bash participants an update on how the team is faring during the 2012 ALMS season. Crew chief Dan Binks co-hosted the session and gave his own insight on how the team is keeping the C6.Rs competitive.
While seminars like this one helped keep owners informed as to Corvette's present status, no specific information was given about the next-generation car. Instead, sessions focused primarily on how the C6 was developed and tested, and how it continues to be marketed today. Guest speakers included the Corvette's current chief engineer, product manager, designer, and others with intimate knowledge of the car. Even former chief engineer Dave Hill was present to bid farewell to the last vehicle he developed before his retirement.
As we reported in a previous issue, the big news for '13 is the availability of the 427 Convertible. Based on the Grand Sport 'vert, the car uses a steel frame, rather than the aluminum unit of the Z06. An RPO B92 carbon hood and the carbon front fenders from the Z06 are standard to help reduce weight. Best of all, the 427 Convertible will be offered in all colors and with a wide variety of options. We photographed a Velocity Yellow example with Q6B ZR1-style wheels and the CFZ carbon package, a combination that turned plenty of heads both in the parking lot and on the highway.
One option that isn't available in every hue is the 60th Anniversary Edition, which can only be ordered on Arctic White cars. But contrary to the initial press releases, the 60th gear will be offered on all Corvette models, including ZR1, Z06, Grand Sport, 427 Convertible, and even the base car. The package includes a special blue interior with diamond-patterned stitching, along with “60th” logos for the steering wheel, seats, and instrument panel. A pair of optional light-blue horizontal stripes snazz up the body.
New factory offerings weren't the only things on display at this year's Bash. Callaway took the opportunity to show off its first 25th Anniversary B2K supercharged coupe. A total of 25 B2K cars will be built for the '12 model year, all painted Cyber Gray and outfitted with a Callaway-exclusive carbon package. But unlike its twin-turbo predecessor, this modern B2K Vette is powered by a 620hp supercharged LS3. We'll have much more on this car, and Callaway's longstanding partnership with the Corvette brand, in an upcoming issue.
The Bash also provided enthusiasts the opportunity to take two laps around the museum in a vintage Corvette race car. For $50, they got to ride in a '63 ex–Grady Davis/Gulf Oil Z06 that competed at Sebring. Not surprisingly, everyone who climbed out of the old warrior had a big smile on his (or her) face.
As always, the parking lot and show field were jammed with beautiful late-model Corvettes, providing an unrivaled opportunity to check out the latest trends in custom wheels, exhaust systems, and other modifications.
As we were preparing to leave, we heard that the '14 C7 will be featured prominently at next year's Bash. Sounds like a must-attend event, don't you think?