* Seventh-generation Corvette at Detroit auto show
* Sales begin next summer
* New exterior and interior
By Paul Lienert
DETROIT, Oct 17 An all-new 2014 Chevrolet
Corvette, the seventh generation of the uniquely American sports
car in six decades, will make its debut January 13 on the eve of
the North American International Auto Show, General Motors'
Chevrolet brand said on Thursday.
Eagerly awaited by auto enthusiasts, the new Corvette -
dubbed C7 by the faithful but known to GM and its suppliers by
the development code Y1XX - is widely expected to have a
radically restyled exterior, a more upscale interior, a lighter
chassis, and a more efficient engine and transmission.
There will be a 6-month gap between the 2014 Corvette new C7
and the current C6 version, a Chevrolet spokesman said in an
email. GM will stop building the 2013 model in early February,
and is due to start producing the 2014 model in volume in July.
The first of the new C7 Corvettes is expected to roll off
the line in Bowling Green on June 30 - 60 years to the day that
the first 1953 model was produced, according to two suppliers
familiar with the automaker's plans but are not authorized to
speak on behalf of GM.
The C7's formal unveiling in mid-January also marks the
anniversary of the Corvette's debut in January 1953 as a GM
Motorama "dream car" concept in New York. Since then, GM has
built and sold more than 1.5 million Corvettes, although annual
sales have slowed in recent years as higher vehicle prices,
rising fuel and insurance costs, and growing competition from
Europe and Asia have eroded its once fiercely loyal owner base.
To rekindle interest in the Corvette, especially among
younger, affluent buyers who tend to favor imported brands,
Chevrolet has completely overhauled the car for the first time
since the sixth-generation model was launched in July 2004.
The result, according to chief engineer Tadge Juechter, is
"a truly all-new Corvette. There are only two carryover parts
from the C6 used in the C7 - the cabin air filter and the rear
latch for the removable roof panel."
Chevrolet even has redesigned the Corvette's familiar
crossed-flags emblem for the 2014 model.
Other significant upgrades, according to the supplier
sources, include a smaller, lighter aluminum V8 engine
displacing around 5.5 liters, advanced features such as
direction injection, cylinder cutoff and variable valve timing,
and a new seven-speed manual transmission for improved fuel
Prices, due to be announced next summer, are expected to
range from just under $55,000 for the base model to nearly
$120,000 for the top-of-the-line Corvette ZR1.
Chevrolet said dealers will continue to take orders for the
current model until December.