By on April 4, 2013

I’d be a day late and a dollar short if I cared about being professional automotive journalist. To wit, we recently discussed how the digitally rendered C7 Stingray droptop Vette’s 5-spoke wheels look like a last-minute “virtual” hackjob for a looming deadline. The nice folks at Corvetteblogger show otherwise during their visit to the New York Auto Show: these hoops made production spinning the wrong way.

This is a new Corvette from the New GM, son. But this ain’t right.

We assume that the new, invigorated, not-beancounted General Motors does everything possible to make the C7 a credible threat to “le package totale” of sports cars, the Porsche 911. We know the stunning chassis and brutally elegant power train gets the job done. LT1-FTW? Obviously. And the styling might be beautiful in the real world. Hard to know on this thing called the Internet.

 

Except when the wheels are spinning the wrong frickin’ way on the passenger side!

I suspect that computer assisted rendering makes left/right directional wheels an easier cost to stomach, but The General still forks over big cash for extra work on the production/inventory management side.  But these (according to Corvetteblogger) are optional, not part of the appealing, easy-to-market base price.

So what is the incremental cost for two different castings? An extra $50 per car, MSRP? Even if it was quadruple, don’t you think Corvette buyers–folks that gladly pay extra for Museum delivery–would fork that cheddar over in…wait for it…a heartbeat?


The Corvette is a halo car; a Flagship for the entire company.  And it’s the real damn deal: the quintessential Vulgar Ass-kicking American ever since the uber-wedge, Z51-equipped 1984 Corvette put down Porsche stomping numbers.  Ferrari scaring numbers, at the least.  All for a fraction of the price. But cheap for a reason.

Instead of being (maybe) 20% cheaper than a baseline Porsche 911, why can’t the C7 be (maybe) 15% cheaper with better design and superior attention to detail? Flagships deserve better, even if the numbers aren’t ideal for a balance sheet.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

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51 Comments on “Vellum Venom Vignette: Ridin’ Spinners (Part II)...”


  • avatar
    lon888

    I worked with an engineer who interned with GM in the mid-80′s. He said at the time if a change cost more that $.25 (yes, 25 cents!), it was automtically scrapped becuase it would eat too much into their profits. So this happening doesn’t really surprise me.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      You pile on hundreds of $.25 savings and it adds up… and then you have to put $5000 on the hood to sell it. I suspect the incremental cost of a second wheel casting are a lot closer to a quarter than $50 or even $200.

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        The incremental cost of the casting is not the issue; it’s the logistics involved with two extra parts (assuming the rear wheels and the fronts are different sizes).

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    This seems like the Corvette that clears the shark, after moving away from the ramp for the past couple generations. Compared to the C6, it is heavier, it is much less attractive, and it is being received with all the enthusiasm that being ugly and heavy should merit. The high air dam and low rockers panels make it look like a banana. I suspect that the original air dam height was rejected because the bean counters clipped the height adjustable front suspension required to make it pass over speed bumps and parking blocks.

    I don’t like directional wheels even when they’re done correctly. They just create needless headaches down the road. The Corvette solution here avoids the headaches by making the car look stupid from day one. Bravo.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      When I first saw the photos, I shared your opinion. Yesterday, at the NYIAS, I saw both the coupe and convertible in the flesh and I did a 180. The car is gorgeous, it really does look like a true exotic. Yes, the taillights are a bit, shall we say, adolescent, but the overall shape of the car works and really is deserving of the Stingray moniker.

      I’m not in the market for a 2-seat car, but if I was, it would be at the top of the list.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Bunkie, I’m with you. I was not thrilled with the photos either, but when I saw the car in person, wow!! I loved it. I hated the quad exhausts in the press release but even they look good. The convertible really looks the best. Interior looks superb, too. I reserve final comment when I can see production models but these looked well made and damn sweet. I don’t like that stingray thingy, but I believe I found my next car.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      CJ, I’d be interested in your sources for saying that the C7 Corvette is heavier than the C6.

      Everything I can find says it’s about 50 lbs lighter, the 99 lbs saved on the frame offset by a heavier floor and seats.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Compare the aluminum chassis C7 to the aluminum chassis C6 ZO6 and it’s gained at least 150 lbs. “The center tunnel is also completely redesigned, and that part’s actually heavier than in today’s aluminum car because we needed the strength for the open-roof car. The overall mass of the metal parts alone is down 99 pounds, from the steel-framed open car to the new aluminum version.” -Ed Moss in Car and Driver’s article “2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray: In-Depth with the People Who Made It Happen.” The curb weight is listed as 3,350-3,450 lbs. Chevrolet claimed 3,132 lbs for the outgoing ZO6 in standard form, and it usually tested at less than 3,200 lbs. Car and Driver tested a heavily optioned Z51 coupe in 2008. It weighed 3,299 lbs. I can’t find any evidence that the final product is lighter. Depending on which model you choose to compare it to, it is 50 to 200 lbs heavier than the outgoing model.

        http://media.caranddriver.com/files/2008-chevrolet-corvette0709-checor-z51-08-ss.pdf

    • 0 avatar
      suspekt

      It’s a great looking car, get over yourself.

      This and the FRS are at the apex of performance and cost.

      Have you seen the C7 in person yet? If so then fair comment but if not maybe you should reserve judgement.

      And before you start chastising the weight, why not wait to see what the official HP, Torque, and actual weight comes in at? What if the C7 is able to deliver a 1/4 mile trap speed between 118-122 all the while delivering a 15% fuel efficiency improvement?

      God bless the men and women who work at GM, amen

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    I have always noticed this issue with wheels that have “directional” design. Has ANY manufacturer actually made two sets of the same design so that they match on both sides of the car? It would make tire rotation a hassle, but I suppose if directional tires were used, then it’s irrelevant.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    The only thing wrong with this picture is that the roof’s missing.

    Plus, no car is so appealing and fault-free that you can’t say SOMETHING negative about it.

    Roll these facts up into a nice neat curve, grade on it, and the C7 comes out near the top.

  • avatar
    stars9texashockey

    @CJinSD: Well said. I haven’t been able to vocalize why I don’t like this design at all, except for the general “business” of it and of course the squircles/tailpipes rear end. Your high dam/low sills comment puts it into perspective.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Weird. I am familiar with directional tires . . . true M+S tires commonly are directional. But you can flop the tire around with the “inside” out for one side of the car . . . and no one can tell the difference ’cause the “inside” is the same as the “outside.”

    But “directional” wheels that spin the wrong way? Now, that’s bad. I would be heading to the aftermarket, if GM is unwilling to deal with the hassle of inventorying “left side” and “right side” wheels. If that’s too much trouble — and maybe it is — then just skip the whole idea, guys and leave to some nutjobs on the aftermarket.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Let’s also remember this is a pre-production display vehicle and this will hopefully be addressed. I’m not really into GM cars but the haters are out in force. Give credit where it is due. Sure they should have caught this. But if we are picking apart a pre production car, lets talk production models. The car show was quite enlightening. Nearly every BMW on display exhibits orange peel in the paint. Buicks offered better paint, let alone a Lexus. But when you don’t want to see something, you don’t see it.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    American sports car in general just look… heavy. And not in a good way. The corvette, the mustang, the camaro, the Challenger/Charger/300. Even the upscalers like the Caddy CTS and the Lincoln MKS. They all just look overwight without ever touching a scale. Maybe they lack a tuck at the rockers to avoind looking like a fat cat’s belly, or a lift at the rear diffuser. It’s just, not quite right to my eye. The European and Japanese offerings more athletic, even if they are slower. The only exception I can think of is the M3, which to me has become a parody of car, and more akin in weightiness of design to a Camaro.

    • 0 avatar

      Fair enough, but you forgot the GT-R.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I don’t know why the Corvette team copied the GT-R’s styling, but they did. I wouldn’t list styling as one of the Nissan’s strengths.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Check out the NSX concept making the rounds…it looks like it copied the C7.

          http://www.acura.com/future/NSX#1

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            How many ways does your comment fail? There’s the fact that both sides of the NSX you linked to are shown, revealing that the left and right wheels are mirror images(this assumes you do know that this thread is about how the C7 uses clockwise spinners on both sides). There’s nothing much else the two cars have in common. There’s also the fact that this NSX was revealed during the 2012 Super Bowl, about a year before the C7. Does that cover it? Weak sauce.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Look at the NSX at the car show and it reeks of C7. Even if the concept NSX was around before the Vette, the Vette is now reality and the concept NSX is still just that, a concept…so the sauce is strong. and yes I saw the wheels as well and already commented. A bad oversight I will agree. But easily corrected before PRODUCTION begins in August.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            It reeks of epoxy and fiberglass? Of all the modern 2 seaters, they have remarkably little in common. Proportions? No. Fake air intakes on the NSX front fender? Missing. Real air scoops on the haunches of the Corvette? Don’t see them. Horizontal headlights on the Corvette? Nope. Vertical ones on the NSX? Nada. Body colored A-pillars on the Corvette? Missing. Targa roof with flying dog legs on the NSX? Of course not. Repurposed Malibu tail lights on the Acura? What do they have in common? I’m more likely to buy a C7 with a manual transmission than a hybrid sports car from anyone, but I really think you’re reaching on this.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    This reminds me of any controversial Robert Cumberford criticism. You’ve ventured too far into the subjective to have anything other than common differences of opinion. Your background in design may be making you hyper-sensitive to this marginal flaw. We have learned to cope with directional wheels without much difficulty. Plus, I’ve found this to be an easy litmus test for competence when dealing with an unknown tire store. (I just re-read my submission and realized I haven’t had to deal with a directional wheel since selling my much-missed Mark VIII, so perhaps that alone could justify the criticism)

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      You do realize that this abomination won’t be testing tire stores because the wheels are the same on both sides of the car? One side’s spokes point in a clockwise direction and the other side’s spokes point…in a clockwise direction. Whichever way they were meant to spin from a design standpoint, one side is spinning backwards.

      • 0 avatar
        olddavid

        No, I didn’t. That this would make it to a roll-out car is a head-shaker. The Peter Principal is alive and well at GM. Sure makes it hard to root for them. My Father worked with Mr. Estes in the early 1940′s at Cadillac. I worked for GMAC for 18 months in the late 70′s, and perpetually heard “that’s how we’ve always done it” in response to any question I had. It seems some traditions die hard. I guess when my generation is gone, any vestiges of GM’s worldwide superiority – which was obvious to anyone in 1965 – will die with us. That will be a sad and wasted legacy.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          The 2013 Buick Encore was just recalled…for the steering wheels falling off. The only other time I’ve heard of cars being recalled for detached steering wheels since 1988(VW Fox) was when GM introduced the 2011 Cruze, barely two years ago. How the heck do they let steering wheels fall off new products so close together? Couldn’t they have tried something new, like when Sonics got delivered without brake pads because they are CKD kits that fell apart on the way over from Korea?

          • 0 avatar
            olddavid

            They once had an obvious standard of excellence. I guess even stating that dates me. This is the same company that astounded a grade school me with the 1957 Eldorado with memory seat and self-leveling, and engineered the Riviera and Grand Prix soon thereafter. Sloane and Kettering and “Mr. Earl” are rolling in their graves.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            This is at least the 2nd time you’ve mentioned this, and the reality is that occasional production line issues happen. There are 144 cars being recalled, of which 59 were delivered to customers already, and of which 85 are at dealerships. So far none of the Encores at the dealerships have found to have the problem.

            As far as I’m concerned, a recall with that few cars is a good thing because it means they caught the problem on the production line very quickly. In an ideal world there’s no recall, but to criticize a manufacturer for catching a problem quickly (again, only 144 possible cars with a problem, of which more than half have been shown to be fine) and making good seems a bit misguided and petty.

            www dot latimes dot com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-gm-recalls-144-buick-encores-for-steering-wheel-defect-20130402,0,6047710.story

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            corntrollio, you are correct, but when you have an agenda, you harp on things like this. No different from bringing up old issues from any manufacturer over and over…like sludging Chryslers or Toyotas….

  • avatar
    akitadog

    How does a company make such a mistake when prepping for an auto show rollout?

    We know that Reuss reads TTAC, and this error was caught virtually here, i.e., before it would have become a real problem. Then it went ahead and actually became a real problem.

    I really like the new Corvette, but this looks like amateur hour at GM. There were too many sets of eyes on this thing for it to have passed by unnoticed. The fact that it did is deplorable.

  • avatar
    Brian P

    If this Vette is like many previous Vettes, the front and rear are different widths (are they?)

    To do that, and to have spokes that spin “forward” on each side, would mean four different wheels, each one dedicated to a corner of the car!

    Whole lot easier to just design non-directional spokes.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I have to disagree with the author

    Although I agree on the half baked idea of directional rims.

    Whether flagship or economy I’d rather have a cheaper product that is reliable and doesn’t have all the fancy stuff in it then the more expensive product with tons of detail, since all the detail requires more money.

  • avatar
    toplessFC3Sman

    For 99% of buyers, do you really think this is a problem? I don’t think most of the general public or potential buyers would even notice, especially since I regularly see directional wheels on incorrectly/mismatched on both sides of a number of cars

  • avatar
    gessvt

    Meh, I prefer the stockers, and the coupe body. Both of which can be seen here, not to mention startup, revving and idling sounds (from Amelia, I believe).

    “2014 C7 Stingray Corvette Start, Rev’s, Exterior 360, Interior, and Drive Off ” on YouTube in case the link doesn’t work.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ib48qj1shwA

  • avatar
    olddavid

    .00000001. Thank you, I’m honored to be included in this sample.

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    The C-4 in the last photo had LH and RH specific directional wheels.

  • avatar
    redav

    I don’t like the look of ‘directional wheels’ regardless which way they’re spinning.

  • avatar
    number9ine

    Nowhere in this article nor in the comments do I see a confirmation that the production model will ship with one directional wheel part used on both sides. Also, I’ve been to plenty of auto shows over the years and seen some interesting things on the “production” models shown, down to the wrong kind of steering wheel, Euro- or JDM-spec parts, etc.

    I think this article would benefit from a little more investigation and perhaps a bit less speculation or accusation. This is my attempt to be constructive and I hope it’s viewed that way.

    (I’m not a Corvette fan and I’m not affiliated with the General in any way. )

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    I was looking at the specs for the Mk7 GTI on the VW-UK site and noticed the standard 18″ wheels, which are an updated version of the “Detroit” wheel but with a spin, are not L/R directional. I might not have noticed (right away) but for this article. Now I’m irritated!!! Do you suppose you can get snow tires for the 18s…???

  • avatar
    racingmaniac

    As pointed out the new MK7 GTI wheel are not directionally matched. Neither were the VW “Interlago” wheels on the CC. And from the cited competition, the 911, we had the 996 Turbo wheels which were not directionally matched also. I am sure you would be glad to know though the Pagani Huayra’s CNC wheels that takes 2 days to machine are. But at that price point, and with their manufacturing method(machined from billet) that is the correct way of doing things…unlike where you are trying to cast tens of thousands of wheel and to save P/N variation and cost….

    • 0 avatar

      Re: 996…that’s sad. I google’d the 993 Turbo, the same seems to apply there too.

      And yet somewhat low-volume, far more mundane cars like the Honda Prelude (Part I of this series) and the Lincoln Mark VIII went all out for a proper set of directional wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        racingmaniac

        The new Audi “RS” wheels too, the ones on the TT-RS/RS3/RS5 with the 5 thin-ish spoke and a twist bladed look has the same issue….

        Money and cents makes more sense than styling sense these days….the amount of “quality issues” that can arise for a car rolling down the line with the wrong wheel for a “defect” just makes no sense from a design for manufacturing perspective….

        Personally I am not a fan of those styling thing one way or another…


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