By on March 28, 2017


Maybe the answer’s a no-brainer, but perhaps it’s more complicated than that. We’re living in an era where traditional norms no longer apply to the auto industry.

Yesterday, we told you how ex-General Motors product man Bob Lutz is totally open to the idea of turning Corvette into its own brand — a progression of an opinion he’s held for years. Corvette needn’t offer just two-seat hardtops and convertibles, at least not in this day and age, he claims. SUVs are simply too big to ignore, and everybody’s doing it, don’t you know?

Maybe Corvette aficionados don’t want to leave those checkered flags in the garage when they pick up the kids at soccer practice. And what about those times when Home Depot is closing in 14 minutes and you really need that slab of particle board?

Besides an SUV, Lutz envisions a performance sedan wearing the Corvette badge. Sacrilege? Good business sense? It depends on who you ask. Iconic models aren’t entirely inflexible — Ford Thunderbird sales took off after Robert McNamara added two rear seats in 1958, though the model’s purpose grew more confused as it aged.

Other classic models have stayed more or less close to the script. Mustang (forget about the Mustang II), Camaro, and — for now — Corvette. Certainly, General Motors hasn’t any plans to actually branch out with the Corvette name (a looming move to a mid-engine layout keeps the two-seat sports car image intact), but it’s worth asking the question.

Would spinning off Corvette into its own brand water down the model’s heritage and allure? Or, if done right, would it simply give die-hard ‘Vette lovers more to lust after?

[Image: General Motors]

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60 Comments on “QOTD: Would Spinning Off the Corvette be the Worst Thing Ever?...”

  • avatar

    To me spinning off the Corvette sounds like a plan from the bad old GM days when they hired “brand managers” that had been stolen from places like Proctor & Gamble.

    Hey this guy was great at selling Tide, surely he can help us sell Oldsmobiles!

    • 0 avatar

      Hey, if that’s how we got Scotchguarded cloth seats, I’m all for the cross-pollination!

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Lutz is of the opinion that the auto industry – as we currently know it – has maybe 20 or 25 years left. Once we get to true self-driving cars, it’ll all be over. I can’t say that he’s wrong. Cars will become more appliance-like than ever and most people may not even own them – prefering to subscribe to their use instead.

      Under such a scenario, it might be difficult for GM to justify keeping a single model like the Corvette when it’s in the business of cranking out clinical pods that share very little technology with a sports car. But if Corvette were a successful premium niche brand with a number of different models – like Porsche – it could probably continue to thrive because there’ll always be rich people who need toys.

  • avatar

    essentially this says the Chevrolet brand is now garbage, so let’s take the one good asset and run?

    • 0 avatar

      Tincan, I don’t think this is saying that at all. (And this is coming from someone with a pretty quick trigger when it comes to calling out GM on screwups.) I view it as trying to create a premium brand, a la Porsche who is printing money on Macans and Cayennes and Panameras that all bask in the halo of the 911. Since the Cadillac brand was killed in the 1970’s by GM beancounters (although the corpse still festers), my initial take is that this is well worth considering. A brand based on actual performance is far better than whatever most GM brands are based on today.

  • avatar

    IMO it would be just to costly. In order not to dilute the brand with a CUV/SUV it would have to have its own purpose built platform. The same would have to be done with the sedan.
    However I for one have asked for years for Ford to take the Mustang platform and stretch and widen it and make it a Lincoln 3 and 5 series fighter. Its not like they have to tell anyone.

  • avatar

    If Dodge can do it with Ram, why not Chevy with the Corvette?

    • 0 avatar

      Dodge spun off Ram trucks to build…trucks. We are talking about spinning off Corvette to build SUVs. It would be like making a Ram-badged hybrid compact hatchback.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Oh dear. Bob Lutz, god love him, needs to call it a career. The GM lifers from the 70’s did great work making GM the success it is. The last thing GM needs is another brand to manage.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    It’s not the worst idea, but an Escalade sub brand is a better one.

    • 0 avatar

      Nah, don’t make Escalade its’ own brand. Name all the SUVs and CUVs in the Cadillac line “Escalades.”

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        Evoque equivalent, but no Chevy Trax rebadge, that car is not Cadillacable
        SRX, no need to change anything
        Buick Enclave rebody, already a nice car so shouldn’t be difficult. Cadillac Escalade Entourage?
        Regular Escalade, have a cost no object Rolls Royce interior $150k model and a gas mileage no object supercharged V model.

        ATS is fine, CTS should be Seville, XTS should be Deville, CT6 should be Fleetwood. Use both names, CT6 Fleetwood.

        I personally don’t care for the ATS and CTS, they look good but are mechanically missing the point and don’t sell, I would ditch them and replace them with more cost effective rebadges like Lincoln.

        All the sedans need a price cut, wreath needs to come back. I like eggcrate + hood ornament.

  • avatar

    So, one “Corvette” branded Escalurban coming up!

  • avatar

    In theory? Sure, why not. It works for Porsche, right?

    In practice, though, Chevy ain’t Porsche, and that’s why this won’t work. Say what you want about vehicles like the Cayenne or Macan, but stylistically or mechanically, they bear very little resemblance to the everyday cars they’re based on.

    Would GM do as good a job building truly differentiated models? Take a look at Cadillac, which sells a $60,000 car with an engine right out of a Malibu, and there’s your answer.

    • 0 avatar

      Sharing GM’s 2.0L turbo across vastly different product lines doesn’t mean anything. VW and Audi do the same thing with their turbos. No one complains there.

      • 0 avatar

        “VW and Audi do the same thing with their turbos. No one complains there.”

        I don’t like that VW/Audi does it either, but I care so little about those brands compared to Cadillac that it is hard for me to work up much ire.

      • 0 avatar

        I was referring to Porsche, not Audi.

        And, yes, there is engine-sharing among lower-end Audis and VWs, but not at the $60,000 price point where the CT6 competes.

  • avatar
    Edsel Maserati

    What kind of batting average does Lutz have, anyway? For all the manly cigar waving he’s been pretty wrong on a lot of issues.
    I don’t see the purpose of this move. Part of the Corvette’s appeal, I thought, was that you could get it fixed in Anyplace USA (although not all Chevy dealers are approved Vette shop).

    Far more worrisome to me are the projected price hikes on the forthcoming mid engine model. From what I’m seeing the base price is to jump from the low 50s up to the 80s. I’d be pleased to be proven wrong here.

  • avatar

    Spin it off and pair Corvette with Cadillac dealerships.

  • avatar

    The only brand spinning off GM should do is Cadillac, and sell it to a company that has the capital and proper know how to make Cadillac great again.

    The only automakers that fit this bill would be Honda or Hyundai/Kia if they position Cadillac above Acura or Genesis – somewhere around Mercedes/Bentley.

    Also, LOL Bob Lutz – you are done. There does not need to be a Corvette crossover. There are about 57 different Porsche 911 models, but you don’t see a 911 Crossover do you?

    • 0 avatar

      The name “Corvette” is currently a model, Lutz thinks it should be a brand name like “Porsche”. In that scenario the current Corvette C7 (or future C8) would be a model (probably called the Stingray) like the Porsche 911. The Corvette SUV would be a separate model (with a different name), like the Porsche Cayenne. That doesn’t mean the SUV has to be built on the same platform as the C7/C8.

  • avatar

    It would be a great idea. I can even imagine the first ad. It starts with a picture of a shark, swimming in a pool and there are ramps…

  • avatar

    Personally I think its a good idea if it could be done right, big if. The corvette name in itself has more brand cache than Chevy. Porsche has been successful selling a full line of vehicles, essentially built around the 911 halo.

    In order to do it though, Corvette would have to have perhaps a small roadster, sedan, small and midsize crossover AND, they couldn’t just be rebadges. No parts bin specials, no shared sheetmetal, exclusive engines, components.

    It could be a gold mine, but I wouldn’t trust that the lineup could be differentiated enough from say…Cadillac… to truly make it worthwhile.

    It makes more sense to just make a Chevrolet Corvette crossover and add some 4wd/offroad suffix to it. That I could see happening and selling.

    Depending on the success of the new model, then maybe you branch out into other models and if it clicks with the market, maybe then make corvette its own brand.

  • avatar

    Why would GM want to do that, when the Corvette is already doing a good job as a halo model for their main brand, Chevrolet?

    It’s main job is to bring customers into the showroom where they will buy the bread and butter models (pickups and SUV) that actually pays the bill. Whatever profit it make on its own is negligible in comparison.

    If they really must have a performance SUV, the Buick/GMC network could use a halo model, I suppose.

  • avatar

    Worked for Porsche. Well, I might add.
    There are a lot of people out there that would never buy a Porsche but like or would like to have a domestic Panamera or Cayenne.

    No brainer really.

    The hard question is, bring back the Hummer?

  • avatar

    Once it turns into a $80K AWD, DCT mid-engine thing with some turbo V6 (or maybe turbo-4!!) powering it, all the allure for me will be gone anyway.

    I’d honestly rather see it discontinued. At least the Viper died with its boots on.

    • 0 avatar

      You don’t like anything but RWD V-8 sedoupes (dat my new portmanteau!). You’re like the Prince of Previous, outwardly a humble monk of the order MOAR MOATURR, your piercing gaze betrays you to the observant.

      Are there 454 HO tattoos on the insides of your forearms?

      • 0 avatar

        He’s the Fresh Prince of Previous.

      • 0 avatar

        “You don’t like anything but RWD V-8 sedoupes”

        Haha. That’s actually not *entirely* accurate. I’ve only owned 3 vehicles that are RWD & V8, while I’ve had 10 FWD cars powered by the Buick V6, 2 that were FWD/V8, and even 2 I4 cars.

        I’m more against drastic changes to what I feel are the identity of a long-running vehicle or brand.

        For example, despite my affinity for V8s, I wouldn’t want to see a V8 Viper or Grand National. If the Corvette had always been a mid-engine / AWD car, I would be complaining about it going front-engine and RWD.

        Just to rock your world, here’s an old comment where I praised the Nissan Juke.

        So that’s a turbo-4 CUV with AWD and a CVT but I sort of like it because the “Juke” name doesn’t carry any past history and the Nissan brand doesn’t have any heritage related to dimensions, displacement, or cylinder count.

  • avatar

    I thought the vette was designed to bring customers into the Chev showroom and sell them the Malibu they really needed. Spinning it off will kill that approach and limit the image of ever upward mobility.

    • 0 avatar

      Does anyone honestly just casually look at a Corvette? Camaro, sure, but I don’t think the Corvette name has the sort of buzz it once did, so comparing it to Porsche is a bit much.

      One thing a Corvette line *would* solve is it would give a place for GM’s sporty offerings to go. Cadillac is building world class driving cars, but their customer base doesn’t care. If they funneled all those products into a sporty premium Corvette line, they could go back to making Cadillacs the boring luxury cars all the Florida senior citizens want to float down the road in. A ride so soft you’ll barely notice you’re in a sinkhole! And I’m proooud to beee an Americaaaan….

  • avatar

    I miss the clarity and truth of DEADWEIGHT.

    Is he banned again?

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    If you just put the right nameplate on your turd, the masses will eat it up like it’s pepperoni pizza.

  • avatar
    01 Deville

    I think it can work. Corvette is too strong a brand to be limited to one low volume car.
    They will need proper brand management, as they are beginning to do with Cadillac now, rather than have engineering drive it.
    I would imagine a corvette subspace in Chevy dealerships that sells the 2-4 models, copying Porsche, but please no suburban based Corvette.
    Engineering can platform share a halo mid-engined car with Cadillac. But the volume models would be alpha and zeta based CUVs. If they ever do a Sedan it has to be a more of a rapide in profile than CLS.
    Besides the mid-engined halo car, the price range should be from 40-80K.

  • avatar

    The thing I dislike most about taking my Stingray to a Chevy dealer is having to deal with the dealer. I love the Stingray, there is not a thing wrong with the new generation from a design and form and function perspective. They have nailed it.
    If Chevy can make special accommodations for Corvette owners needing service, I be happy with Chevy. That means only certain advisers take Corvette service requests, and only certain mechanics get their dirty paws on the car (I think that is already the case as far as C7 is concerned relative to certified mechanics). Spinning Corvette into its own brand is crazy in this day and age. Corvette is something that gets foot traffic for Chevy. Also, when it comes to having cool stuff, I think Caddy should own that if they can ever figure out the assets GM has as opposed to trying to reinvent the wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      Back in 1997, the Chevy dealership I worked at had a heavy-line tech that was also our Corvette specialist. He did everything on ‘Vettes, of any year (generally C3 thru C5) from transmission replacements to installing radios.

      I agree with you – the worst part of Corvette ownership is dealing with the Chevy store. I wonder how many potential ‘Vette buyers haven’t purchased one just because they don’t want to drive a Chevy.

  • avatar

    Since this worked so well for SRT….

  • avatar

    I like the idea, but do it for Escalade, not Corvette. There’s much more money to be made from that spinoff. I think America would be very into “Range Rover By Detroit”… for real, not in the cheapo Chinese clone way Ford is doing it.

  • avatar

    As a halo car, Corvette unlike a lot of others, does get people into the show rooms and some of that image is spread amongst other Chevy products.

    Think of a Corvette owner and picture what else is in their driveway. Probably a Tahoe or Silverado. This can’t be said of Skyline (or even 911) owners who are I’m sure less likely to be tempted by the rest of the company’s offerings.

  • avatar
    its me Dave

    Kind of like how Olds spun Cutlass into a brand in the 80’s Sure, why not?

  • avatar

    Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

    “Lutz envisions a performance sedan wearing the Corvette badge.”

    You kinda have that already. It’s called a Chevrolet SS. All it’s missing are the flags.

    Corvette is an American icon. A halo to remind the public of Chevy’s relevance and position in the marketplace.

    Now if GM would only hire a CMO to articulate why the public should even step foot in a Chevy showroom, that would be nice.

  • avatar

    “SS” could be its own brand with the Corvette headlining. Only ‘select’ GM dealers, including Buick or Cadillac, would be eligible for “SS” (franchise) high performance cars and trucks.

  • avatar

    Lutz is actually a bit on track here, but with the wrong car. Chevy should revamp their entire car line around a ‘brand’ call it Impala or Chevelle – base it on a modular AWD platform offer an electric version of each – from said platform offer hatch, wagon, sedan, sports coupe. If they’re desperate to amortize Corvette parts use the ‘Vette platform for the next Camaro, maybe even stretch it more for a four-door Caprice, but don’t call those cars Corvettes. (I am pretty sure the Corvette platform is far too specialized for being adapted, but I can dream, it’s the internet after all).

  • avatar

    Spinning off the Corvette from Chevy into its own brand would be a travesty and unforgivable.

  • avatar

    The problem is not so much the idea but the reality of implementing it. The Corvette is an iconic and highly evolved design – so how do you do the brand justice without diluting it?

    It wouldn’t be easy. It could mean an Alpha based RWD sedan – but GM already has those and they are not selling well. Then there is the SUV which would simply be another re-badged GM product with some trim pieces and a bigger engine. To me this is sounds a lot like per-bankruptcy GM.

  • avatar

    Rather than this dumb idea they’d be better off creating a Corvette tuning house a ‘la AMG. They could offer performance versions of existing models. Who wouldn’t want a Corvette Equinox?

  • avatar

    In the book called “All Corvettes are Red” that described the disorganized way that GM developed the Corvette C5, I believe the GM head of design said something to the effect that “there is a little Corvette in every Chevrolet”, which caused me to choke when I read it because it was pure bullcrap in the 1990s. Of course back in the 1950s and 60s it was largely true as Chevy SS models with hot small blocks and big blocks did share much of their mechanical and styling DNA with the Corvette, and if that had continued until today there would be no thought of having the Corvette abandon the Chevy brand. GM had the strongest car brands in the world for about 50 years, but killed them all with mismanagement – a “new” Corvette brand would face the same fate as Hummer, Saab, Geo, and Saturn.

  • avatar

    It’s not a bad plan if you want to spin off “Corvette” to be the performance brand.

    The Corvette C7 is what we know as the modern Chevy Corvette.

    The lower-perf, entry-level Corvette C3 would be the Toyobaru/Z/etc fighter.

    There should also be some muscle car silliness though calling it the “Corvette Camaro” sounds incredibly stupid. Call it the Corvette C5 and then make the top-end, limited production performance package the “Camaro Pack”.

    Go ahead and add in performance versions of small/mid/large SUV’s from GM’s parts bin because that’s what will actually pay for the brand.

    See, I can make horrible decisions just like corporate execs.

  • avatar
    George B

    I don’t get this. When I hear “Corvette”, I think of old guys that didn’t age well. Similar social standing to Jimmy Buffet’s older fans. The Corvette car is considerably better than its brand image.

  • avatar

    I’ve been saying this for years that Corvette should be its own brand. It’s association with Chevy cheapens its image, and if it ever wants to be taken seriously in the world of sports cars it will require it. The Corvette brand is rich and could sustain being on its own with the proper product portfolio. Keep the current model’s form factor, add a higher end midengine model, a Cayenne-esque SUV and maybe even a Boxter/Caymen competitor and there you go. These would be very profitable models for GM.

  • avatar

    Spin off Corvette. Move the next gen ATS/CTS replacement to it. Give Cadillac luxury oriented cars, not BMW beaters, to replace the loss of the next gen ATS/CTS.

  • avatar

    Corvette is a two seat Chevrolet sports car. It should stay that way. Chevy has trucks, sedans, SUV’s, and sporty coupes and convertibles. Corvette is part of the Chevrolet brand, as it has been for 60 some years.

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