By on January 27, 2018

Image: 1987 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible

I’ve long said that stereotypes exist for a reason, perhaps to my ever-increasing danger from the “that’s problematic!” crowd. In many cases, however, it’s a false assumption. An unfair one. We’re a society of individuals who do things and like things for a variety of reasons.

Not every Silverado driver is a backwards-thinking hayseed. For from it. In the same vein, not every Challenger owner is a brash, nature-hating blockhead whose intellect never rose above a high school level. Not every Bimmer owner is a terrible boss and womanizer who hasn’t made use of a turn signal since the early 1990s. Not every Journey owner is oblivious to the presence of other, higher-quality vehicles on the market — their dealer just made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Still, automotive stigmas exist, and persist. General Motors once found out the hard way that holding on to the past was actually harming the future of its halo car.

Speaking to GM Inside News‘ Michael Accardi (you know this man), Chevrolet Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter recounted the dilemma facing his team at the beginning of this decade. After pumping the sixth-generation Vette with ever-higher levels of power and performance, it became clear that something was amiss.

The model’s buyers continued getting older.

To counter the troubling demographic drift, Juechter knew his team needed to take drastic action when it came time to design the C7. This meant holding a funeral for the model’s tell-tale round taillights, even if it meant sparking a mutiny among Vette aficionados. Apparently, anger still simmers in some circles over the decision.

Image: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

“With C6, we saw towards the end that each year, our average age would get a year older and that’s not sustainable,” Juechter said on the sidelines of the recent North American International Auto Show. “It’s one of the reasons we thought we could take some risks and walk away from some of the things we did traditionally in particular from a styling standpoint.”

Your author, who grew up preferring the Ford Mustang over any of GM’s performance offerings, can trace his lack of interest in the Corvette to a specific memory. Picture it: Rural Canada, late 1980s. Little Steph Willems is in elementary school. The only car in the parking lot capable of budging the interest needle is his fourth grade teacher’s Escort-based Ford EXP. It’s slim pickings out there.

Except, of course, on days when the substitute teacher had a class under her command. On those days, the parking lot welcomed a newcomer: a silver (of course) C4 Corvette. The driver, a middle-aged woman who wore oversized amethyst-colored glasses, copious amounts of makeup, a perm, and enough jewelry to make Elizabeth Taylor blush, was a regular fixture at out little school, as was her Vette. We never knew where she got the money to buy the thing, but it certainly wasn’t through a substitute teacher’s salary. Naturally, the Vette wore a personalized license plate.

I never saw that Corvette top 25 miles per hour. Who knows what my teacher got up to after leaving the school zone, but to me the Vette was nothing more than a bloated status symbol piloted by someone with superficial tastes.

Image: 1991 Corvette

Now picture the male equivalent of my substitute teacher. That’s the very image General Motors wanted to kill while designing its long-delayed C7, which bowed for the 2014 model year.

“For some people, the Corvette was the typical mid-life crisis guy, gold chain guy, you know, they bought a Corvette,” said Juechter. “So we had baggage, we talked to a bunch of Harvard MBAs, many of whom said Corvette wouldn’t even be on their shopping list because Corvette was designed for that guy and it hasn’t changed since. And I’m here like ‘what about the Porsche 911!?’”

Ditching five decades of round taillights was a major part of the company’s plan to lower the average age of the Corvette’s buyers to sub-AARP levels. GM wanted a sports car the public would judge on its own merits, not a rolling midlife crisis. A Corvette that didn’t just attract existing Corvette owners. By all accounts, it worked.

“The demographic data I have now tells me that 30 percent of C7 buyers are new to Corvette and 10 percent of the people are actually new to GM too, so that was a big deal,” Juechter said. “So we ended up keeping 99.9 percent of our existing clients and then added some.”

Okay, the 99.9 percent figure remains suspect, but it’s his word against our suspicions. What is clear is that U.S. Corvette sales, basically flat since the recession, doubled in 2014. Sales have since fallen, dropping from 2014’s post-recession high of 34,839 units to 25,079 units in 2017. Interestingly, last year’s Canadian Vette sales were the best this century.

The upcoming mid-engined Corvette should finally erase the last of the negative stigma left over from the past few decades, potentially drawing in Europhile supercar fans. There’s also word that the C7 will continue alongside the C8 for some time, boosting the nameplate’s sales volume. In this model’s case, the midlife crisis is over.

[Images: General Motors]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

117 Comments on “The Taillight Factor: When Heritage Becomes Dangerous Cargo...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    I was more of a Mercury LN7 guy…just kidding, I wouldn’t hitch a ride in one of those low compression dogs. I always associated Porsche with the whole midlife crisis trope than I did the ‘Vette, I still see a lot chicks in ‘Vettes in the summer. If someone likes ‘Vettes the taillight crisis will pass. When the Charger came back as a sedan I had a fit and swore I’d never buy one, that was a bigger deal than a taillight change, I got over it and bought an R/T. Now, Wrangler square headlights, THAT was a problem.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    “I’ve long said that stereotypes exist for a reason.”

    Well duh, Steph. The reason is prejudice.

    However, the average age of a C6 would not need to be a stereotype, as it was based on data. The gold chain? Dunno about that :)

  • avatar
    ajla

    So if I like the old image more I should buy a C6?

  • avatar
    ernest

    I’m going to disagree for one simple reason- if Chevy really wanted to appeal to the under 50 demographic, they’d offer a Corvette SUV like Porsche did.. I’m not suggesting they do, just pointing out the practical considerations the 30-50 yr. old crowd typically faces. For years, I swore I’d turn 40 in a Red Corvette. I turned 40 alright- with three kids, two Labradors, and a Red Suburban. Adding insult to injury, that Suburban was pricier than the Corvette. I’m quite sure I wasn’t alone in that.

    As far as that gawd awful butt end of the C7- the tail lights aren’t the only problem. The ’63-67 Corvette had timeless styling. I’d argue the C6 fits into the same school of thought. I strongly suspect the C7 won’t age anywhere near as well. And the Corvette needs a mid-engine configuration? Ask the folks at Acura how well that theory’s working out for them with the new NSX. They’ll be jumping for joy if they ever manage to hit 1,000 deliveries a year.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Because the only reason the NSX sells poorly is that its a mid-engine car. Excellent reasoning.

      • 0 avatar
        ernest

        No- it sells poorly because it addresses a demographic that isn’t in sports car buying mode… at least not sports cars in that price category.

        • 0 avatar

          Yes the midlife guy has some money but the NSX is priced as hedge fund monopoly money. That puts it at ferrari or mclaren and like acura at the lower tiers, it is “ not quite” the Eatablished Players.

          • 0 avatar
            Add Lightness

            I’m guessing in 5 years 2017 NSX2’s will be worth the same a nice NSX1.
            Complexity does not make a used car more valuable.

          • 0 avatar
            notwhoithink

            I think that the current NSX isn’t selling for the opposite of the reasons that the original did sell so well. The original NSX was the first reliable exotic. It looked exotic, and it had performance on a similar level to the Ferraris and Lamborghinis of the day, all while being significantly more reliable and rather more affordable. You might have been able to make that same argument about the Corvette ZR1 of the day as well, except that it looked like every other Corvette that you had seen for the past decade, and it hardly had exotic styling.

            These days modern exotics are considerably more reliable (perhaps pushed to it in part by Honda’s efforts in the 1990s), and unless you are a moneyed Honda enthusiast (and how many of those are there?) I just don’t see the argument for the NSX. For the same amount of money as an NSX you can have your choice of several lightly-used models of Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, or Porsche. Why buy performance when you can get performance and pedigree.

    • 0 avatar
      focus-ed

      “if Chevy really wanted to appeal to the under 50 demographic, they’d offer a Corvette SUV like Porsche did..” and call it Barque.

      Now, if GM really wanted to sell Corvette to younger customers they should have addressed affor-dability issue instead of spending yet more more money for dubious market research (and increasing msrp). I could care less if the taillight were round (as long as overall design worked) but if I can’t afford, I’m not buying it. It seems that the gap between income of younger buyers (there were hoping for) and CX prices has been steadily increasing as so was increasing the average age of their customers. I bet that even the great looking new series (I do like it) sells mostly to loaded aged man. Twenty something get a used one (if they had means to do so).

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        Jack agrees.

        http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/a15853527/maybe-what-gm-needs-is-a-four-cylinder-corvette/

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        This. Young(er) people don’t tend to have the cash to buy a Corvette. I laugh sometimes at manufacturers that chase after the “young” crowd, forgetting that older folks are the ones who have worked all of their lives and likely have more disposable income to buy their product.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          While you’re not wrong, for that to really work, automakers also have to play the long game. If you can connect with young audiences as something to aspire to, you should guarantee yourself a steady supply of incoming customers. But as good as it is in a lot of respects, GM’s struggled to appeal to younger audiences unless they’re track rats or domestic boosters (the image of the meticulously waxed automatic convertible at a stale cruise night is hard to shake).

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          Young(er) people who come up with the money to lease a BMW 3 series don’t even consider buying one of the many excellent condition low-mileage used Corvettes available. Why? Jack explained it in great detail. https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/editorial-dont-you-call-that-thing-a-z06/
          Walk around your local Cars and Coffee and compare the women hanging out around the Italian exotic car section vs. women hanging out around the Corvette section.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        GM can’t fix fifty years of economic decllne, it can’t put the dollar back on the gold standard, or deflate the price of living.

        Turning Corvette into the relatively affordable supercar was probably the best move they could have made. Whoring out the brand and mythos would not have worked, and the “premium” brands will pay for this in time.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          Agreed 28, people just cant afford cars like the Corvette anymore and Camaro and Mustang are heading that way as well.

          For the level of equipment and performance you get cars and trucks are an outstanding value when measured against inflation but in a world where there has been so much downward pressure on wages outside of the “winners” its just not sustainable as the pool of buyers shrinks.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree, and your point on equipment/features vs inflation is spot on for the average Joe and Jane Blue Collar worker. Corvette is about “fun” and performance at the expense of practicality. Who can afford just “fun” anymore?

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      Get the new suburban with the 6.2 and performance package

      • 0 avatar
        Maxb49

        “Get the new suburban with the 6.2 and performance package”

        That’s a nice engine for a truck, but it’s a truck. “Fun”, “performance”, and “truck” are incompatible.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    Looking at the C7 and comparing it to the C4 makes it painfully clear just how bankrupt of taste current styling has become. Everything is pointless angles and random shapes applied solely for the purpose of creating shapes. It’s every bit as overwrought and misguided as the worst trends from the late 50s

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      Agree, the C4 looks like a car adults with job would buy. The C7 looks like it was designed for elementary school kids.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “Looking at the C7 and comparing it to the C4 makes it painfully clear just how bankrupt of taste current styling has become. Everything is pointless angles and random shapes applied solely for the purpose of creating shapes. It’s every bit as overwrought and misguided as the worst trends from the late 50s”

      You misspelled “Civic”.

      • 0 avatar
        dangit56

        jalop1991-

        Kudos to you! The Civic is a great example of Honda’s real decline, despite record Civic sales, it looks “melted”, as if left in the oven too long.

        Your three-word reply is a worthy comeback right up there in the rarefied atmosphere of Corey DL, the current master of the one-line witticism!

      • 0 avatar
        dangit56

        jalop1991-

        Kudos to you! The Civic is a great example of Honda’s real decline. Despite record Civic sales, it looks “melted”, as if left in the oven too long.

        Your three-word reply is a worthy comeback right up there in the rarefied atmosphere of Corey DL, the current master of the one-line witticism!

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The designers of late ’50s cars were trying to do something more interesting than the three-box mid-’50s cars – which sold better and are more collectible. Those designers went overboard, pushing the body stamping technology of the time to its limits. Fortunately, there are very few examples left – they were serious rust buckets.

      As far as cars are concerned, the unibody structure dictated by mass production methods limits what can be done. The odd angles and shapes, mostly on the front and rear clips, and some “sculpting” of the sides, is the only place left to make designs stand out.

      FCA is now looking into replacing the Jeep unibody-with-welded-on-rails design with traditional BOF construction. Maybe the next two-seater sports car will be 4WD and Rubicon rated!

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    GM (Guangzhou Motors) and Chevy’s problems, Mulletvette included, are the product of $hitty vehicles, $hitty design, $hitty quality, $hitty reliability, $hitty interior (really $hitty) design and materials, $hitty exteriors, $hitty dealerships, $hitty treatment of suppliers, etc etc etc

    $HITTY MOTORS

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Not everyone can be as faultless as Jeep and Dodge. The Patirot is great but the Corvette suuuuuuuuucks because GM!

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        “Not everyone can be as faultless as Jeep and Dodge. The Patirot is great but the Corvette suuuuuuuuucks because GM!”

        But then of course there’s the king of them all…the great and all-perfect Buick!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      A little far, Corvette is probably the only GM car product still worth buying post 2010.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Poor comment. Leave the Corvette alone.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      DW,
      You always seem to denounce GM.

      I’m also a bit on the nose to some with my comments as well. But, I do try to offer ideas and alternatives.

      So, how would you fix GM? Expand a little on your usual dot point presentation, not “this sucks … blah”. Why does it suck and carefully consider your fixes. I think some of your ideas will send GM broke overnight and some are valid.

      You dwell on the past. Learn from it, but emulating the past will not necessarily work in the future.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The problem moreso confronting the Big three is the way in which they classify and bundle models within brands. Caddy is a great example as is Corvette.

    What I’m about to write will offend the elderly, those who grew up in a different automotive world then the newbies.

    The Big Three want loyalty, so what do they do? The young buy a Chev, step up to a Buick and supposedly (to be seen yet) a Caddy. Ford is similar.

    Take BMW or Mercedes, you start out in a lowly priced vehicle and aim to move up through the numbers.

    Within the Big Three there is way too much overlap between product. The SS is as well built or possibly better than any Buick.

    GM should of made Corvette a brand with a line of purely performance vehicles.

    Corvette could of had a tiny, sub $25k entry model along the lines of an 86 (but turboed) and move on up until you reach the zenith, a Corvette.

    US brands appear muddled to a degree on what and who they represent. This is where the Europeans shine.

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      A sub $25k entry level Corvette? You’re kidding, right? Yeah, those would fly off the lot. Good grief. Have you any clue as to what the Corvette represents? That’s a rhetorical question, btw.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Sub600,
        When the Cayenne came out the Porsche diehards had a fit.

        If GM wants to build a loyal generational following they need to diversify and become a brand to suit all.

        Corvette is not seen as a supercar globally it is viewed as an American muscle car that has some handling with a little style.

        Corvette of all GM’s names has the best chance outside of the US. The name could value add in pricing, so long as global quality is assured.

        I would of invested money into Corvette and not Caddy as GM has done and created a valuable export market.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        It wouldn’t actually be a Corvette, and it shouldn’t be called a Corvette. But it could be related and share much of the engineering.

        Jack suggested the name Zora in the article I linked above.

    • 0 avatar
      ernest

      As far as your comments regarding the Big Three- I’d heartily agree.

      I’m not sure the Germans aren’t headed towards making the same mistakes. Look at the current Mercedes Benz lineup, for instance. Where’s the coherence?

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        Dodge knows exactly who and what they represent, as does Jeep and Ram. Chrysler?, no. Ford seems to want out of large and midsize sedans, they too know who and what they represent. GM wants to be all things, so yes, they’re a mess. The buy Chevy, then Buick, then Caddy trope has been over for about 20 years now. Try to pay attention.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Sub600,
          Even with the culling of Pontiac and others, GM still has a bundle of brands that is aimless.

          So, yes twenty years ago what you state is true, then why is the branding the same muddled mess?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        ernest,
        Step outside of the US market and you will all manufacturers in the EU have much commonality, including names globally.

        The Asians’ branding starts to moves towards similar trends as the US, with different model names, but the same vehicles.

        The Big 3, less for FCA. Are purely US centrix. This can be seen as far back as the Energy Crisis of the 70s. The US has failed to get a global foothold. Even though it had the best opportunity from the 50s. This will continue whilst the Big 3 operate using different design rules and terrible tariffs creating a Jurrasic Park.

        Corvette could of been a great money spinner.

        • 0 avatar
          ernest

          True- of course the bigger picture is more complicated as well. FCA seems to understand American tastes are quite a bit different, but we also look at a different set of criterion when we go out vehicle shopping. The best example is the full-size pickup, a segment that makes absolutely zero sense virtually anywhere else in the world. I think Renault gets this as well- Nissan is their entry point into the US market. Their own home market products would, IMO, be a non-starter here.

          I see Mercedes taking the same risk Cadillac took in the 70’s. Going down-market in both vehicle and quality content. It’ll work for awhile. Heck, it took over a decade for Cadillac to blow up. But I know one thing- when I can lease a C300 for about the same money as a Camry, give or take a tank of fuel, it isn’t a luxury/prestige car anymore. Truth be told, in some ways the Camry is a better car. They’re hitting record sales, but so did Cadillac through the early 70’s. But we’ve seen this movie before (Packard anyone?).

          As to the Corvette, I agree. It could have… and should have been the GM Crown Jewel worldwide.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            ernest,
            I would love to have seen a Corvette take on the Europeans.

            Chev with the Camaro has screwed up as well globally. There would of been a market for it, maybe not as big as the Mustang, but never the less profitable.

            FCA with the Wrangler, Grand Cherokee have found a niche globally. It’s a pity GM can’t get their act together.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Isn’t that how the vette is seen in Europe? Less Chevrolet and more its own brand.

      I was told that years ago in any event.

      • 0 avatar
        WallMeerkat

        @raph

        For a European perspective, for many years Chevrolet was seen as builder of big, chrome, boaty-handling sedans.

        Then they launched in Europe with a range of ex-GMKorea/Daewoo vehicles as a budget brand. However the Corvette and Camaro were also brought along, LHD only US imports, so were seen as “real” Chevys.

        GM pulled Chevrolet from Europe as they were stepping on the toes of Opel/Vauxhall (which are imported to the US as Buick and sold to PSA Peugeot-Citroen), a handful of small dealers exist just to specialise on importing Corvettes and Camaros.

        So yes, Corvette and Camaro are seen as “proper” Chevrolet, almost marques of their own, compared to the Daewoo efforts.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      Honestly, the whole stair stepping up life’s nice things ladder was blown by Chevy with the Cobalt SS. The Cobalt SS was arguably the best performance bargain of the FWD class last decade. With the direct from GM performance package (GMS1) it would still be competitive performance wise. The engine and components were tough and the seats were great, but the build quality was a mess, it wasn’t differentiated, they made a non-turbo SS for some reason further diluting it. And the marketing was crap.

      If they had built that a little better with a little more style, IMHO, you’d start seeing the Cobalt/Camaro/Corvette life track like you see the Focus/Mustang/Mustang Special Package now. But there is absolutely no ‘hook’ into Chevy right now- you have to go straight to the Camaro. And Camaro’s only hook for the market they want is with the potent engine.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        MrIcky, the most positive thing I can say about the Cobalt I rented was that it was an improvement over the Cavalier. The rental had the larger 2.4L 4 which wasn’t the weak point. The problem was the Cobalt was assembled from cheap parts by people who appeared to have an active dislike for the end customer. Random parts would come off for no apparent reason. There’s a reason GM didn’t reuse the Cobalt name for the significantly improved Cruze.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    The C7 is the ugliest Corvette since the C3. It is to car design what Top Gear and Michael Bay movies are to cinema. Anywhere they could add a slash or crease, they did. And the underlying proportions are too flat and wide. I think the C6 will go down as a high watermark and possibly appreciate in the future as they become more scarce.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    GM overused the double round taillight sets on too many cheap and fleet special Chevys, on down to the Cobalt. It was a good look for those disposables, but the C7 couldn’t go back to them.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Hmmm, the shape of a car’s taillights affects the age range of the buyers for said vehicle? Really?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      That was my reaction.

      “Hey marketing department! Give us a reason to kill the round taillights that have been a part of Corvette Heritage since day one.”

      Marketing – “The average age of the buyers of the Corvette is too high because of those damn round taillights.”

      “Good enough, we’ll use it!”

      BTW I can’t wait for JB’s rebuttal to this stupid pile of crap being pushed by GM.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I legitimately have Corvette money at this stage of my life and I don’t get the round tail light bit. As one who came of automotive age in the 90’s, the bada$$ Vette was the ZR-1 and one of the things that made it recognizable as such was THE LACK of round tail lights.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      …That were only exclusive to the ZR-1 for one model year before the ’91 ‘Vette also received squared-off taillights (after which point the quickest ZR-1 identifiers were badging and the hatch-mounted CHMSL.)

      GM has no problem with stomping on its own d… um, history… whenever the mood strikes, and the taillights are just one of the C7’s many repulsive “styling” elements.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    So when can we expect those working on the Camaro to realize all this?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    There are other two seats sports cars (grand tourers?) out there. Jag F-types, Porshe Boxters/Caymans, and yes a tad more expensive Lexus LC than the Corvette. Mix the dealer experience, reliability, TCO, and “exclusiveness” and the Vette comes out last. Every single time.

    • 0 avatar
      ernest

      And yet the Corvette outsells them. Combined.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      el scotto, your premise, I think, is the Vette’ is a poor choice for long term reliability and dealer experience?

      Um….yeah no. Vette’s notoriously have great resale. Vette’s notoriously have fantastic reliability. Dealer experience? If you are not happy with the current experience, go down the street and try another. Not happy with your Porsche experience? Tough cookies.

      Vette’ is the performance car for the normal guy/gal who can save some dough and live anywhere in America.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      Woah, I think you’ve got some errors in this equation el scotto

      dealer experience – varies wildly
      reliability – maybe the Lexus, otherwise I’d take the vette in that bet.
      TCO – no, Vettes are relatively cheap to run, insure and have great resale.
      exclusiveness – yes and no. Fewer boxsters and caymans but wouldnt call those exclusive. Lexus are a lot more expensive than stingrays and really not the same kind of car.

      Just sounds like you’re confusing your subs with your obs on your ‘jectives.

  • avatar
    hamish42

    In previous years the manufacturers would all be faced with the same problem, say “mid-sized family car for 5”. And they would come out with their answers, each to their own. You didn’t get the same answer to the same question you get now. So, you had brands that were different each from the other. It was perfectly viable to be a Chevy guy, or a Mopar guy, and boast about the unique solutions in your vehicle vs the other guys’ piece of cr.. And there were unique solutions. Even in NASCAR the cars were radically different (and looked it) ns different guys solved problems their way. Now, cars are designed by computers If you give 2 computers the same challenges they will give you the same answer. And, hence, our roads are full of identical little jelly beans. Watch NASCAR and try to spot the Chevs for me. Tell me, is there such a thing as an “Infinity Guy” wearing a hat and T shirts with a pack of smokes up his sleeve?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You’ve just described what happened to styling. It was killed by the computers. Those same computers made manufacturing more efficent and kept car prices down.

      Cars today are not only more complex, they have a lot more “features” than they did in the 1950s, when most cars were inline sixes with three on the tree, and before ’55 you couldn’t get AC, power windows/brakes/steering, and heaters were optional.

      That manufacturing efficiency also allowed higher volumes. When GM owned half the market, it made only about 4 million cars. Now it makes far more vehicles, and it’s market share is less than 20%.

      I’d like a single computer to provide more than one relatively optimal design, with some clear cut visual differentiation. I would not want to see vehicle fatality rates return to the 1930s.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    C7 is the least appealing Corvette I’ve ever seen, at least as far as styling is concerned. The rear end is a disaster and not just because of the taillights. And it looks more like a midlife crisis car than ever before. All the owners over 50 don’t help there…lol

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      To me, the only “crisis” is being stuck driving a boring car. Tadge’s plan worked for me. I’d never ever consider buying a Vette prior to the C7 – just too many pennies squeaked out to satisfy the bean counters. C5 and C6 seemed to be a great suspension and drive train looking for a real body and interior. The C7 changed all that. Styling is subjective but the car’s performance is superb. The interior is actually very nice, with a few cost and weight compromises.

      Cars like this will never sell in big numbers to 35 and 40 year olds. Those people are cash strapped and are raising families. A two seat sports car does not fit in with their place in life.

  • avatar
    rickkop

    Back when I was younger a guy could save and put aside cash and save up to buy a new Corvette. Noadays the only people that can afford one are the very rich or the older guys that are past the midlife crisis age. What a shame. I’d love a nice newer Vette but it is way out of my price range now.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      @rickkop. Umm, not really. There are Tahoes and Suburbans more expensive than some Corvettes. GM has no problems selling those, and plenty of single dudes blow nearly that much or more on brodozers.

      • 0 avatar
        ernest

        Yep. Son’s new Powerstroke stickered out close to $70K. He’s 30, single, good job, and it’s in his driveway. Correct me if I’m wrong- that’s Corvette money.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      That’s also an old problem.

      Back in 1978, I was a new subscriber to Car & Driver. L.J.K. Setright did one of his back-of-the-book commentaries on directionless British-Leyland Jaguar…and remarked on how the E-Type, between its smogged engine and its Federalized bumpers, was a failed update. That the new automatic-transmission option and power-steering made it that-much worse.

      And then he remarked “When a car gets so expensive that it can only be purchased by palsied playboys and retired heads of prosperous companies…then you can expect the maker to engineer it so they can drive it like old men.”

      Corvette, with generational turnover in the planning section, is trying to reverse that…but both image and price are working against this. The round taillights aren’t the cause – they’re the symptom.

  • avatar

    Not really. A decent used vette can be had at all price points…even the C7 is listed at 40k…

    All I know about vettes is that on vette forums,, arguing about round tail lights will get you a ban.

  • avatar
    skotastic

    I dunno,

    I’ve never liked Corvettes, nor really ever cared for these sorts of rich douche man sports cars, but the C5 & C6 were just (cosmetically) bubbled out versions of the C4 a la 1990s styling.

    The C7 at least looks like it could be cross-shopped with GT-Rs – I mean it’s sort of a GT-R clone, but at least you can visualize someone driving it who isn’t part of the old man gold chain hawaiian shirt brigade like the C5 & C6.

    So decent job GM I think.

  • avatar
    ernest

    skotastic’s comment scares me. GT-R’s around here are stereotyped as the car rich people buy their sons. Daughters get BMW convertibles. Dad might drive an Audi R8 or something Italian. Oddly, almost every Porsche I see hereabouts is a SUV.

    *Interestingly enough, the typical Porsche buyer is a 47 yr old male, college educated, with a household income of $384K/yr. Corvette buyers are about 10 yrs older, and make about half that much.

  • avatar
    northeaster

    Or perhaps the word has gotten out not only that GM is actually building a better car, but also that a too-elderly demographic (that would include me) gradually becomes less interested in a plastic bomb for other reasons (e.g., that it’s increasingly hard to enter and exit for them).

  • avatar
    trackratmk1

    Corvette would have legs as a stand-alone brand. Spin off Corvette into a few models, not just trim levels. The front (mid) engine, the real mid engine, and probably some goofball stuff like an SUV or high power CTS-V wagon thingy to make the profits roll in.

    This will give the brand some life on its own, and separate Corvette from the stigma of being associated with Chevy. Who wants their $80k+ super car or sports car manufactured by a company that makes the Impala? Or for someone who says “we’re a Chevy family?” Or for the bro dozer with Calvin pissing on a Ford logo? Barf. Not sexy, that’s not an association Corvette deserves.

    Brand image is huge, and Corvette can have cache on its own. Yes you’ll piss off the same people Juechter mentions in the “old” audience, but spinning off the Corvette brand will give it room to breathe, growing under its own terms and with a younger customer base.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    Interesting dilemma.

    It should have been when they announced a “new” model – with a new name.

    Had GM not gotten so bunged up by the Fed takeover, they could have put the “new” model under the Pontiac label…but, as it is, the only way to satisfy both these demographics is to have two performance Chevrolets.

    Or else cut the old geezers loose.

    Just as there’s risks in ditching an established name (Taurus, Caprice, etc) there’s risks in carrying over a traditional name into an all new car that has little in common with the original.

  • avatar
    ernest

    I’m looking at sports car sales figures, and trying to figure out WTH it is that Chevy did wrong. Lets look at 2017 sales. Chevy sold about 25,000 Corvettes. In the entire sporty car segment, the only car that outsold it was the Subaru WRX/STI (there’s your 20-something market), with the Golf GTI and the Audi A5 finishing up the volume leaders. There’s the almost entire segment… the segment that isn’t Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger. Those three models booked 214,000 deliveries. That means they outsold the sporty segment AND the premium sports segment COMBINED. Let that sink in for a minute.

    In the premium sporty segment, the Corvette outsold the Porsche 911 by a margin of about 2.5:1. It outsold the ENTIRE EUROPEAN SEGMENT by a margin of 1.5:1. All of which leads me to believe, as much as I don’t like the C7, the Corvette is still the market leader in the premium sports segment- and number two is a long ways off.

    Let’s be honest here- older guys have the most money, therefore have the best toys. Chevy ignores those buyers at their own peril.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      Old guys have the most money; but old guys are interested in different things then kids in their twenties. The Trans Am never sold big with the over-fifty crowd.

      Neither did the Eldorado sell in big numbers to twentysomethings. Different ages; different stages of life; different priorities. Old men don’t stop-light drag; or most of them don’t.

      • 0 avatar
        ernest

        No argument… but I bought my wife a new ’84 Eldorado, and ordered custom plates. B4 30. Biggest POS we’ve owned in our married life, but that’s another story entirely.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        …But, it’s not that old guys aren’t interested in young guys stuff. It’s that old guys are interested in the same things they were interested in when they were young.

        The Cadillac Crowd in the 1970-1990s were looking back on what they wanted and couldn’t have in the 30’s-60s when Cadillacs were THE car.

        The Corvette crowd in the 1980s through 2000s desired a 60’s stingray when they couldn’t get afford it.

        I was in high school in the 80s and my wall poster was a 959-so I guess I’ll see when I hit retirement age but I think I’m going to whiff on that swing.


        The one thing that most people here are missing is that when the older person REALLY has money, they go to Barrett Jacksons and get the real thing. A new corvette is still distinctly upper middle class- if guys with real money own one, it’s because they’re frugal or they don’t want to put miles on their baby.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    I am in my sixties. When I was young (also talking sixties), Corvettes had exciting styling. I loved the Mako Shark styling of the ’68 as much as the previous generation loved the styling of the C2. By the time the C4, C5, and C6 rolled around, the styling had gotten boring, and I lost all interest in the Corvette. The round taillights bored me to death.

    I think the C7 is once again an excitingly styled car, and I applaud it. Would I buy one now? Probably not, but for a younger person of means looking for an exciting car, I think it would be a fine vehicle to own.

    I have owned a two seat sports/sporty car (Audi TT), and a younger friend just bought a Cayman, so we are at least people with an interest in cars such as these.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    It’s all bs. Every car manufacturer claims they want all their models to appeal to young people. Because old people want to identify as young people. And old people have the money for new Corvettes while young people don’t and also don’t care about things like Corvettes. This is all about selling more Corvettes to old people, or at least hanging onto sales levels.

    • 0 avatar
      ernest

      Agreed. Believe it or not, my “furkid” is the biggest single thing that keeps me out of a Corvette (or more likely another Mustang GT). Thank god the Charger has 4 doors (grins). This is my second Charger, BTW. First one was a ’69, and to this day I regret ever selling that car. Amazing what a powerful hold our youthful memories have on us.

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        There’s a better way.

        Ride a motorcycle.

        Seriously. That’s how I’ve been able to live with my cheap econo-box beaters. On two wheels, I’ve had a variety of performers – and some of them have gone faster than I’ve ever dared in a car. Like, over 140 on my BMW R1200GS.

        I tell myself I’m saving gasoline. That’s mostly a lie; but I do save purchase, and insurance…expensive as liter-bikes are, they’re cheaper than Corvettes.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’ve heard this term before and I am curious how and why humans relate their canine, feline, or pets otherwise to baby or adolescent humans. Animals are simply not children and never will be. Personally I believe this mentality came about as a result of the social failure of feminazism where many women feel or felt maternal instincts and by failing to act on them they have substituted animals as they live in denial about their poor life choices. I implore everyone to remember, as much as we may love our pets, our cars, or anything else, they are no substitute for children. Ever.

        • 0 avatar
          Sub-600

          I’ve always felt the same way. People seem to be substituting their relationships with pets for human relationships. Interestingly, the Pope mentioned this in his weekly radio address a couple of years ago as it pertained to children.

        • 0 avatar
          ernest

          I think the dog felt a bit triggered when he heard that… so much so that he took one of his chewies and went to his safe space to process. But a few thoughts to share.
          Just because he’s Black and has bad diction doesn’t mean he’s any further down the species chain. As a reminder, when it all really goes horribly wrong (earthquake, fire, flood), they don’t send in service HUMANS to find the survivors. Humans may be loveable, but they can’t sniff their way out of a paper bag. Ask any Armed Service member that’s had his azz saved by his bomb-sniffing partner.

          Someone mentioned the Pope. He probably doesn’t even have a dog. But you can bet your last Hail Mary that if terrorists or other sundry bad guys hole up in the Sistine Chapel, a German or Belgian canine, not a Swiss human, will be the first ones in to find them.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Service animals are wonderful and truly help mankind whether we deserve it or not, but they are no substitute for human children which is how animals seem to be used in many cases. This is not to suggest animals are not loving creatures and can supplement an existing family structure as pets.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            When your wife (mine) couldn’t have children, then Happiness is a Golden Retriever!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Sorry to hear. My fiancée was adopted and also could not reproduce, so she wanted to adopt. At the time I was not mature enough for such a scenario and just under a year later she was taken from me. I do hope you’d consider such a thing.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          It’s simple: having pets is simpler than having kids. Pets don’t cost $15,000 out of pocket to give birth to. They don’t cost $1,000 a month to send to day care while you go to work. They don’t cost $40,000 a year to send to college.

          Worse comes to worse, and you can’t care for the pet, you can offload it in a way that doesn’t scar the poor pet for life.

          It’s easier and cheaper. Makes sense.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Fair enough, but they need to be stop being called “furbabies” or “furkids”. The Libertarian in me doesn’t really care that much but the language purist/grammar nazi in me does. I think it truly reinforces denial and I’m tired of it.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            That’s an annoying term, but then again, if people can call children “rugrats,” they can call their pets anything they want. Free Will! The libertarian in you should approve.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            I liked it when Toby Keith (in his song: “Getcha Some”) referred to kids as “tricycle motors”.

  • avatar
    ernest

    The more I get to know people, the more I like my dog. ‘Nuff said.

    *Should also clarify we raised three kids… I’m well aware of the difference. The dog minds much better than they ever did (grins)

  • avatar
    makuribu

    Three photos and yet you didn’t bother to show a comparison of the tail lights.

  • avatar
    Reino

    F the stereotype. You know what makes a Corvettes different than other sports cars in its segment? Cars like 911’s and M3’s are only bought by YOUNG guys because they are WEALTHY.

    Corvettes are for the WORKING MAN who busted his ass for half a century and can finally afford an amazing sports car in retirement. That’s why their owners slew older.

    As someone in the latter category, with another 20 years to go towards achieving this success, I would prefer that the Corvette target market stays just the way it is.

  • avatar
    notwhoithink

    Not to pile on the stereotypes, but I saw a gorgeous C7 Grand Sport the other day on the freeway. As I drove past it I looked to see who was driving it, and it was a 50+ year old man with a moustache, wearing a jacket with Corvette patches on the sleeves. I love the C7, but that image really killed the desirability of the car for me…at least in that moment.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    If you watch much youtube- it seems that there are quite a few (obnoxious) young personalities driving Vettes now. So maybe the tail lights are working. If you believe in a stereotype, you’ll usually make sure you find examples to fit.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’d say half the c7 I’ve seen are owned by males <55, it's something I've purposely paid attention too since the C7 launch. I'd be interested if at least it had a vestigial rear seat for the school run of <2miles.A true 2 seater isn't viable at this point. I wish the Camaro wasn't such a penalty box regarding sightlines , as that would suffice.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Yeah, can afford a ‘Vette now.. Have no use for it – need rear seats and 4 doors (kids aren’t small anymore, but have ~10 years left with ’em, probably). While I’d prefer a 911, would probably “settle” for a Vette due to reliability/costs..

    Sure wish they made a 4-door Camaro SS. I know, the SS, but it’s gone, and the auto wasn’t that great from what I hear, and parts are gonna be a PAIN..

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Young people have way more cash than anyone thinks and they’re buying M3s and Caymans. If Corvette has lowered their age and kept traditional buyers that’s a straight up win. Is the car a fantastic performer? Yep, then, it’s win-win. I think Chevy can help their case buy providing a better entry to the Corvette. The Camaro is impressive, but it’s styling, to me, is really in the ‘relive my youth’ category.

  • avatar
    DEVILLE88

    I was going to buy a corvette…………..until i saw the round tail lights were gone.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • kericf: The good news is they can’t possibly make the visibility any worse than it is now. My wife really wanted a...
  • APaGttH: I’ll tell you what the Super Duty trucks need to be recalled for. Their retina-searing, blinding, God...
  • redgolf: AVT – Top lithium production by country -1- Australia 2- Chile 3- China 4- Argentina 5- Zimbabwe 6-...
  • Inside Looking Out: You cannot get that with Mazda?
  • Inside Looking Out: I would add – with gun on their heads.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States