Deja Vu or Just Another Mule?
Detroit, MI — Coming on the heels of the introduction of the new C-6 Corvette, we find such a release could merely be a mule of a different color. Insiders say that GM was on the verge of launching a heritage style (read: retro) Vette for the 2005 model year, as little as ten months ago. In keeping with the recent release of the SSR, Chevy was close to going the nostalgia route with their top of the line offering until the powers that be stepped in.
According to one anonymous source, conflict has followed the concept from it’s inception. Some within the elite design group were worried, not about public acceptance of the new design, but more importantly, what their next step would be once this card was played. It seems some of the team felt that should their tenure last — inevitably the pressure would be tremendous when they were forced to freshen up that nostalgia look with a C-7 in a decade or so… especially after it was felt they’d made a commitment to a step backward. What would they do, reach even further back for their inspirations? Of course the term “backward” raises the hackles of those specialty designers lobbying for the retro look.
As the story was slowly uncovered, we learned that the heritage prototype (above), which had a tentative “nod for go” as recently as eleven months ago, abruptly got the ax. This was due to not only the aforementioned designer concerns but reaction to indecision on the part of the GM brass whether to go the nostalgia route or continue the “edgy” theme pioneered by Cadillac – their XLR by the way, shares the platform with the new C-6. Of course this decision to move into the future in the least controversial and safest fashion, became a position that some say is extremely foreign to what the Corvette was all about in the first place. This dichotomy of style is openly apparent in all the automaker’s offerings and accordingly it’s no secret that these two design philosophies are locked in battle upon the automaker’s drawing boards. Nowhere in the hallowed halls of the giant was there a more bitterly fought engagement than amongst the “bow ties”, and their flagship car appears less for the ordeal.
Regardless, after the final decision to go with “edgy”, it seems nothing could stop that earlier direction from coming through. Quoting an informed source, “They pulled the plug on our ‘retro-vettro’ so late, that they literally rolled the prototype back into the studio, filled the concave side panels and bobbed the rear. Of course to disguise it’s classic origins, they couldn’t resist re-contouring the signature side vent at that slightly awkward upturned angle.” Those that lobbied against the heritage design felt this angular gimmick was more “with it”. However, those designers that fought so hard for the retro version are not completely convinced they’ve entirely lost the battle. Our inside contact told us, “You can still see strong indicators of the original ‘retro-classic Corvette’ design direction. In fact, the final production version looks a lot like one of our earlier C-6 test mules.” (Ed. – a running prototype used for platform testing in which all unique body features are haphazardly camouflaged or covered.) Our source (obviously from the heritage camp) closed his remarks with, “Now that you’ve seen our castoff Corvette, you be the judge. That retro look seemed pretty ‘edgy’ to us.” Of course, we didn’t answer.