Men With Gold Chains Ruined Corvettes With Round Brake Lights For Everyone

Turns out, there are some people who are still pissed the C7 ditched the Corvette’s “iconic” round taillights.

When Chevrolet pulled the sheet on the new C7 Corvette in Detroit back in 2013 it ditched several significant design cues that had become synonymous with the brand.

Beloved features like round tail lights and the basket handle B-pillar were eliminated, it was a betrayal more cruel than what Judas did to Jesus–these were allegedly the things that were very important to the people who buy them, said the individuals who yell about how stuff should be on the internet.

Never mind the absurd levels of performance Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter and his team had repeatedly delivered over the entirety of the C6 program–this was the ultimate sin.

“We brought out [the C6] ZR1 with 638 horsepower and people said this is it you’re never gonna beat this, then the next-gen Z06 had 650, then we go from 650 all the way to 755 [with the C7 ZR1]” Juechter told us at the 2018 North American International Auto Show.

“Then you look at track performance, like maximum lateral grip, for a long time, 1g was the holy grail, it took a long time to approach 1g, then we went like 1.0, 1.05, 1.13. 1.2, boom, boom, boom, so you would think we’d be at the point of diminishing returns but instead, we went the other way, where we hit an inflection curve where we actually started getting more capable faster.”

While none of that may be tangibly related to round taillights, the decision to walk away from iconic Corvette design cues was made easier by an aging demographic base and a problem with public perception.

“With C6, we saw towards the end that each year, our average age would get a year older and that’s not sustainable. 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.

“For some people, the Corvette was the typical mid-life crisis guy, gold chain guy, you know, they bought a Corvette. 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!?'”

Regardless, it was a significant turning point in Corvette history. According to Juechter the C7 marked the first time GM had significantly moved the needle in terms of demographics.

“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. So we ended up keeping 99.9 percent of our existing clients and then added some.”

Tadge says it’s a delicate balance, but it’s a necessary evil. “We have to do things to make sure we have a car that people want to be passionate about.”

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