Whether you're a car person or not, I don't need to introduce the Chevrolet Corvette to you. Over 60 years ago, the Corvette was revealed to the public, and it has been America's favorite and best-selling sports car ever since. If you had to make a list of automotive nameplates that could be described as truly legendary, excluding the Corvette from that list would be simply impossible.
So when I was made aware that the latest version of the Corvette, the C7, was going to be available for me to look at, sit in, and even test-drive at the monthly Southern Automotive Media Association luncheon in Miami, Florida, I absolutely had to be there, the 3-hour drive from Orlando being wantonly disregarded.
After an absolutely delectable lunch at the world famous Barton G. restaurant, we settled in for a presentation by John Fitzpatrick, the marketing manager for Chevrolet's performance car division. Fitzpatrick went over some of the new technology that has been incorporated into the C7 Corvette, including the laser-welded all-aluminum frame, carbon-fiber hood and targa roof panel, and the direct-injected 455-hp LT1 V8 powerplant. "We didn't set out to build a Stingray, we set out to build the greatest Corvette that we could," said Fitzpatrick. To make the C7 the best Corvette ever, Chevrolet picked some goodies out of its racing program, including magnesium seat frames and a tire temperature monitoring system. "A lot of people say 'We have racing influence.' Well, we're race proven," said Fitzpatrick. "We're taking technology straight from our current C6R and applying it to this car."
After lunch and the presentation, however, was the opportunity we'd all been waiting for: the chance to drive the C7 Corvette Stingray. I joined fellow Examiner Steven Marks, who writes the Ft. Lauderdale Sports Car column, in an Arctic White Corvette with the coveted Z51 performance package, which adds magnetically-controlled adjustable suspension and an electronically-controlled limited slip differential, and aerodynamic enhancements. Steven did his best to hold the camera steady while I wrung out the all-new 7-speed manual transmission to produce my first (and unrehearsed) video-accompanied car test - the link to the video is at the top.
Much gratitude and appreciation goes out to John Fitzpatrick and Monte Duran of Chevrolet for bringing the C7 Corvette all the way down to Miami for us to drive, and to Marcello, Tony, and Angelo Serrato and everyone at SAMA for what can only be described as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To say it was worth the 3-hour drive from Orlando is an understatement.
Furthermore, check out Steven Marks' own coverage of the C7 Corvette test-drive.
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