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Old 05-27-2010, 07:07 PM
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The Corvette - Sophistication in Simplicity

I was driving downtown today when I spotted a Daytona Sunset Orange C6 Corvette. It was being driven by a middle age man rather unsurprisingly, and as I saw him drive by in the opposing lane I gave him the thumbs up as I do to all drivers of special cars that I like that I see on the road. I saw this car and knew right away I had to share my thoughts about this Corvette, and all Corvettes with you guys.

As it drove by me, something popped in my head - Ferrer's supposed (I say supposed as I can't find any reputable source that links da Vinci to it) Leonardo da Vinci signature quote - "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

I was thinking to myself - is not the Corvette the ultimate expression of this maxim in the sportscar world? Here is a car that in Canada starts at 67k, and a mere 49k in the States, but punches well above it's weight when compared to more exotic (read: European) competition. The Corvette in all it's versions is more simple than it's primary rivals and enjoys a huge fan base - partly because it is so accessible to the common (middle-aged) person - ok who am I kidding - man. This car is also much easier to maintain and work on and servicing is much less of a nightmare when compared to European exotica - or even relatively attainable European performance cars such as your C 63s or M3s, or RS4s (not exactly the same class, but these are cars with less performance for more cost).

Gearheads seem to love bare bones track day cars - Atoms, Caterhams, and what have you - they are simple, relatively cheap, and can eat much more expensive cars for breakfast even at their relatively cheap price point. They are drivers cars, enthusiast cars. Whatever you want to call them, these are the cars that touch that primal instinct in each one of us - the thrill of the growl of the engine, the beautiful but simple and sexy lines, the enjoyment of rowing your own gears. I would include the Corvette as a car like this but only much more practical. Sure, there are automatic Corvettes, but we all know that the manual is the way to go - the 'Vette has had a 6 speed since the C5 (1997!) which as far as I can think of is before 6 speeds caught on in performance cars. While other mainstream performance car manufacturers are pushing manuals to the edge of extinction, Chevrolet has kept the manual in the Corvette for ages - sure, maybe because it's cheaper than some semi-auto or DCT or what have you advanced gearbox, but isn't that what enthusiasts want? Review after review that I have read of late has all complained about the lack of available manual gearbox in cars, or the poor quality of a semi-auto 'box (Audi R8 anyone?) yet many, and I would say many on this website (UCP seems to lean European car-wise, even for the North American posters) the Corvette isn't really thought of as an alternative.

Why? Does it get bad mileage? No, manual LS3 equipped Vettes get 7.7L/100km or 37 mpg highway and they make 430 horsepower. Are they heavy? No, the base model is 3200 pounds (the V8 R8 for comparison (yes it has AWD I know) is 3400 pounds) and has a 51/49 balance. In fact, as we looked at extensively in another thread, the LS7 is a very light engine and has one of the better power to mass ratios for any naturally aspirated engine out there. Why do people give the Corvette a hard time? Is not this the car that all the performance car drivers on this site should want? Is it because it is Chevy or American that people don't want it? Or it's rougher around the edges and doesn't handle as well? Guess what, you probably won't be able to afford that Ferrari you dream of, but you know, there is a chance that if you work hard, you may one day as a middle aged man may be able to afford that "simple" Corvette.

So many reviewers and fans seem to decry the Corvette for it's parts bin interior saying that it's a huge turnoff. I think these people have fallen afoul of what truly matters in a car (at least for me, and as a performance car enthusiast) - how it drives. The reviews I have read have been glowing in their praise for the Corvette, mind you, they were American, but even the snobs at EVO gave the Auto 'boxed 'Vette 4 out of 5 stars - 4 stars for an Auto from EVO! What would they have given the manual (admittedly, I dunno as a quick search only yielded a review for the C6 with a slushbox)

The Corvette may use some outdated technology (leaf springs, however good they are are not modern, OHV has been out of date for at least 30 years now) but it simply works so damn well. It is simple - it is beautiful, it is fast, it drives well. It may not handle like a Ferrari, sound like a 911, be as trendy as an Audi, or look like a Lamborghini, but it performs 90-95% as well as these Europeans at a half, a third, a quarter, a fifth the price depending on what you compare it to, and depending on what version you have your eye on.

The Corvette isn't a throwback - it never has been, it doesn't need to be retro. It has always stuck to it's core principles - inexpensive, fast, big engined, glorious sounding, and yes, simplistic - plastic rear end be damned, this is a great car.

It's so refreshing I think to see a car that sticks to it's core principles - those mentioned above - when so many other manufacturers seem to doing everything possible to further remove us from the driving experience - self parking cars, adaptive cruise control, undefeatable electric nannies, and all sorts of electronic gizmos that add weight and do little to a) make the driving experience more enjoyable or b) make driving the car much easier. I imagine Ferrer's voice in my head (keep in mind I have no idea how he sounds - I imagine him with a British accent sometimes when I read his posts due to his use of the British variant of the English language) saying that we have lost the true path - cars are fatter, and less involved than ever. Well hold the phone there, because there is one car at least that sticks true to it's roots, and the roots of enthusiast driving - the Corvette.

So next time you see someone (probably a man in his 40s-60s) driving a Corvette, whatever Corvette it is, maybe give a thumbs up and knowing nod to the driver - he/she may be driving the "poor man's sports car" as my dad so derisively dubbed the Corvette (a negative image of this fine car the he instilled on me at a young age and an image only recently have I banished from my mind) but the driver may well be an enthusiast who should be respected in these parts. If you read this and still think Corvettes are shit, and you don't like them (I don't even think many of you think that), that's fine but I hope after reading this that if you didn't before, that now you respect Corvettes.

I hope you enjoyed reading, I wanted to share that with you guys.

Now, what do you guys say?
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  #2  
Old 05-27-2010, 07:21 PM
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Completely agree and have for a while. You can even toss a bicycle into the back of a Vette without having to disassemble it.
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Old 05-27-2010, 07:30 PM
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it is rough, but meh. i like the Z06.
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Old 05-27-2010, 07:59 PM
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Hey, it isn't Ferrer's sig!
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Old 05-27-2010, 08:08 PM
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Well Kitdy has a point for sure! I have always loved the Vette and it's a vehicle that's easier to possess and maintain better than your average excotic car. The price is an absolute steal let alone the performance and trim levels you can pick from. You may get a small V8 but it packs a punch. Basically, Corvettes a such a good deal and give such good performance is why some, or many of us guys and gals love this car so much.
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Old 05-27-2010, 08:34 PM
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Kitdy you've gone soft. What happened to your militant days of "no leaf springs and pushrods are oudated bulshit!"?

I am, surprisingly, in almost complete agreement with you. The cost argument may not stand up elsewhere, but if I was in the market for a new (I don't know why I would be) sportscar I would easily choose the 'Vette. Among "highbrow" American sportscar drivers there is obviously a stigma against Corvettes. It is viewed as a trashy mid-life schlong-extender and I have had encounters with this sort of stupid driver. However, that isn't really a fair way to judge a car. It's a prejudice thing that's pretty rampant in car circles. For example: I bet most of us to some degree dismiss Japanese cars and the associated tuning culture because some twat in a fart-canned, whistle-tipped, and mechanically-stock Civic blasts down the "Shuto" (aka your street) at 4 in the morning. The guy is an asshole, sure, but that doesn't mean that without proper work his car couldn't be quite cool. Same with the 'Vette. Besides it isn't like any modern Porsche or Ferraroghini driver will be any better-mannered.
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Old 05-27-2010, 11:14 PM
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The Corvette actually got it 6-speed 'box much earlier, in 1989.

And of course I agree and good ol' school rant is coming later today.
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Hey, it isn't Ferrer's sig!
The first time I heard it, it was Revo who said it. I liked it, so I kept mentioning it. And then you got as your signature.
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Old 05-27-2010, 11:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitdy View Post
Why? Does it get bad mileage? No, manual LS3 equipped Vettes get 7.7L/100km or 37 mpg highway and they make 430 horsepower. Are they heavy? No, the base model is 3200 pounds (the V8 R8 for comparison (yes it has AWD I know) is 3400 pounds) and has a 51/49 balance. In fact, as we looked at extensively in another thread, the LS7 is a very light engine and has one of the better power to mass ratios for any naturally aspirated engine out there. Why do people give the Corvette a hard time?
same reason the GTR's and STi's and Honda's get given a lot of shit; the fanboys and to some extent the people that drive them lol.
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Old 05-27-2010, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by clutch-monkey
it is rough, but meh. i like the Z06.
I think that's more power than I'd want in a car that I would like to drive to work every nice summer day ideally. My friend's dad is a urologist and he drives a red (All Corvettes are Red) manual C5 to work every nice day in the summer. If I am gonna shell out for a Corvette, I want to get my money's worth, and I just think that 500+ hp is too extreme for daily use. Hell, the 430 that the LS3 puts out is well more than I need, maybe even want.

A Z06 would be one hell of a weekend warrior though.

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You may get a small V8 but it packs a punch. Basically, Corvettes a such a good deal and give such good performance is why some, or many of us guys and gals love this car so much.
I think you mean big V8. The 6.2L LS3 in the current 'Vette is rather large for a modern V8 engine, and the LS7 is the largest V8 engine in a production car you can buy I would educatedly guess. Audi hovers around 4L for their V8s, as does Ferrari, the big Northstars are 4.4L, the old Modular V8 was 4.6 and 5.4 (5.4 I'd consider large), and the new 5L Mustang is on the verge of a large V8. A 6.2 is very big, and a 7 is monstrous. I dunno even what I'd consider a Cadillac 472/500, potentially gargantuan?

Even the old various 5.7 litres used in C4 and C5 'Vettes were pretty big for a V8, at least when one considers the rest of the world market and the time they were built.

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Originally Posted by f6fhellcat13 View Post
Kitdy you've gone soft. What happened to your militant days of "no leaf springs and pushrods are oudated bulshit!"?
What can I say? My taste in cars has changed hugely over the years - especially since I joined this website and got more interested about them. I educated myself and learned more.

I feel the conclusions I draw now about cars are far more valid then they were when I first joined or even when you and I had leafspring/pushrod that conversation last year.

Now I recognize that the LS7 is an American institution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferrer View Post
The Corvette actually got it 6-speed 'box much earlier, in 1989.
Didn't know that - that is very forward thinking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferrer View Post
And of course I agree and good ol' school rant is coming later today.
Looking forward to it. On this subject or another?

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Originally Posted by clutch-monkey View Post
same reason the GTR's and STi's and Honda's get given a lot of shit; the fanboys and to some extent the people that drive them lol.
I think it's unfair to judge a nameplate based on the people who drive the car.

Judging individual cars modified by their owners and/or previous owners is fair game though - the fart can Civic hatchback is endemic to Toronto and I hate the shit outta those cars which have that modification.
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:17 AM
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A Z06 for me, some of it because of the power and a lot of it because of the styling, the details that set it apart from the regular one make it the modern Corvette, i find ot a very well designed car, the only 'black' spot is the inside.
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Old 05-28-2010, 06:41 AM
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Corvette is special just for the fact that every generation its significantly better than before(and the late model of the same gen is noticeably better than the early one), which means some serious amount of R&D gets put in it, which means money is being spent on it. Thats rare for any car, and rarer for something out of GM's lineup. I always like to joke with my friend that Vette is the only car GM spends money and use real engineers on. If you can spend a ton of money on a car(to make and design, and ultimately sell at a high price), its easier to make a good car. But if you make a ton of these, at relatively low price, and still end up having a good product, thats real good and smart engineering work. The car will always be a shiny beacon in the GM's lineup showing that they can do real competitive product thats desirable, and I think after the whole auto-crisis some of that thinking is starting to trickle down to other cars. Which can only be a good thing...

BTW, reading a description like 505 bhp, dry-sump lubricated V8, 6 piston monobloc caliper brake, aluminum and composite frame and suspension, composite bodyworks, 6 speed manual, 4 sec 0-60, 198mph top speed. It reads like any expensive sports car from Europe, until you get to 24MPG high way, and MSRP at $75K US.....Z06 is a hell of a car...
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Old 05-28-2010, 07:22 AM
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I've always been a big fan of simplicity. I personally think that most of the time simplicity brings us better cars, at least from the petrolhead's point of view, which let's be brutally honest, it's all that matters here. That doesn't mean that sometimes sophistication can give us better cars, but it's usually the sort of engineering that costs a lot to develop.

But let's start with simplicity. These days it's difficult to find a simple car on the market, and this is especially true with mass market cars. There are exceptions like trackday cars or specially focused sportscars, but they aren't the norm and in any case they are not practical to most people, even most enthusiasts. The problem is that the segment that represents enthusiasts is very small indeed and as a result doesn't really mean much in the grand scheme of things of an automotive corporation.

And there's another added problem. There's a group of people, and a rather large one at that I'd say, that like cars but either they don't like them that much or they simply can't understand them. You know who am I talking about, the "Look me! I've got me some flappy paddles! I'm then next Lewis Hamilton!" sort of person. These do even more harm than the average Joe, because since they are larger in number than us, they even take control over what we should decide, the sportier cars, like hot hatchbacks, sportscars and the like. They are the culprits that cars like the Ibiza Cupra are only offered with an automatic gearbox.

Of course there's the general laziness in today's society which doesn't help either. Yes, we want the performance, we want the excitement, we want the sportiness but it shouldn't be too difficult, too complicated, to dangerous. We want everything, but without the effort. Which is why gadgets like 5-way traction controls, active steering or active anti-roll bars are developed. They make us feel like heroes without actually having to be one.

However, as I said in the beginning not all sophistication is necessarily and always bad. There's place where it can be welcomed. For instance, I like the new clever engines with direct fuel injection, variable valve everything and geometrical turbochargers. I'm no engineer, but I'm sure that they are slightly more complex that the good ol' carbed, 2-valve, normally aspirated lumps that used to power cars. Likewise could be said about modern suspension design or exotic new materials that provide strength and lightness at the same time. In my opinion the line is simple, if it doesn't affect the driving experience or it enhances it, it's welcomed, if it detracts from the driving experience I don't want it.

Despite all, though, not everything is negative and if you concentrate really hard you can still find some gems in today's automotive landscape. There's the Corvette, of course, which simple, fun and cheap, but there's also the Mustang. I like the Ford. It's not the last word in modern technology but it is an honest car, it's a bit of fun, a V8, some wheels and off you go. It's cheap and it doesn't care. If you want to drive entry level BMWs are an attractive proposition too. Forget about the options list, just go for the most powerful engine you can afford and all you'll have is a superb chassis, a superb engine, a steering wheel, some pedals and some levers between the seats and you don't really anything else to drive. And of course you can always go for the cheaper end of the market, where you'll find little surprises that are a lot of fun despite their econobox heritage. Cars like the Panda 100HP, the Swift Sport or the Twingo RS.

Maybe old cars were better, I don't know I haven't driven enough of them to judge, but the fact of the matter is that there's still some old school fun to be had with modern cars .My suggestion would be, hurry up and grab them now, before they ruin those too.
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Old 05-28-2010, 08:44 AM
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Well Kitdy, what you just said tells me I need to do more research.
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Old 05-28-2010, 05:06 PM
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Well Kitdy, what you just said tells me I need to do more research.
I think you may have been confused by the whole "small block" thing, which is really left over from the days of muscle cars and manly engines.

That said, the LS7 is incredibly compact for a 7 liter engine. Roughly on par with many of the the smaller displacement V8s using over head cams from europe etc.
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Old 05-28-2010, 05:30 PM
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I think you may have been confused by the whole "small block" thing, which is really left over from the days of muscle cars and manly engines.

That said, the LS7 is incredibly compact for a 7 liter engine. Roughly on par with many of the the smaller displacement V8s using over head cams from europe etc.
The LS7 according to some sources I've found has about 1.1 hp per pound, which compares rather favourably to it's competition as well.

Chevy shoulda ran an ad campaign when the Z06 launched.

Maybe something like this:

The LS7: An American Institution™.
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