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Heavy expectations for the Vette

The Chevrolet Corvette has a long history in American sports care lore. A looong history. Colloquially known as the Vette, back in 1953 General Motors executives were seeking a name for what would be a new sports car design. A gentleman by the name of Myron Scott, who at the time was working in the public relations department, suggested the name Corvette, after a small warship present at the time. The name had a nice ring to it and inner GM brass went with it.

The first Vette model made its debut at a show entitled GM Motorama and rolled out to the public soon thereafter. During the first year only 300 convertibles were produced and two years later that number popped to 700. A whole new model was revealed in 1956 which gave way to eventual power windows, a hydraulically operated power convertible top and four speed manual transmission. The second-generation Vette (1963 – 1967) really made a splash with their iconic Sting Ray model. This car made it to the Hollywood Big Screen multiple times and was a massive hit.

By 1968 the third generation Vette was on its way, and that iteration lasted until roughly 1982. Originally patterned after the Mako Shark II concept car, this car looked like none other than a shark. The engine and the chassis components were carried over from the previous generation, but the exterior and interior were all new. The fourth generation (1984 – 1996) gave rise to the first major redesign since 1963. The body lengthened a bit and the 1992 Vette is a real head-turner.

Getting into the 2000s, GM kept tinkering and the company maintained solid U.S. market share (23.5%) as of 2007. But here is where it gets a bit odd. Ever since that time GM market share has decreased, arriving to just 16.7% as of last year. And this is despite solid profitability and arguably its best lineup in the history of GM.

Corvette enthusiasts are hoping the new Corvette will be the boost GM is seeking to get it back to a respectable market share. An example from another manufacturer that GM would love to replicate is the Hyundai Sonata. In its sixth generation, the Sonata improved with edgy styling and a real upper-class interior which all equated to the Sonata becoming a monster hit. The Volvo XC90 also followed the same trajectory and turned the Swedish manufacturer around.   

To make a long story, short, this is what GM is seeking here with the new Vette. It will be the eighth generation, and some are thinking this might be it for the Vette. But who knows, if it hits like the Sonata or XC90, perhaps the eighth time around is the charm!

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