Chevrolet Corvette: A Survivor With A Split Window?
The future of traditional performance cars may be somewhat in question, given the push towards sustainable transportation, but Corvette fans need not worry. GM has confirmed the car will evolve into a seventh generation, which will also mark the return of the fabled split rear window.
The 1963 Corvette (aka “Sting Ray”) was the only Corvette to feature the split-window. The feature, designed by Larry Shinoda and Bill Mitchel, was an iconic part of the car’s design, but was disliked by Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus Duntov. A one-piece rear window would appear in 1964, and remain in place on all second-generation Corvette coupes.
The split-window recently made a return on the incredible Corvette Stingray concept, which had a starring role in “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” While the Stingray concept will remain just that, Ed Wellburn, GM’s head of global design, told Inside Line the next-generation ‘Vette will use that styling cue.
“That car [Corvette Stingray Concept] is not the next Corvette. But the split window is something that I expect for the next Corvette,” said Welburn. “With the back-up cameras and blind-spot detection systems that we have these days, the visibility issue is much less of a problem.”
GM will also remain faithful to the Corvette’s longstanding heritage as a front-engine/rear-wheel-drive car, quelling the perpetual rumors of a possible mid-engine Corvette. That said, it may not always retain the traditional V-8 underhood. If fuel economy regulations threaten the Corvette’s existence, a hybrid system could possibly be used as a saving grace.
“We will only do a hybrid powertrain if that is what is required to maintain the vehicle,” said Tom Stephens, GM’s vice chairman of product development. “I think we have a pretty good plan right now that probably will require a hybrid in the near term.”
For now, GM will keep the traditional V-8 power in the Corvette. As for smaller engines? Stephens says he doesn’t believe “we need to do a six-cylinder engine in a Corvette at this time.”