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Detroit News Article Sunday, November 23, 2003

Ben Kopf for Brenda Priddy & Company / Special to The Detroit News

This photo and others of the 2005 Corvette have surfaced ahead of GM's unveiling. "C6" amenities include more power, fixed headlamps and a revamped interior.



New 'Vette can't outrun prying eyes

Leaked photos fuel anticipation as unveiling of revamped sports legend nears for '05 year

By Ed Garsten / The Detroit News


Photos by Ben Kopf for Brenda Priddy & Company / Special to The Detroit News



The spies have once again foiled General Motors Corp.'s attempt to keep the next Corvette under cover until its official unveiling at January's North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

This week, a new batch of photos of an uncamouflaged dark red 2005 Corvette began surfacing, taking the wraps off early on one of the most anticipated vehicle introductions in recent years.

Dubbed the "C6" -- for sixth generation -- it goes on sale next fall and will replace the current design that has been sold since 1997.

"It still looks like a Corvette, that's the most important thing," said Jim Hall, vice president at consultants AutoPacific in Southfield.

While GM has shared photos of the car with dealers, Corvette loyalists and journalists must wait for its formal public introduction in January.

"The styling is very Ferrari-ish," said Scott Montgomery, sales manager at Les Stanford Chevrolet in Dearborn and one of the biggest Corvette dealers in the nation. "It's a good step up from a car that's already great."

"It's stunning," added Jeff Cauley, owner of Cauley Chevrolet in West Bloomfield.

GM officials have been stingy with details about the latest version of the legendary sports car -- which just turned 50 this year -- preferring to spill performance specs and other details at the auto show. But last August, speaking at a seminar in Traverse City, GM North America president Gary Cowger offered a few hints.

"First, it will be more powerful ... a more athletic stance, longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs," Cowger said. "For the first time since 1962, (it will have) fixed headlamps."

"Unlike the traditional pop-ups, this will allow the use of modern, high technology lighting," Cowger said.

The next Corvette, not surprisingly, has already won raves from GM's top brass.

"I drove the C6 the other day," vice chairman and product chief Bob Lutz told The Detroit News in June. "I wondered idly to myself what the European motoring press is going to come up with as excuses of why they still didn't think it was the best, because it's going to outperform everything."

The biggest improvement, said Hall, is a sorely needed interior upgrade.

"The materials are better so it doesn't feel like it is made of ground up toothbrush handles," Hall said. "It's what the car genuinely needed."

Speculation that the new Corvette will pack a 400-horsepower engine "aren't that far off," said Chevrolet spokesman Tom Wilkinson, but he declined to elaborate, saying the whole story will come out in January.

The new Corvette will be built on the same chassis as the Cadillac XLR, which is also produced at GM's plant in Bowling Green, Ky.

The latest photos, clandestinely snapped during a commercial shoot in San Francisco, reveal a Corvette with a dynamic road stance that is shorter than the current model. It sits on tires mounted on five-spoked rims.

The next Corvette model will also be equipped with OnStar, satellite radio, heated seats and a power top, Montgomery said.

The latest and other, earlier unauthorized photos of the new Corvette -- available on the Internet -- are drawing mixed comments from Corvette fans.

One Corvette enthusiast who posted an opinion on the Internet isn't so sure about the new fixed headlights.

"The headlights look like those on a Honda S2000," the fan wrote, referring to Honda's compact roadster.

"I love the C6 rims," wrote another. "I like thick spokes."

Jerry Morton, who owns several Corvettes and a Corvette restoration business in Pontiac, has mixed emotions about the new model.

"We seem to think the front end looks like a Mitsubishi 3000 GT," Morton said. "But it'll have a lot of horsepower, it'll be a Corvette, it'll sell."

The publicity surrounding the Corvette's 50th birthday in June helped spark new interest in the iconic sports car, but sales have slowed, prompting GM to put cash on its hood at times.

Corvette demand is down 10.8 percent this year, according to Autodata Corp. The sales falloff may be because of prospective customers simply waiting for the new model, say dealers.

Cauley Chevrolet already has a waiting list of about 100 prospects. And several dozen shoppers have signed up at Stanford Chevrolet for dibs on the new model when it arrives next fall. Both Cauley and Montgomery expect the waiting list to grow quickly after the public gets a closer look at the car.

Indeed, Montgomery says he's revved up about selling the latest Corvette in the legendary line.

"We're pumped."


You can reach Ed Garsten at (313) 223-3217 or [email protected].



Copyright © 2003
The Detroit News.
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Good article. 100 folks already on their list for a C6? Oh man, these things are going to be EXPENSIVE when they come out.....:surprised
 

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*One Corvette enthusiast who posted an opinion on the Internet isn't so sure about the new fixed headlights.

"The headlights look like those on a Honda S2000," the fan wrote, referring to Honda's compact roadster.

"I love the C6 rims," wrote another. "I like thick spokes."*

So they are diggin' around on corvette websites. I wonder if those comments are from this forum..
 
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