From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120719/OPINION03/207190365#ixzz215ddCIoVA boy straddled his bicycle at the curb, mouth open, gazing at the car stopped at the light.
Wally and the Beaver may be small screen memories from a bygone era when the Chevrolet Corvette was new, but the genuine awe generated by the pulse-quickening sight, sound and seduction of a ‘Vette hasn’t diminished in 60 years.
The 2013 anniversary edition 427 Corvette convertible is a worthy commemoration of that heritage.
Its aerodynamic and traction features come from the 638-horsepower ZR1 — the ultimate power Corvette.
It takes the 505-horsepower, 7-liter V-8, and feather-weight carbon fiber body parts from the Z06 — the lightest, best balanced Corvette.
Although the 427 Corvette can’t use the aluminum frame of its supercar big brothers — that’s because removing the top requires a stiffer, heavier steel frame to compensate for the loss of structural rigidity — the end product is perhaps the most satisfying Corvette.
Top down, sun shining, this car is made to cruise Woodward Avenue. Capable of 3.8 second 0-to-60 mph bursts and a top speed of 198 mph, it is the most powerful convertible Corvette ever. I got my share of challenges at the lights.
But this Corvette is also surprisingly comfortable and quiet. The magnetic fluid adjustable dampers allow for a supple ride that predictively transforms to more aggressive suspension settings based on computer analysis of throttle, wheel movement and spin, and steering wheel positions. It knows what you are asking for.
That’s also when the sound changes. Stomp on the gas, and a bypass valve opens the two center pipes in the stack of four-chromed exhaust outlets under the Corvette’s massive backside. The idle already is a sub-woofer-like basement bass note, but under heavy acceleration, at about 3,500 rpm, a guttural blast comes from somewhere deep in the beast. It’s race car loud and comes on in a way that is reminiscent of the second set of jets opening in an old two-stage, four-barrel carburetor. Back off and you’ll hear a satisfying burble and pop.
This dual personality keeps the car comfortable. It doesn’t wear on you. It isn’t constantly calling you out. You can slip in and out of your neighborhood without notice. Or you can wake them all any time you want to summon the Kraken.
The significance of the anniversary edition’s 427-cubic-inch engine dates back to 1966.
To many, the 435-horsepower 427 big block V-8 in the 1969 ZL1 Corvette represents the zenith of Chevy’s contribution to world-class sports cars. By 1971, the dark ages had begun for muscle cars with government emission regulations reducing horsepower. It would be more than three decades before emission technology breakthroughs allowed the creation of the LS7, a small block engine. I first drove a 427 anniversary Corvette in the spring, back before I was allowed to talk about it. That one was Arctic white with gray stripes and a blue top and blue leather interior. The well-appointed crystal red metallic tint-coat version I drove for this review — with a $91,135 price tag — had a black leather interior with red stitching and all the options. Corvette 60th anniversary logos are on the front and rear of the car and stitched into the seats and floor mats.
Inside, the car looks a little dated, which is typical for performance vehicles; buyers are making decisions based on show and go, not the latest high-tech gadgets. Still, voice-controlled navigation and telecommunications, a 6.5-inch color touch screen, keyless push button start, and nine-speaker Bose audio are all standard.
The 427 got bigger bolstered seat backs and cushions for better support. The optional leather seats have microfiber suede inserts to help hold you in place.
There also is a standard heads up display (HUD) that projects onto the windshield in front of the driver the current speed, tachometer readout, and turning and acceleration Gs.
I took it grocery shopping. Who knew it even had a trunk? The hatch isn’t very deep, but it spans the entire width of the broad rear end. It also happens to be the exact size of one golf bag or two pieces of carry-on luggage.
Does this make me look fat?
The rear end feels planted all the time because there are huge 13-inch-wide Michelin tires on 20-inch alloy wheels under Corvette’s big hips. Up front are two 111/2-inch-wide tires on 19-inch alloy wheels. Replacing just the rears alone will cost $1,200.
The 427 comes only with a manual six-speed transmission mounted in the back to provide a 50/50 front to rear balance of the car’s 3,355 pounds.
The aluminum engine has lightweight titanium internal parts and a race car-like 10 quart capacity dry-sump oiling system. An interesting buyer’s option is the Corvette Build Experience, which allows you to hand assemble your own engine at GM’s Performance Build Center in Wixom.
The next-generation C7 Corvettes to be introduced next year as 2014 models will likely get smaller displacement V-8 engines.
They will probably have similar horsepower and better fuel economy through additions like electric-power steering, and technology that shuts down cylinders at cruise speeds and turns the engine off when stopped. Rumors persist about the possibility of a potent yet fuel-efficient turbocharged V-6 engine, but insiders won’t comment.
Eventually, increasingly stringent government fuel consumption and pollution standards will force changes — perhaps powerful gas-electric dual drive systems.
Until then, I was told, you can count on Corvettes continuing to look and sound very Corvette-like.
But if you want a Corvette convertible with a good old-fashioned ground-pounding V-8 that’s this big, time is running out.
2013 Anniversary Edition 427 Corvette
Price: $76,900, includes delivery charges ($91,135 as tested)
Type: Two door, two passenger, convertible, rear-wheel-drive, sports car
Engine: 7-liter (427-cubic-inch), direct injected, V-8 cylinder
Power: 505-horsepower; 470-pound-feet of torque
Transmission: Six-speed manual
EPA gas mileage: 15 city / 24 highway
Exterior: Low, wide and fast. People smile when you drive by.
Interior: Dated and difficult to climb into. You wear a Corvette.
Performance: Near supercar power, speed and handling.
Pros: Owning or at least driving one is standard issue for the All-American bucket list.
Cons: By the time you can afford one, it’s gotten hard to climb in and out.