Design Analysis: Chevrolet Corvette C6 (2005-2013)

January 12, 2013—The sixth generation Corvette was penned while retro-futurist design raged. Chevy was building (or about to build) nostalgia-inspired vehicles such as the SSR and HHR. The Viper had been redesigned and Ford built its own supercar, the GT, a mild redesign of the iconic GT40 that won Le Mans forty years earlier. Naturally, the ‘Vette was going to go for a stroll down memory lane.

As with the previous two generations, aerodynamics remained a serious priority and were key during the design phase. Additionally, the styling had to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The C5 wasn’t a sales failure by any stretch, but it clearly relied on its performance and engineering rather than form. Thus, the challenge of improving the tension-lacking C5 made the job facing stylists simpler.

2005 Chevy Corvette

2005 Chevrolet Corvette (photo: © General Motors)

The real issues facing designers styling the sixth-gen were theme and surfacing, proportions could obviously be left alone. The C5 lacked a strong theme so designers brought back the beltline, which corresponds to the top of the side-cove, connecting the front turn signals and graphics with the rear. In perfect side view the tops of fenders show no matter what, but by rounding them, as on the C5, you lose the gesture when viewing the car any other way (and how often do we see cars in perfect side view, with our eyes level with the fender tops?).

So the C6’s fenders received a sharp radius to define them and give them visual rigidity. This treatment tied the sixth gen to the C2 and C3. These sharp radii were used throughout the new Corvette to great effect, clearly defining surfaces and restoring the tautness that the C5 so clearly lacked. Also, the expansive rear end that existed on the fifth generation was slimmed by decreasing the volume of the surface (in side view) and by expanding the blacked-out area (in rear view).

C6 Vette

2005 Chevrolet Corvette (photo: © General Motors)

Detail-wise, the new Corvette received wheel flats on the fenders, visually expanding the tires and wheels. Also, indicators related to the overall design rather than simply sitting on a visual line (what was up with the side-rear turn signals on the C5? Ovals? Really?! Pretty lazy…). And smaller HID’s gave the ‘Vette exposed headlamps for the first time since 1962.

Overall, the C6 relied and built upon an amalgam of nostalgic Corvette elements. Side-coves and dual exposed headlamps relate to the late C1. Slick, peaked fenders and beltline recall the C2 and C3. Finally, the aerodynamics build upon the legacy of the super-smooth fourth and fifth generations. Wide Open loves the heritage, but frankly, we’re ready for a new, futuristic-looking Corvette. We can't for the C7 reveal, let’s see where Chevy takes America’s sports car… [kiWO]