The seventh-generation C7 Chevy Corvette, produced between the 2014 and 2019 model years, is potentially the very last front-engine, internal-combustion sports car to wear the iconic nameplate. Interestingly, the C7 Corvette was developed with a relatively small $270 million budget, per former GM vice chairman Bob Lutz.
In an interview with The Detroit News and “Car Radio with Henry Payne,” Lutz discussed the development of the C8 Corvette and what led up to its launch, detailing how the C7 Corvette fit into the picture along the way.
As the story goes, GM was in the midst of developing a new mid-engine Corvette for mass production around 2007, with a new platform in the works and a design that was akin to a European exotic, offering up a look that was “smoother” and more “angular” than the design currently in use with the mid-engine C8 Corvette. The whole project was billed at around $900 million, and GM had even approved a mid-engine Cadillac model that was set to be built on the same platform, with the Caddy sports car slated to cradle a supercharged Northstar V8 engine (likely the 4.4L V8 LC3).
However, once GM was facing down bankruptcy, the project was shelved, as were several other programs. As Lutz puts it, the Corvette capital investment budget was reduced to basically “zero,” forcing GM to produce the C6 Corvette for “quite a while longer.”
“And then in the fullness of time when we got refunded, we were able to allocate about $270 million, if memory serves, to doing the C7 [Corvette],” Lutz explains.
Per Lutz, the C7 Corvette was somewhat based on the C6, but offered a longer wheelbase for “better balance.” Lutz also characterizes the C7 Corvette as “similar” to the C6, but “much more capable.”
Interestingly, Lutz also characterizes the C7 as a “placeholder, a holding pattern, if you will,” following the usual model iterations expected of the Corvette, from the base model, to the Z06, to the Grand Sport, to the ZR1. And of course, following the conclusion of the C7, GM ended up releasing the mid-engine C8 Corvette.
All told, the C7 Corvette ended up being quite a good car, especially in light of the relatively small $270 million development budget.