2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray: Full Circle
October 7, 2014
Back when I was in high school I had the opportunity to drive a relative's Corvette. It was a 1996 with the LT4 motor. The last of the C4s. For a few minutes, I was able to escape the reality of the 1994 Toyota Corolla that served me as basic transportation at the time. It was an unforgettable experience, the details of which I will not go into here, even though the statute of limitations has long since expired.
The LT4 is gone, and my family member misses it terribly. Unless a wave of amnesia hits the office and everybody forgets we have to sell our 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, one of my favorite cars in our long-term fleet is about to depart. There was no better way to say goodbye than by bringing the Stingray back to where my relationship with Corvettes began.
A round-trip excursion from my house to Palm Desert and back would be my longest trip ever in the 'Vette. Most of my experiences with the car were bouncing between gears one and two during stop-and-go-traffic, flitting around the Santa Monica mountains, and around town cruising. I'd never been on a real highway trip. That meant I begrudgingly activated the heretical "Eco" mode for the first time to see how the sports car rolled along with half its cylinders firing.
Good news: using Eco mode is the only way to travel on long, flat roads. If you're paying close enough attention, you can feel the V8 turn into a V4 and vice versa, but it's mostly invisible. Eco and Touring modes prevent the engine from making its hellscorching roar that is so fun in Sport mode and above, but nobody wants to set the cruise control and have the engine blaring for hours on end. The Corvette does fine GT work when the situation calls for it.
We arrived in Palm Springs, where the Corvette received a warm welcome. Aesthetically, its Lime Rock Green paint and black/Kalahari (brown) interior color combo were salivated over, and things only got better when the engine was fired up. Click it into Sport mode, nail the throttle, and you'll know why the $1,195 optional dual-mode exhaust is a must-have.
We drove around for a little while, and my passenger got to relive the Corvette experience, if just for a little while. Corvettes have come a long way in 18 years. He exclaimed the C7 was easily ten times the car he used to own.
As I left Palm Springs, I reflected on the green rocket I was fortunate enough to pilot on that desert road back home. The entire weekend was me inanely repeating, "I'm going to really miss this car when we sell it" to my very patient girlfriend, but the praise is earned. If you desire an affordable sports car that is adept around the track at Lime Rock Park as it is calm and reserved on a long road trip, the Corvette will leave you wanting for nothing.
And it's still an attention grabber. The C7 has been on sale for a year now, and I still get thumbs up from other drivers and requests for pictures (with me out of frame, of course). I even had a pedestrian miming a tear falling from his face as he walked in front of the car.
So I'll say it again, because it bears repeating. I'm going to miss the Stingray, for its beauty, performance, and the fact that we will not have any cars equipped with a manual trans once it's gone. Goodbye, Green Buddy. It's been a blast.
Cameron Rogers, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 26,580 miles