Since the introduction of the Corvette in 1953, and especially since Zora Arkus Duntov breathed life into the earliest Corvette race cars, the Corvette production models – including the Grand Sport, the Z06, and most-especially the ZR1 – have always shared a special connection to their racetrack counterparts. The lineage of Corvette racers is almost as old as the car itself, and for generations, the “All American Sports Car” has proven itself to be a top contender on the world racing state.
The 2012 model year would continue that tradition. Chevrolet unveiled several new racing variants of the beloved Corvette, including both a newer GT contender as well as a Daytona Prototype class Corvette. These cars, developed in conjunction with their production model counterparts, would further demonstrate the fusion between the engineers designing these cars and the people operating them – both on the road and the racetrack.
In the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT class, Corvette Racing started their season with a highly-modified “wide-body” C6.R ALMS GT Corvette. This car, which shared many of its design cues with its street-legal Z06 counterpart, proved to be an effective contender in the 2012 American Le Mans Series by claiming four victories, six runner-up finishes, 12 podium appearances, two poles and five fastest race laps. What makes this even more impressive is the fact that the 2012 ALMS season was comprised of just ten separate events, meaning that Corvette was one of the winningest and most recognized contenders in their class.
The high level of performance also propelled Corvette Racing to sweep the GT class championships. Corvette Racing won the team title, Chevrolet captured the manufacturer championship, drivers Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner (of the No. 4 Corvette C6.R) won the GT drivers championship, while their fellow teammates Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia (drivers of the No. 3 Corvette C6.R) finished third in the drivers standings, while also securing the Green X GT manufacturer championship for Chevrolet.
Equally exciting was the introduction of the new Corvette Daytona Prototype in late 2011. The DP Corvette, a prototype racing car which paid visual homage to the legendary 1960’s-era Corvette Grand Sport racers, proved itself a serious contender on the track as well. It made its debut run at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and would prove itself throughout the season, winning a total of eight events in regular season racing, including a 1-2 finish in only the DP Corvette’s second outing at the Barber Motorsports Complex in Birmingham, Alabama.
As the old saying goes, “win on Sunday, sell on Monday”, and Chevrolet knew that having winning race cars at the track would translate into increased sales of their production car variants. And while the C6 Corvette was now entering its eighth year of production, the model still continued to turn heads and flare imaginations around the globe.
For the 2012 model year, Chevrolet decided to listen to the public before making changes to the car, even with the certainty that the C6 model was going to be replaced by a seventh-generation Corvette within the next couple of years. Many of the changes made to the 2012 Corvette were in response to the criticisms that GM had received from owners of earlier model-year C6 Corvettes, and almost all of the changes were made to the car’s interior.
The most significant change was the introduction of a new seat design that featured greater driver lateral support. One constant criticism of almost every production Corvette was the lack of adequate bolsters and lateral support during performance driving. The new seat design, which included a wider stance, more dynamic side-bolsters, and a re-designed back and head rest hoped to correct this issue and provide drivers with a seat that could keep them centered at the steering wheel, even when driving their cars around a racetrack.
A new steering wheel was also introduced for the 2012 model year. This new steering wheel featured model-specific badging, streamlined switch trim and wrapped steering wheel spokes. A padded center console and armrests became a standard option on all trim levels. Additionally, a number of optional features were introduced to the Corvette’s interior, including: optional microfiber inserts, a Bose Premium audio system with nine speakers, a custom leather-wrapped interior with contrasting color stitching in red, blue and yellow, and a reconfigured 2LT Trim level package featuring a new technology package. This technology package included a refined heads-up display, navigation system with voice recognition, the Bose premium audio package (included standard with the 2LT package), a one-year subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio, USB iPod connection and input jacks and Bluetooth phone connectivity.
Outwardly, the car remained largely the same, with a couple of minor – though recognizable – exceptions. For 2012, Corvette owners could now select the color of their brake calipers, which came in red, yellow, silver or gray. Additionally, two new color choices – Carslisle Blue Metallic and Carbon Flash metallic – were introduced for the new model year. Besides these two items, the 2012 Corvette was essentially a carry-over from the 2011 model year.
The one significant exception to this was the introduction of a Centennial Edition Corvette, which was available to consumers in all variants of the car, including the base coupe and convertible, as well as the Grand Sport, Z06 and the ZR1. The Centennial Edition came finished exclusively in a Carbon Flash Metallic finish with satin-black graphics. Special badging graphics signifying Chevrolet’s racing history, including an image of Louis Chevrolet on the B-pillars, were added as accents to the cars finish – additional graphics were added to the wheel center caps and on the center on the steering wheel. The historic Corvette crossed flags badge contained a small adaptation. For 2012, the number “100” replaced the traditional fluer-de-lis symbol, but only on cars built with the Centennial Edition package. The wheels were also finished in a satin black, and were sized specifically to the respective Corvette models – 18-inch front and 19-inch rear for the Coupe, Convertible and Grand Sport, and 19-inch front and 20-inch rears for the Z06 and ZR1 models. All models also received red brake calipers.
Moving to the interior of the Centennial Edition Corvette, all models received an ebony leather-wrapped instrument panel and doors which were complimented by red stitching. This same stitching was also added to the steering wheel, seats, center console and shifter. The interior of the Centennial Edition Corvette also featured microfiber suede accents on the seats, steering wheel, shifter and armrests – the same feature that was first introduced on the 2011 Z06 Carbon Limited Edition Corvette a year earlier. All seat headrests included an embossed centennial logo, and all 2012 Centennial Edition models included magnetic selective ride control as part of the package.
While owners and enthusiasts alike were clamoring for information about the next-generation Corvette, the 2012 model year was still well received, despite the limited number of changes made for the new model year. Afterall, the car continued to be powered by the same 6.2 Liter, 430-horsepower LS3 engine that had been introduced in 2008, and this engine continued to provide plenty of power both off the line and on the highway. For enthusiasts looking for more power, the 7.0 Liter, 505-horsepower LS7 found in the Z06 resulted in a 0-60 mph time of just 3.8 seconds and a quarter-mile time of just 11.7 seconds. At the top of scale, the supercharged 6.2 Liter found in the ZR1 and producing a staggering 638 horsepower, laid down even more impressive numbers including a 0-60 mph time of just 3.3 seconds, a quarter mile time of 11.2 seconds at a speed of 130.5 mph, and 1.1g of lateral grip.
DID YOU KNOW: For the 2012 model year, Chevrolet honored the 25th Anniversary of the Callaway Corvette 1987 Twin Turbo model by introducing the Callaway 25th Anniversary Edition Corvette. The Callaway Anniversary Corvettes received the Callaway SC360 supercharger which increased engine performance to an estimated 620 hp. Each of the anniversary cars also received Callaway’s trademark hood as well as exposed carbon fiber rear spoilers and splitters. Reeves Callaway personally signed each of the Corvettes and special badges and decals were included to identify each car as part of the 25th Anniversary series. The option (RPO B2K) added $52,980 to the cost of a specifically packaged 4LT Grand Sport Corvette. Fifteen coupes and eleven convertibles were built with this option during the 2012 model year.
Even with the refinements that had been introduced for the model year, critics of the car continued to identify the 2012 Corvette’s interior as being a “low-rent” option (when compared to similarly priced sports car in its class), but this shortcoming was more than compensated for by the car’s overall drivability, incredible grip in tight corners, and its strong braking system. Additionally, the car was noted as having a comfortable ride, though some critics of the car wish the steering provided more feedback.
Despite any shortcomings, the 2012 Corvette was capable of producing the same performance numbers as any of its European counterparts – including Ferrari, Porsche and BMW – for a fraction of the cost. This realization – along with the Corvette’s compelling performance in both the American Le Mans series as well as on the international racing stage – had elevated the Corvette from a well-intentioned American sports car to a status -both in the United States as well as around the world – of a true supercar. Even with this recognition, General Motors was only a year away from unveiling an entirely new Corvette that would revolutionize the platform beyond any Corvette that had come before it.