2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427 “60th Anniversary”
Ready to Rumble
Story and images by Russell Purcell
Sixty years is quite the milestone for any product, let alone an automobile, but the Chevrolet Corvette still soldiers on as America’s favorite sports car. To mark the occasion, the product planners at General Motors have once again decided to offer an anniversary edition of the venerable Corvette.
Why the name?
Under the car’s cut carbon fiber hood resides a truly awe-inspiring power plant- the Chevrolet LS7 V-8. This imposing engine is 7.0 L (427 cu.in) in displacement and represents the most powerful small-block ever built by Chevrolet. It features large-displacement cylinders and a host of lightweight components to help it achieve optimal horsepower and torque in a compact package. It is not however, unique to this car. Under the bright red engine covers you will find that this is the same hand-built engine used in the Corvette Z06, and it produces 505 hp and 470 pound feet of torque, if not more. The Corvette 427 also gets its six-speed manual gearbox from the Z06 parts bin, but this is a good thing, as it is a durable and very well sorted design. Other shared equipment includes the beefy rear axle, some of the carbon fiber body panels (includes the hood, fenders, and floor panels), and of course, the seemingly magical Magnetic Ride Control Suspension.
It would be a slight to the nostalgic Corvette 427 nameplate should you surmise that it is just a Z06 with the roof lopped off. The 427 will remain distinct from its stable mates as Chevrolet has never offered a Z06 in convertible form, and as this car represents the final variant of the sixth generation (C6) of the Corvette, it is destined to remain a special car that will be produced in very limited numbers.
The Corvette 427 60th Anniversary car is only available in Arctic white, but it also features twin silver tape stripes that run the length of the vehicle. In fact the stripe effect even carries through the blue canvas used to create the cars tidy convertible top. The car will feature a full complement of 60th anniversary badges including one centrally located between the taillights, on the front fenders, and of course, on the hood.
The majority of the car styling elements are also derived from the Corvette Z06 coupe, including the air intakes for brake cooling and the more aggressive bodywork. Lifting the forward swinging hood reveals its underside which features unpainted carbon fiber. Use of the space age material reminds us of the special care taken to reduce this car’s weight, increase the overall strength of its body, and help deliver a high-performance driving experience.
I have to admit that I finally succumbed to the visual appeal and impressive performance of the Corvette with the arrival of the C6 in 2005. The car was lean, mean and very modern looking, at least on the outside. Whenever the cars were compared to rival offerings the Corvette models seemed to fall short when discussion turned to the design of the car’s interior. Constant refinement has lead to improvements in fit-and-finish and the use of higher quality materials, but I still find the switchgear to be rather chunky and the overall effect is a disjointed hodgepodge of shapes and textures.
The twin bucket seats in my test vehicle were swathed in tight-fitting leather hides died a subtle bluish gray. They were very firm and supportive and proved comfortable enough for long-range touring. The top of the dashboard, the center and outboard armrests, and some of the door panels also featured this attractive leather treatment.
The car was lean, mean and very modern looking, at least on the outside.
The three-spoke steering wheel is wrapped in Alcantara suede which made it easy to grip when I got down to business on the twisty bits of road that populated my test route during my journey. Suede boot covers were fitted to the short throw shifter lever and the emergency brake handle which added a touch of class to the environment.
An abundance of logos can be found in the passenger cabin. The bodywork that flows between the two seats features the 60th anniversary badge, as does the steering wheel and both headrests. Not to be forgotten, the 427 logo is featured just forward of the windshield mounted along both sides of the hood’s central plateau, as well as embroidered on the black floor mats.
My car also featured a Bose-engineered sound system which I am sure sounded fabulous, but there is no way it was going to compete for my attention with the playlist created by the LS7 and a high-performance exhaust system. Navigation and the latest generation of Chevrolet’s heads-up display topped the car’s list of electronic goodies.
I stand 6’2″ tall and am a large framed individual so it would be safe to say that I am at the outer limits with regards to finding a comfortable driving position in this car. The truth of the matter is that due to its two-passenger layout there is very little rearward travel for the seats so individuals with longer legs may have to adapt their seating position to accommodate the cars limited cockpit space. Visibility is also an issue for taller folk when the roof is in place as I found myself having to lean forward to duck down so that I could see traffic lights and signage at intersections. Visibility with the top up is also hindered by wide rear pillars, but this just gives you a valid excuse to drop the top and take the long route to wherever you are going.
The Corvette 427 features a soft canvas top that is affixed to the top of the windshield frame via a simple, manually operated twist lever. Once the locking device is free of the windshield the top is able to quickly, and relatively quietly, retract at the touch of a button. When stowed away the top is safely tucked beneath an integrated hard tonneau cover which gives the car a very clean and uncluttered look. It also helps protect the canvas material from damage caused by wind turbulence, intense exposure to the sun, dirt and unnecessary wear-and-tear.
With the top in place the passenger compartment proved exceptionally well protected from wind and road noise, as well as from the elements. However, there is no way this simple canvas structure would be able to isolate the driver and passenger from the tremendous noise generated by the car’s enormous engine and raucous exhaust. And this is a good thing. The rumble associated with the operation of this car reminded me of the times I have been lucky enough to stand trackside as a racing photographer at American Le Mans series events, separated from the factory Pratt & Miller Corvette race machines by a narrow crash barrier. The rumble of these V8 powered monsters would give me goose bumps and made the hair on my arms and neck stand at attention. The thunderous roar of the 427 Corvette had a similar effect on my follicles as its mechanical melody bounced off the rock walls and long tunnels of the Fraser Canyon while I explored the exhilarating performance potential of this stunning car during a 1200 km late-summer road adventure.
When stowed away the top is safely tucked beneath an integrated hard tonneau cover which gives the car a very clean and uncluttered look.
I must admit that I spent the majority of my time with the car operating with the top down as my brief fling with the car coincided with a period of glorious weather here in British Columbia. In fact, it was so warm that I was able to drive late into the night and even at relatively high elevations due to the near-perfect climatic conditions, and the fact that the cars heating and ventilation system, seat warmers, and cockpit design provide occupants with a very comfortable space within which they are free to enjoy the many sights and sounds that come with riding in an open top automobile.
The driving experience
The 2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427 has been engineered to increase the level of excitement (the fun factor) experienced by the driver by immersing them in an environment that has been designed to bombard the senses with an onslaught of sights, sounds, and gravitational forces. The final product represents one of the most capable sports machines on the road today. As a result, it is important that the driver give the car all of his or her attention.
The prodigious power and brutal acceleration of the 427 could put inexperienced drivers in highly dangerous or uncomfortable situations in short order. Overaggressive launches may cause the rear tires to break free and produce a contrail of expensive rubber smoke that would be the envy of many NHRA racers. This car also gathers speed so quickly that before you know it you are exceeding the posted limit and need to rein in the ponies before you either run out of road, or lose your license.
The Corvette 427 comes equipped with Chevrolet’s innovative Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) suspension which allows the driver to adjust the suspension dampening with the simple twist of a console-mounted dial. The MRC system is able to change the viscosity of the damping fluid to best suit the driver’s needs whether the plan is to cruise in comfort or carve perfect apexes on a secluded mountain road. The transition is immediate and apparent, unlike the traditional systems used by other makers.
The car also features one of the most advanced traction control systems to ever be offered on a consumer-based, road going vehicle. This system will do its best to help the driver keep the car planted to the road. It even features a track ready competition mode that will allow you to better hone your driving skills should you wish to enroll in a performance driving school or attend a lapping day at your local track.
The Corvette 427 has the legs to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in a mere 3.8 seconds and is said to have a terminal speed just north of 300 kilometres per hour. The car is only available fitted with six-speed manual transmission, but oh what a transmission it is! It features short throws and with each selection the driver is rewarded with the positive feedback of a metallic “clink” as the lever strikes each stop in the gate.
The Corvette 427 has the legs to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in a mere 3.8 seconds
I knew going into my test of this car that it would deliver an incredibly visceral driving experience as the potent Z06 provides the mechanical foundation for this car, but I didn’t expect the 427 to be so stable and rattle free. Remember, this is a convertible, so a little chassis flex or body wobble is expected, especially in a mega-motored car wrapped in lightweight bodywork. It is obvious that the engineering and design teams did their homework when it came time to beef up the frame for this application and steering is as precise and razor-sharp as that of any car I have ever tested. In fact, I so thoroughly enjoyed my time behind the wheel of this car that it proved to be the highlight of my motoring year.
The enormous Michelin tires do an excellent job of gripping the tarmac, but I would suggest you select to travel in the passing lane rather than the travel lane due to the fact that the combination of the car’s wide track and extra-wide tires seem to lead the car to get trapped in the deep grooves left behind in the road surface by years of heavy truck traffic.
Corvette fanatics will be pleased by the arrival of the 427 as they will now have the opportunity to purchase what is basically the Z06 in convertible form. However, those looking to put one in their garage will have to act quickly as this car is going to be a limited production vehicle due to the fact that it is an anniversary special and the fact that the C7 is set to arrive for model year 2014.
Technical specifications: 2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427 “60th Anniversary”
Base price (MSRP): $114,190
Type: 2 passenger convertible
Layout: front engine/rear-wheel drive
Engine: 7.0-litre V-8
Horsepower: 505 @ 6,300 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.): 470 @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Brakes (Front/rear): disc/disc
Weight: 1,522 kg (3,355 lb.)
Fuel economy (L/100km): City- 14.3 (20 mpg); Hwy- 8.3 (34 mpg)