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Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 454: lightweight with a wasp waist

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 454 in the driving report
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D he start is quite unspectacular. A small turn of a dainty key, a little pressure on the accelerator. Somewhere in the front under the hood, the big block is booming. Immediately afterwards it babbles with almost 600 revolutions in idle with the uneven melody of its idiosyncratic firing order.

The Corvette 454 runs 222 km /h

It sounds harmless, not all that different from other US eight-cylinders, which are perhaps two thirds of the displacement and at most that have half the power of the big block. Quartet players of the early seventies, including me, were impressed by the Corvette with 7439 cc and 425 to 465 hp, depending on the quartet. The Corvette in mine was also open and yellow, and it made Ferrari 365 GTB /4 and Lamborghini Miura sink in appreciation. Because against the American, the two Italians only had a chance in the criteria 'rpm' and 'top speed'.

It was not until Fritz Reuter's test in auto motor und sport, issue 22 of 1974, that it moved Sports car world for twelve year olds back on track. The tested and detoxified BigBlock Corvette had just 270 DIN PS, it ran 222 km /h and took 7.5 seconds to reach the hundred mark. But it was a '74 with a polyurethane nose instead of a chrome bumper and a rounded tail instead of a comb edge.

From 1972, the exhaust and safety regulations in the USA gradually began to pull all of the Stingray's teeth. The true low points of the Corvette history were the models from year of construction 75, which were defaced by even more plastic attachments at the bow and stern - with just 190 DIN PS in the basic version rolled around. The big block engine was omitted.

Cautious enthusiasm at the presentation of the new Corvette

From this point of view, the 1970 vintage is just right for a test drive. With the delicate chrome bars on the front and rear and the undisturbed flowing line, it is most similar to the prototype Mako Shark II from 1965, which was the design model for the Corvette series C3 built from 1968 to 1982. And its 7.4 liter engine does not produce 465 hp by far, but the vehicle registration document shows a veritable 287 German DIN kilowatts, i.e. 390 hp, at 4,100 tours.

But the enthusiasm was not at all great when Chevrolet presented the successor to the Corvette Stingray, which had been built since 1963. The testers of the American trade journals were less bothered by the almosttechnology adopted unchanged from its predecessor. It was the shape that aroused her displeasure. The poor workmanship of the first production vehicles also annoyed the trade journalists.

A tester from 'Car and Driver' even found the new Corvette to be 'too little ready to be subjected to a road test'. Parts falling off, operating levers not working or jamming locks are not to be complained about with our 70s Vette, even though it is already 32 years old. After all, it was carefully revised, and the chassis and drive system were extensively overhauled. Only the interior remained in its remarkably well-preserved original condition. Perhaps that is precisely why one can understand the contemporary criticism of cheap plastic in the cockpit and the pitiful amount of space in the almost five meter long sports car so effortlessly.

Little space in the interior of the Corvette

Sitting down isn't quite as difficult as expected. Despite the total length increased by 18 centimeters, the wheelbase remained unchanged at a meager 2,489 millimeters, and thus the available space. But the non-original, smaller steering wheel and the larger adjustment range of the seat back enable a much more comfortable driving position than, for example, in a 63 Stingray the seemingly randomly scattered control buttons in the cockpit: the light switch is hidden somewhere on the left, a button in the middle is responsible for the windscreen wipers, and the air conditioning needs to be operated on the center console. The most important thing, however, is where it belongs. The left hand falls on the short gear lever, crowned by a ball the size of a polished baseball. The clutch can also be found. The only thing that is not so easy is to press it. It defends itself almost as persistently against disengaging as an old Ferrari.

Accelerating is almost superfluous on the Corvette Stingray 454

The first gear engages bony, accelerating is almost superfluous . The Corvette rolls off with only slightly increased idle speed. The servo-assisted steering is playfully easy. However, you need the sensitivity and overview of a tanker captain to pull out of a parking space. The pointed muzzle is hidden from view. You can only see the huge bulges of the fenders on the right and left, and the road seems to disappear under the car ten meters further ahead.

Once in motion, the Corvette begins to eat up the asphalt. The gray band between the bright yellow walls to the right and left of the bonnet is disappearing faster and faster. Bobsleigh pilots should feel similar if the ice channels were yellow. The thrust of the engine is also reminiscent of the merciless gravity when you expose yourself to it on narrow steel runners in a steep ice channel.

Already at 30Miles on the speedometer is shifted to fourth gear without noticeably decreasing the urge to move forward. The exhaust sound gets louder, but remains surprisingly subtle. Stefan von Harten, owner of the Corvette Center Mörfelden and owner of the 454, resisted the temptation to give his yellow jewel a roar. He loves being more sophisticated. That wasn't always common in Corvette circles.

'In the past,' he says against the wind at 50 miles per hour, 'the scene was a bit disreputable. That has changed, and many of today's customers are Sports car collectors who have a couple of Porsches and Ferraris and also an original Corvette. '

The 454 Corvette is a good alternative to European sports cars

You can understand the collectors , because the 454 version in particular is an attractive contrast to contemporary European athletes. The Corvette is calm. She strolls leisurely to herself, occasionally distributes a few bumps with her leaf-sprung hindquarters and basks in the gaze of the mostly hectic drivers hurrying by.

None of them is derogatory, an original, not tinkered Corvette is friendly recorded. You don't necessarily see that a good convertible built in 1970 can cost 35,000 euros. It is far from being an understatement car. And in the open version, it is definitely not a case for the audience shy.

At the time, she was accused of being a show car. An eye-catcher, but 'not quite on the high level of European sports cars in terms of driving characteristics,' as Fritz Reuter noted in auto motor und sport. One can no longer say that to her today. After all, a seven-liter Corvette can still arrows around corners pretty quickly if necessary, if the driver gets the right radius with the super-direct but callous steering. And it can still - depending on the driver's talent - let the rear tire or clutch go up in smoke.

The 70s Corvette is definitely not a soft-washed sports car. After all, a 390 hp 454 reached a top speed of 231 km /h in the 'Road & Track' test of 1970, accelerated to 60 miles in seven seconds and completed the classic American dragster test over the quarter mile in 15 seconds.

The brakes cope well with everyday traffic. The water temperature also remains in the green despite the high outside temperatures. After all, Stefan von Harten has equipped his Corvette with a more powerful radiator network and an electric fan.

That's not the only reason I don't like to give it back. Driving a Corvette is dangerous because it is addicting. Addicted to torque, sound and addicted to that touch of the relaxed American way of life that this car conveys.

Just like this example, it is just right: yellow, open, with the big block engineand manual transmission. Unfortunately it is as good as sold. There must be more quartet players in this country.

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