About once every decade—give or take a few years—Chevrolet releases a drastically redesigned Corvette. The seventh such redesign, called the C7, will be unveiled on January 13th of next year at the Detroit Autoshow. Chevrolet has yet to release any decent teaser shots beyond the razzle-dazzle camouflaged tester cars, but they did release a newly redesigned Corvette crossed flag identity over the weekend.
If you know anything about Corvettes, they are considered the equal of some of the best European sports cars at a fraction of the price. One aspect of the cars that is decidedly not up to the comparison, is the interior. If you listen to any auto industry insiders they'll tell you that is going to be corrected on the new 'Vette along with a decidedly more angular and aerodynamic exterior. The new identity is said to reflect that design aesthetic. Perhaps, portend is a better word.
The New Corvette Identity Introduction:
The Disguised 2014 Chevrolet Corvette:
Here's a little history behind the Corvette mark from Corvette Auction Center. "The original Corvette logo (Figure 1) was designed by Robert Bartholomew, an interior designer at Chevrolet in 1953. This emblem was destined to appear on the 1953 Corvette prototype which was introduced to the public for the first time at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel in January of 1953. It had crossing staffs with the checkered flag on the right hand side, and the American flag on the left hand side. However, four days before the Corvette was to go on display at the show, Chevrolet management decided that it should be redesigned. The problem with the proposed emblem was that it included the American flag which is illegal to use on a commercial product. Right before the show, redesigned emblems were attached to the front hood and steering wheel of the Corvette. The new emblem contained the checkered flag on the right side as well as the white racing flag, red Chevrolet bow-tie symbol and a fleur-de-lis."
The Short-Lived 1953 American Flag Corvette Logo:
First things first, I did not know that it was illegal to use the American flag on a commercial product. I don't know if this is still true, however I do wish it was illegal to use the American flag on advertising, especially during Labor, Memorial, Fourth of July, Christmas... you get the idea.
Overall, the Corvette emblem has always been a rather handsome mark, or at least easily identifiable among its peers. But one has to wonder where the use of the fleur-de-lis came from on, given the vehicle's American icon status. Turns out the designers were looking to honor their namesake, the Louis Chevrolet family, with the sports car's identity. They came up empty after a long search and decided on the French symbol for peace and purity as a last resort. Purity seems right for a car meant to handle well going fast.
1953 Corvette Identity:
1962 Corvette identity:
Gone are the words and the inset background, now the flags are the key forms.
1972 Corvette Identity:
At this point the circle is dropped while the flags are given more movement. I'm not sure I think the angle of the flags is ideal, but the result is now minimized to the essential parts still present in the modern design.
1984 Corvette Identity:
These are not the best years for the sports car. Inside and out these years produce some of my least favorite models and their badges are designed to match. Look at that thing. Kinda miserable don't you think? This was the first year the checkered flag lived on the left-hand side, I wish I knew the rationale for this change.
1997 Corvette identity:
Now here's when things started looking up. The flags are brought back as well as the circle from years past. Even though we see a lot of faux gloss and dimension, the identity feels right again. The cars themselves take a leap forward with this model.
2005 Corvette Logo:
This is perhaps the first generation of the modern Corvette that could compete on a world-class level (save the cheap interior, but Chevy had to save some money somewhere to sell them at the price level they wanted.) The crossed flags evolved into a V badge, in homage to what the cars are most often called. These are Vettes plain and simple. This doesn't feel too forced and I like the result—but I would expect the Chevrolet bow tie and fleur-de-lis to be better executed at this point. I see a stalk of corn.
2014 Corvette Identity:
Now, this is what was introduced over the weekend. We see a more angled V to match the new car's creases. The Chevy bow tie takes more prominence over the French symbol on the right. It appears to me that they have embraced the V even more on this version to good effect. (There was an early version of this type of setup all the way back in 1963 on the Corvette Stingray. See below for that reference.) The troubling thing is the amount of shine, gradient and fake metallic lighting, but it's hard to judge these automotive looks in a printed or digital medium. They need to be seen on the actual car, where they really do shine and reflect the light. How it sits on the hood and matches (or not) the design cues of the car is more important than anything and it will be a few months before we can judge that. For now, it appears as a more confident upgrade. I hope the same can be said for the new ride. There is a website where you can follow along as Chevy releases more and more of the design (car and identity), one13thirteen, named after the release date.
1963 Original V Identity as seen on a Stringray: (Note the flipped flags)
Chevy's Press Release Video: