GENEVA -- The Chevrolet Corvette started its 60-year run as a roadster in 1953. Other than the span from 1976 to 1985 and the first year of the C5 in 1997, buyers have always had the option of a folding soft top -- which continues with the 2014 Corvette Stingray.
The latest convertible was introduced today at the Geneva auto show, the same place that the '06 Corvette convertible and the '90 "King of the Hill" Corvette ZR-1 made their world debuts. Chevy chose Geneva for the rollout because the left-hand-drive Stingray will be sold around the world (Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Japan).
For U.S. buyers, the open-top Corvette arrives in showrooms late this year, about three months after the coupe goes on sale. In recent years, about one of every four Corvettes sold was a convertible, although that ratio rose to one in three last year with the addition of the 427.
In keeping with the Stingray's mission of more luxury, all 2014 Corvette convertibles have a power top -- C6 buyers could choose between a manual or power-operated cover. Operation is completely automatic -- the driver no longer needs to twist a handle to release or secure the top of the windshield header. A button on the key fob allows users to raise or lower the top outside the car, and it can be opened or closed at speeds up to 30 mph.
The three-ply fabric top includes a layer of sound-deadening material and a heated glass rear window. The top is designed to minimize the appearance of support bows.
As with all Corvette convertibles built since 1986, the top stores underneath a hard cover behind the seats.
In the 2014 Stingray, the cover rises and moves toward the rear to make room for the top. In a styling touch, panels behind the seat headrests on the hard cover are painted metallic black. The convertible Stingray also keeps the waterfall -- a body-colored panel that covers the gap between the seats and wears the Crossed Flags emblem.
Missing, featurewise, are the air inlets above the rear wheels, since the top mechanism gets in the way.
But the Stingray convertible still uses rear-mounted heat exchangers to cool the automatic transaxle and electronic limited-slip differential in the Z51 Performance package; air for the coolers is scooped up from underneath the car and exits through vents at the edges of the rear fascia.
The Corvette Stingray convertible is equipped with the same powertrain as the coupe: a 6.2-liter V-8 engine with variable valve timing and cylinder cutoff that generates at least 450 hp and 450 pounds-feet of torque. As with the coupe, buyers can select a six-speed automatic or a seven-speed manual transmission.
Chevrolet hasn't released curb weight for the coupe or convertible. It says the horsepower-to-weight ratio is nearly identical for each body style and the frame did not need structural reinforcements for the transition to a convertible.
Nor is there any indication of a price. The 2013 Corvette convertible carries a base price of $55,595, including shipping charges. If the previous advice of Tadge Juechter, the chief engineer, claiming that the Stingray will indeed be affordable for current Corvette buyers holds true, we would guess pricing at something in the low-$60,000 range.