My Little Red Corvette

The best moment came as my wife and I drove down the Taconic State Parkway on a fall Sunday afternoon. We came up over the crest of a hill with a lookout that has a panoramic view of the Hudson Valley west to the Catskill Mountains. I glimpsed a row of vintage Corvettes with their drivers standing next to the cars, chatting. I honked, and as I drove by it was like a ZZ Top video—the entire line-up of six drivers turned in unison and waved.

Those who read my car blogs regularly know that one of my benchmarks is how much attention a new car gets. The Corvette club drivers were just one in a never-ending sequence of turned heads, thumbs-up and big smiles. There was the guy in the gas station who asked if he could take a picture. And there was the New York State trooper, sitting in a car in his speed trap site who had a big grin on his face as I drove by at a stately 58 mph, which barely gets the V8 turning over; he was probably laughing, knowing that I hadn't been going 58 the entire length of the Taconic. I hadn't, but then I also know where almost all the favorite hiding spots are along the entire highway, and I know where to slow down.

The object of everyone's desire? The new 2014 Corvette Stingray, or in Corvette parlance, a C7, which stands for the seventh generation of the car since it's inception in the 1950s. This may be the best Corvette ever built. It answers some of the long-standing critiques of the car that wondered how a world-class sports car could have such an average interior. My fire-engine red Stingray had bright red leather interior with black accents and looked like a top German or Japanese car. For the Corvette purist, the loss of some of its brusqueness may be too much to bear, but the added little touches of comfort, the relatively quiet interior and the not-too-hard ride make for a better day-to-day driving experience.

On the other hand, the 6.2 liter, 455-horsepower V8 doesn't take much coaxing to turn this two-door into a beast. At triple-digit speeds (and I swear I didn't get beyond that magic threshold more than once) there's a feeling that there's a lot more power left to run out. And, there's excellent road feel at all times. My test car had a six-speed, paddle-shifted automatic transmission, and I can see where the 7-speed manual would make the car much more appealing to a driving enthusiast; but trust me, it's a quibble—not a deal breaker—to have the automatic, even though I didn't find the shifting as smooth as some other high-end, paddle-shift systems.

All in all, this is a great sports car value. Even all tricked out like my test car, (the 3LT package with leather, a premium Bose sound system plus a navigation package and special exhaust system) the sticker comes in at about $68,000. There are a lot of higher priced sports cars out there that will be seeing nothing but the red taillights and the four centered, in-line exhaust pipes of the Stingray.

Check out the November/December issue of Cigar Aficionado for Paul Eisenstein's in-depth report on the Stingray, and the ongoing rebound in General Motors business.

And keep your eye out for the Stingray on the highway. You'll know the driver is in automotive heaven.