DETROIT (AP) - When General Motors engineers and designers started work on the next-generation Corvette, they drew up the usual requirements for the star of American muscle cars.
Killer looks. Big engine. Handles like a race car.
But topping the list was something at odds with the roar of the car's big V-8: Gas mileage.
This undated product image provided by General Motors shows the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
The new Corvette could not be a gas guzzler. Stricter government rules were forcing a leap in fuel economy. If the car burned too much gas, it would trigger fines from regulators and never get built.
"There won't be a Corvette if we don't care about fuel economy," said Tadge Juechter, the car's chief engineer.
But the 2014 Corvette is here, the first all-new version in nine years. The king of American sports cars, driven by astronauts and celebrated in a Prince song, rolled out tonight in Detroit. It will arrive in showrooms this fall.
Getting there was tough for the 1,000-member Corvette team, which gave the car the code name "C7." GM's bankruptcy slowed development twice. With each delay, new safety and gas mileage regulations forced changes. The Corvette team overhauled the car: aluminum replaced steel, super-light rivets held parts together, and the V-8 engine kicked down to four cylinders at highway speeds, saving fuel.
All the changes helped it overcome nine years of government crash safety requirements that could have bloated the car. But even with the lighter materials, the regulations have pushed its weight to a little more than the current base model's 3,200 pounds. Still, it's an engineering achievement. The Corvette is so new that it only shares two parts with the current model.