We revealed the first accurate renderings of the 2014 Corvette on Jalopnik well over a year before the official unveiling at last month’s Detroit Auto Show. Some pundits called it the "auto enthusiast scoop of the decade." I just call it a really great story. Although I can't tell you how we got that “scoop” — here's the really insider-y story of how one General Motors exec finally admitted to me that we had it.
Our story and renderings of the new Corvette went live in mid-November of 2011. Other than a few discussions the day before letting them know we were dropping a big story the next day, I didn’t have a single conversation with GM’s PR team until the LA Auto Show later that month. Which was sad, because, considering the drubbing we were getting over the images from other publications, Corvette fan-boys, and even from GM itself, I kind of wanted to crow a little bit about the story.
But throughout the show, it seemed my ego was never going to be stroked the way I wanted it to. GM’s PR team was spinning up a storm telling any journalists either that they refused to comment on future product – or that they’d have to wait until when the new Corvette was unveiled to find out if our renderings were the real deal.
Chevy’s head of PR, Mike Albano, wouldn’t even talk to me – instead just chuckling, shaking his head, and muttering a mantra of “it’s not it” every time I tried to catch him to talk. The PR apparatchik had their message down – and they weren’t straying from it.
Hell, GM Design chief Ed Welburn even jumped into the spin zone. When Examiner.com’s Jim Cherry asked him “Yes or no on the Jalopnik illustrations?” Welburn replied with one word, “No.”
It was pretty much the response I expected to get considering we’d just dropped the cloth on the most important enthusiast vehicle GM's got in its stable — well over a year ahead of the official reveal.
Obviously, I knew our renderings were spot on. So I kind of found all of this spin a bit ridiculous. But even as the LA Auto Show press days were winding down, my hope that I’d get someone from GM to talk to me about the story was dwindling.
So when Justin Hyde (ex-Washington, DC bureau chief for the Detroit Free Press, former senior editor for Jalopnik, and current editor of Motoramic over on Yahoo! Autos) and I were invited to grab dinner with Joel Ewanick, former head of marketing for GM and Mark Reuss, president of GM, North America, I assumed that the slew of GM PR folks at the table would mean I wouldn’t get a damn thing out of them either.
With heavy heart, Justin and I quietly sat down at the end of the table at the ESPN Zone. Before I could even say hello, the entire table quiets down as Ewanick turns to me with a huge shit-eating grin on his face, and asks, “OK, so how the hell did you get the Corvette?”
As Albano and the other PR folks shook their heads in defeat, I just smiled. Victory.
Ray Wert is the former Editor-in-Chief of Jalopnik and now runs Tiny Toy Car, a custom content studio that brings automakers, agencies, and publishers together to tell cool car stories. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.