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By AARON COLE, for Utah Rides

2013 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
Icon like no other

Audrey Hepburn is an icon.

Ask anyone born before the Reagan administration and they’ll tell you as much. They’ll rattle off lines from “Sabrina,” mention “Roman Holiday,” and inevitably the conversation turns to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

The Chevrolet Corvette is an American icon.

Ask anyone born before the Reagan administration and they’ll rattle off the paint colors available on ‘Vettes from the sixties, the beautiful lines from the 50’s convertibles and the quarter-mile times of the 427s and Stingrays drag racing through their dreams at night.

But nostalgia has a way of distorting reality. The cache of history gets checked at the parking lot of car shows. After that, Holly Golightly better Holly Gofast or she’s not selling cars anymore.

It’s hard to believe that the 2013 Chevrolet Grand Sport is a car that would have been on a designer’s table around the same time the Backstreet Boys were still boys.

The current generation Corvette’s grand hips, grander tires and grander-still powerplant are stuff that engineers who are making cars a decade later still have a tough time figuring out. Consider this: The Grand Sport’s 6.2-liter pushrod V8 produces 430 horsepower — 436 with an optional exhaust like our tester — and 424 ft.-lbs. of torque from a block that’s almost 20 years old. (Never mind that the same engine canvas can paint a more violent version of horsepower in the Z06 Corvette that has horsepower figures reserved for exotics; 638 to be exact.)

Despite the C6’s — fanboy short code for “sixth-generation Corvette” — long-in-the-toothiniess, the 2013 Corvette can certainly hold its own on paper today. The Grand Sport we tested had vitals like 0-60 mph in about 4 seconds, skid pad adhesion around 1g — more from stickier rubber — and a nominal 51/49 weight distribution for when Grecian 5 hits turn five.

(That’s not to say all Corvette owners are old men, they just play that role really well.)

I’ve actually had the pleasure of taking the Grand Sport around a racetrack and I can affirm that the Grand Sport — a factory-fresh, nearly base model — has more than enough power. In fact, the only difference between the Corvette and Corvette Grand Sport models are some wider body parts, bigger tires, breaks and a taller spoiler — no under-the-hood mods whatsoever. Magnetorheological suspension even appears on both. Base-model blues don’t apply to Corvettes.

Thusly, the Grand Sport will in fact ruin one’s confidence that they would ever become a competent racecar driver. Mash on the fun pedal hard enough and the back end will move regardless of how many times you’ve watched “Days of Thunder.” Turn off traction control and it’s easier to splash its rear-end than if you did a cannonball off the 40-meter high dive. To recap:

The Corvette is a serious screamer — regardless of how many facelifts you’ve seen behind their steering wheels in the past. And the outside is a great place to be if you own a Corvette.

The low-slung stance, perfect shape and unmistakable rear end instantly earn more respect than if you had “Karate Champion” tattooed on your forehead.

At stoplights, the Corvette’s roar is audible in 12 time zones. (Even more so with the aforementioned exhaust package.)

Put simply, the Corvette looks like it goes and goes like it looks.

There are the obligatory numbers to mention of course. The base engine achieves gas mileage in the mid-20s, and the base model starts at $49,600 (or $78,485 as tested in Grand Sport Convertible configuration with every optional extra ticked on the price sheet.) I’m guessing both figures matter little to Corvette buyers as those shoppers are likely looking to own a piece of Americana without regard to cost while similarly burning natural resources with similar abandon.

So let’s tackle the beauty mark on this beast: the interior. While the Corvette is every bit the mean machine it looks, the passenger cabin is nearly as unsympathetic as the emotions the exterior sheet metal evoke.

There’s no mistaking that the premise of the Corvette is intact in the 2013 60th anniversary editions: two lawn chairs strapped to a weapon of mass destruction. Aside from stitching on the dash and headrests and aluminum plates on the doorsills, the Corvette shows age on the inside. The windshield heads-up display is an exception to the dated materials on the dash and armrest, and the navigation display in our model is in serious need of a refresh.

Which brings us back to Audrey Hepburn.

It’s hard to forget the classics that the Corvette and Hepburn have offered to audiences and no doubt those performances will inspire generations to follow.

But new faces can pay homage to the past, and the next-generation Corvette is likely be no different.

The 2013 Corvette Grand Sport is unmistakably fun, but it also certainly whets the appetite for new generations to take center stage.

Aaron Cole is a syndicated auto columnist. He knows he’s wrong, but he’d rather hear it from you. Reach him at aaron.m.cole@gmail.com

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