Automobile Names Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter 2014 Man of the Year
Tadge Juechter has poured his heart and soul into the 2014 Corvette Stingray.
He didn’t have to spend several minutes of his valuable time talking about the Corvette to me and my son at Road Atlanta late last year as the Stingray emblem was revealed to the media.
But he did.
His enthusiasm for the car that he would soon be able to reveal to the world was clearly evident to us that day.
It was also evident to the editors at Automobile Magazine, who have just named Juechter their Man of the Year for 2014 – on the heels of naming his Stingray the Automobile of the Year, too.
“Make no mistake, the C7 is Juechter’s machine,” Automobile writes. “Only the fifth chief engineer in the Corvette’s sixty-one-year history, he’s likely to go down in the books as the one who got it right.”
While some might argue that Juechter and his team were just fixing the Corvette and making it what it should have been all along, Automobile Magazine is quick to point out that they “did far more than finally bolt in decent seats: the C7 is a top-to-bottom reimagining of what the Corvette could and should be.”
Juechter has worked almost entirely with Corvettes the past 20 years, so he’s been around for the latter stages of the C4 and the entire C5 and C6 runs.
That experience in the trenches was helpful during the design of the C7, he jokes, “because you know where a lot of the land mines are.”
Still, his leadership that resulted in obviously the best Corvette ever – and perhaps even one of the best cars ever made – cannot be overlooked during a time when General Motors itself was nearly dead.
“People probably think that everybody at GM rallies around the Corvette, but it’s not like that,” Juechter says. “The corporation is structured around mainstream vehicles, and the Corvette is idiosyncratic, which makes some people uncomfortable. Getting the right support is a constant negotiation.”
Juechter obviously knows how to work with people and get the most out of them.
The universally praised and much, much improved interior of the C7 is proof of that. “We put the interior designers on the track so they could understand what it’s like to live in a 1-g environment, to have skin pushing on hard objects,” he explains.
Like a protective father, Juechter can defend his “baby” when necessary.
Take, for example, the time in 2010 when former Automobile Magazine technical editor Don Sherman predicted that the C7 would have a “probable turbocharged V6,” Juechter, angrily waving a copy of the magazine, was quick to tell the Corvette faithful at a public gathering: “Don’t believe any of what you read — most of it will be wrong.”
That kind of reverence for the Corvette means enthusiasts can rest easy knowing that their car is in good hands.