If nothing else, we’ve been way impressed by the staggering amount of design and engineering that went into the ’14 Corvette. That goes double for the cabin, which went through a complete redo—twice.

Here’s how it all went down. As with the development of the exterior, covered in our initial article in this series on the Stingray, a request went out worldwide to all of GM’s design studios for a global sketch blitz. By the fall of 2009, hundreds of concept renderings poured in, and from these the design team, headed up by Helen Emsley (formerly of GM’s color and trim studio), pared them down to just a few compelling themes. Each of these in turn was made into a half-scale model for further review.

“It’s a very iterative process,” explains Ryan Vaughan, Lead Interior Designer, referring to the repeating rounds of analysis and refinement. Trained at the Pratt Institute in New York City, with more than a dozen years of experience working on a variety of GM cars, Vaughan’s formative years included some direct contact with a midyear.

“My father has had a 1966 Corvette big-block convertible since before I was born,” Vaughan notes. “The beauty and history of that car had a huge influence on me as a kid, so to be lucky enough to work on creating a new performance cars is a huge thrill.”

While all this background gave him a running head start on the new Stingray interior, it still wouldn’t be a cake walk. Even after the design team meticulously worked through several stages of refinement, something still wasn’t quite right with the treatment.

When it was presented to Ed Welburn, GM Vice President of Global Design, right before the end of 2009, the designers figured they could all kick back and enjoy their holiday vacation, knowing they had made some significant headway. Well, Welburn wasn’t satisfied. “He told us, ‘You can do better—start over,’” Vaughan recalls with a wince.

Undeterred, the designers forged ahead. After a tepid celebration of the New Year, they redoubled their efforts on the interior, and by spring of 2010, yet another one had been painstakingly crafted. This time, Welburn approved. His unstinting demand for excellence was evidently all to the good, as the innovations and layout of the cabin are remarkable, as we’ll see.

“It’s more expressive, dynamic—and driver oriented” –Ryan Vaughan

How does it differ from previous ones? “It’s more expressive, dynamic—and driver oriented,” Vaughan enthuses. The latter aspect is a recurring and dominant theme. Before elaborating on this emphasis, we should take a brief look back at the missteps of earlier Corvette interiors for some stark comparisons.

Owners of even average stature will likely acknowledge the cramped cockpit and over-large steering wheel of the C1. Nor can anyone dispute that the ’63 model’s split window impeded rear visibility (even as it became a collector’s item). And of course, a common occurrence on all midyear Sting Rays was the driver “beaking” the right-front corner, due to the lack of visibility there. The C3 suffered from an array of problems, the interior being the least of them, but one special edition in 1979 featured a relentlessly hideous monochrome that extended the disco-era upholstery colors onto the door panels and dashboard.

We could go on and on about the C4’s winking electronic instrument panel, or the C5’s leaky seals and frail seats. More recently, complaints have been voiced about the so-so quality of the C6’s interior, especially the lack of lateral support in the seats.

In the new Corvette Stingray, however, all of these cabin complaints are now just a distant—albeit painful—memory. Indeed, Tadge Juechter (Chief Engineer/Vehicle Line Director for Corvette) feels that the new interior design is the most upgraded area of the car. Looking at it overall, the layout steps away from the symmetrical dual-cockpit setup seen on the ’63 Sting Ray, and instead creates a more driver-oriented environment. Getting more specific, the passenger side has separate climate controls, and the lack of a mechanical parking- brake handle creates more console room in the shifter area.