BRADENTON -- When the fog of smoke cleared, literally, there stood a shimmering seven-speed manual shift 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, black with 460 horsepower, chrome aluminum wheels, gleaming Camaro-style rear lights and a $56,910 price tag on its window.
As they have done for every new-generation Corvette since the fiberglass car came out in 1953, family owned Cox Chevrolet celebrated receiving a new generation Corvette with a bash at its dealership.
Decades ago, Cox covered new Corvettes in its downtown Bradenton showroom until the big reveal but recently has taken to driving the new generation models out of the rear service garage of its Cortez Road dealership, said co-owner Kris Cox.
The crowd of 300 ate up the showmanship for the seventh generation Thursday.
Many cheered as the newest Corvette, hailed by the automotive press as a "world class machine" and "more of a true sports car than any Corvette in history" made its official Bradenton debut through the smoke. "It was a proud American moment," said Corvette enthusiast Dwight Brown, who traveled from Venice to attend the free public party and press conference, which featured free soda and finger food as well as short speeches by Kris Cox and others. "You could feel the excitement of the crowd. People were happy to be here and welcome a new Corvette to the proud history of Corvette."
Cox told the audience, while they snapped away with their cell phones, that Chevrolet insisted he come to Las Vegas to drive the new Corvette.
"Exhilarating," Cox said about driving the car. "It makes you a better driver. I can't drive that well but the car has rev-match technology so it can heel-and-toe for you. It handles better and has more power than the other generations. I really feel it's a two-generation jump, not one."
A parade of older Corvette generations, courtesy of Gulf Coast Corvette Club, came through the fog first before the new car was engulfed by the spectators.
"I'm salivating," said R.J. Munson, president of Gulf Coast Corvette Club, about the new Corvette.
"I really liked getting in and out," said Jimmy Blakely who has a broken ankle and was under doctor's orders to be home in bed.
"The interior feels like a cockpit," said Mary Morsham, owner of a fifth-generation 2000 red 'Vette convertible.
"I'll take one," said Bill Mergens, well-known Bradenton real estate agent and 1969 Camaro owner.
"Awesome car," said Bradenton's Cal and Sue Stoddard, owner of a 2006 Corvette.
The black Corvette Cox displayed Thursday is one of 32 new Corvettes scheduled to arrive at the dealership in the next eight months, Cox said.
"I would say they can be purchased starting from about $55,000, depending on how they are equipped," Cox said.
The 'Vette Cox showed off came with a 6.2 liter V-8 engine and, like all 2014 Corvettes, has cylinder deactivation, enabling the driver to run on just four cylinders if desired to save fuel.
The 2014 Corvette has a rating of 17 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway, according to its manufacturer's sticker.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or through twitter at@richarddymond.