Spy shot: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette

Courtesy of KGP Photography

Vetting the New 'Vette

Car monikers can get convoluted, but in this case, it's actually pretty straightforward. "C7" simply means this is the seventh Corvette. And the C7 refresh, according to Car and Driver magazine, will probably be one of the most considerable overhauls in the car's history.

The C6, has been around since 2005, aggressively nosing its way through traffic and leaving onlookers with a clear view of its comically wide rear end. And about a year before the C7 is released, the news keeps rolling. The discussion about the C7 has been going on for a long time, which, of course, leads to rumors. Rumors are great for the automakers -- they keep interest high.

And what keeps interest so piqued? After all, new cars are released every year -- some are even arguably more noteworthy than the Corvette. But the numbers help tell the story. In 2011, one of every three sports cars sold in the United States was a Camaro or a Corvette ... even though the current 'Vette was already nearing the end of its life span.

As of September 2012, the Bowling Green, Ky., production plant -- where all Corvettes are built -- is being set up for C7 Corvette production. It's a lot of work -- entire production lines need to be dismantled so old machinery can be pushed out and new tools brought in. It'll take about a year before the first C7s will hit dealership lots -- 2014 models are generally expected to become available, per industry standard, in late 2013. (And if you want to see one in person sooner than that, keep an eye on the car blogs -- chances are, there'll be a fresh-off-the-line production C7 available for viewing at one of the big auto shows, and when that's announced, it'll be big news.) If you've got ownership aspirations, Car and Driver expects prices to stay stable with the current model, starting at about $50,000 for a base-trim C7.

But that's all fact, and while the facts may keep us on track, car fans appear to think the rumors are even more interesting. Spy photographers, who make a living snapping photos of top-secret cars out in the wild (like car paparazzi) are able to provide us with precious glimpses of automotive prototypes we'd never otherwise see. And the popularity of the car blogs ensures that anyone who's interested can see these photos almost instantly ... and then discuss and analyze them to death.

So, thanks to those enterprising industry types, we actually have some idea how the C7 Corvette might look, and what those styling cues might actually mean for its performance.