Corvette Executive Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter retiring this summer

Ignore the titles, what matters is that five men have been synonymous with shepherding new Chevrolet Corvettes to market during the American icon's 71 years: Zora Arkus-Duntov (1967-1975), Dave McLellan (1975-1992), Dave Hill (1992-2006), Tom Wallace (2006-2008), and Tadge Juechter (2006-2023). Juechter, the man when it came to any media outlet or Corvette fan trying to understand the last three generations of Corvette engineering, philosophy, and aspirations, is retiring this summer. When he departs GM's Renaissance Center in a few months, it will be the end of a 47-year career at the company.

The note about titles is important because it points to how Juechter's influence reaches beyond what's on his business card. The five men listed above are generally called Corvette chief engineers, often as part of the statement that Corvette has only had five chief engineers, which is mostly true. Harley Earl, the legendary designer who had the original idea for the Corvette, led a team of designers working with Maurice Olley as head of chassis development and Ed Cole, father of the small block V8, as head of powertrain. Arkus-Duntov didn't join GM until May 1953 — invited by Olley, hired by Cole, after writing GM a letter about how to fulfill the slow-selling Corvette's potential — and then only as an assistant chief engineer, reporting to Olley, who reported to Cole. Arkus-Duntov got promoted to the role of director of high performance vehicles for Chevrolet in 1957 and was instrumental in developing the C2, but he didn't earn the title of Corvette chief engineer until 1967. Before that year, the title of Corvette chief engineer didn't exist, making Duntov the first.

Take Wallace, who became the Corvette's vehicle line executive and chief engineer on January 1, 2006, but only held the engineer role for seven months — and Dave Hill's Wikipedia page doesn't even give Wallace credit for that short stint. In July of 2006, GM promoted Juechter from being assistant chief engineer of the Corvette to chief engineer for the Corvette and the related Cadillac XLR, reporting to vehicle line executive Wallace. Wallace's tenure as the man in charge of then-current and future Corvette programs got cut short by GM's bankruptcy in 2008. Afterward, Juechter took on the roles of vehicle line director and executive chief engineer, two jobs it appears he held until around the mid 2010s.

Ed Piatek got promoted into the role of Corvette chief engineer and designer for C8 Corvette development. What's most bizarre about his tenure is that it's almost been scrubbed from the record despite his repeated appearances supporting the C8's launch. The Detroit Free Press spoke to him at length about the C8 and so did a Hagerty podcast. But search for him on YouTube, the Corvette-related result is a single eight-minute video with a one-minute Piatek interview that doesn't mention his name in the lengthy description. A 10-minute interview with The Torque Show has been deleted. The only other reliable mentions are when he verified EPA fuel economy figures for the C8 and when he got moved to GM's EV division. All of this happened in 2020. Before and after that year, he's a ghost online, and the only hint of LinkedIn profile we can find for him is more like an "X Files" evidence exhibit — we only think it's him because the Other Similar Profiles box shows another former exec in GM's EV division.

After Piatek's move, GM promoted Josh Holder to the role of Corvette chief engineer. Holder's been with GM since 1999, joined the Corvette program in 2002, and remains Corvette chief engineer today. But even after Holder's promotion, Juechter was still being called Corvette chief engineer in headlines (his LinkedIn page shows "Chief Engineer/Vehicle Line Director" titles), and we'd bet a month's salary, a donut, and a box of Jake stickers no one outside of dedicated Corvette fans is familiar with Holder or Piatek. That's no slight on the other two men, either, both of whom have done their parts to make sure the Corvette keeps getting greater. It's only to show how big Juechter's shadow has been inside the Corvette program.

It's not clear who will be chosen to succeed Juechter in his one or two roles; GM said it would make an announcement this summer. Based on where the past execs have come from, Holder's in the prime spot for succession, but anything can happen.

As for Juechter, football provides the best analogy for the coming end of this era. When L.A. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald announced his retirement in March, the common cry was, "Give that man his Hall of Fame jacket right now" instead of making him wait the mandatory five years before HOF selection. Same for Juechter — you might as well hang his plaque in the Corvette Hall of Fame the same day he hands in his GM keys.

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