There are all manner of rumors concerning the next-generation ‘C7’ Chevrolet Corvette, with stories ranging from the possibility of a mid-engined platform to all-wheel drive powertrains and even the arrival of a dual-clutch transmission. Although there isn’t much substance to any of these rumors, we can confirm that for the first time in the Corvette’s history design studies for the latest model are being accepted from outside the U.S.

General Motors design studios from across the globe have been tasked with creating a potential design for the C7 Corvette, which is expected to bow in around late 2012.

The information comes directly from GM's vice president of global design, Ed Welburn, who described some of the creations as being “absolutely phenomenal”.

According to Welburn, the Corvette suffers from an image problem among younger buyers and in international markets--and to a certain degree, he’s right. Data from influential market research firm J.D. Power and Associates shows that the current average age of a Corvette buyer is 54. It doesn’t help that sales of the current C6 model last year were also down 48 percent on levels just one year prior.

GM's solution is to create a car that’s more youthful and sophisticated in appearance. Some key areas Welburn hopes to address with the new design is the Corvette’s proportions, which he wants to make smaller and more aggressive, as well as its interior, which in the current model is universally slammed for poor quality. Welburn has also previously revealed that the new Corvette will get a split rear window along with some other vintage styling cues--expect some influences from the 50th Anniversary Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Concept pictured above.

For more information on the C7 Chevrolet Corvette, including a computer-generated preview rendering of the car, head over to

[Automotive News, sub req’d]