BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The all-new, seventh-generation 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is on its way to dealers.General Motors in late September began the first shipments of the new ’Vette coupes from its plant in Bowling Green, having amassed about 1,000 of them since production began a few weeks ago. GM has been making America’s sports car at the Bowling Green plant exclusively for the past 32 years."It’s an amazing sight to see the transporters filled with Stingrays heading to customers in all corners of the country," plant manager Dave Tatman said as the trucks were being loaded for their first trips to market.Only coupes are being made for now; convertibles will begin production in December.Coupe prices begin at $51,995, including freight, while the convertibles will start at $56,995.Early next year, the plant along Interstate 65 about 60 miles north of Nashville, Tenn., also will begin making some of the engines for the iconic sports cars as GM moves its GM Performance Build Center to Bowling Green from Wixom, Mich. It will produce high-performance engines for Corvette specialty models.GM makes the standard V-8 engines for the Corvette at a plant in Tonawanda, N.Y.GM spent $131 million to upgrade the plant for production of the newest Corvettes. Of that, $52 million was spent on a new body shop to make the new aluminum frame for the redesigned Corvette. This is the first time the cars’ frames are being produced in Bowling Green. The body shop uses a new computer-controlled laser welding process to assemble the frames. Each frame is 99 pounds lighter than the steel frame on the 2013 Corvette, and 57 percent stiffer.Under the hood is the most-powerful standard Corvette engine ever, a 6.2-liter V-8 with 455 horsepower and 460 foot-pounds of torque (460 horsepower and 465 foot-pounds with the optional performance exhaust system).With this engine, the coupe can go from zero-60 mph in just 3.8 seconds, run the quarter-mile in 12 seconds at 119 mph, and stop from 60 mph in just 107 feet, GM said. Available is either a six-speed automatic or seven-speed manual transmission.EPA fuel-economy ratings are 17 mpg city/29 highway, the best among all sports cars now on the market (except electric), GM says.The relocation of the Performance Build Center is expected to bring more visitors to the Bowling Green plant, as the center offers buyers of specialty models the opportunity to help build the engines that go into the cars they order. Plant tours are offered, as well.The National Corvette Museum, just across the highway from the plant, draws more than 100,000 visitors a year. Some Corvette buyers choose to pick up their vehicles at the plant, and most end up taking tours of the plant and the museum.Wixom’s Performance Build Center has been producing hand-built 6.2- and 7.0-liter V-8s for such models as the Corvette Grand Sport Coupe manual, Z06 and top-of-the-line ZR1 models.GM brought back the Stingray name on the 2014 Corvette, the first use of that designation since the 1976 model. The Sting Ray name was used on Corvette models from 1963-67, and then the one-word version, Stingray, appeared on 1969-76 models.The performance engines are built by a single technician, using high-tech manufacturing aids such as a computerized torque wrench that can tighten 16 bolts simultaneously to their exact specifications, GM said.Customers can help build their own engines – doing as little or as much as they want, including doing it all, the automaker said. When a customer is doing the build, the technician there to supervise, so all of the performance engines – even the customer-built ones -- are covered by the 100,000-mile GM warranty. They also are thoroughly tested before being installed in the cars.About 20 percent of all Corvette models sold last year were equipped with specialty engines. GM delivered just over 14,000 Corvettes in 2012. Sale for 2013, through September, have totaled just 7,830 – down 26 percent – as many consumers wait for the new model to appear. The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at email@example.com .