If they put a manual crank on the vette that would be unique as well. But they moved on.
The original ZR1 engine was a beautiful thing. It was killed off not because people did not love it, it was killed off because it was being built by a non union shop and the UAW killed it off. It was also rather expensive compared to the old standard pushrods of the day.
The northstar was never really used widely and I do not know it story. But the writing is on the wall. Keeping an inferior head on the corvette will eventually hurt it. They are painted into a box now with the current direction of the tech. They need to break free and get themselves a new direction.
The traditional baby boomer purchaser of the vettes are not going to be around forever.
This is a growing trend. Year after year sales are declining. The amount of people who grew up wanting a vette is shriveling. The now want GTR's and Mustangs, STI's, etc. There is far more competition out there. Other muscle cars of the boomers generation are taking Vette sales as well.
Vette sales are slowing down... year after year. (granted 2008 did not help)
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. As the boomers start to die off, their death grip on marketing demographics is dying with them.
The chance to make the vette a more modern flagship that it should be can become a reality. To capture the next generation of buyers they need to freshen its image.
I think a Vette is a stellar performance car. NO arguing that, but I have NO desire to ever own one. It is an old fat white mans car. That is who drives it. Granted that is a stereotype and generalization with exceptions to the rule, but every stereotype is based in fact somewhere.
From SEMA research:
"...82% are between ages of 40 and 69 (median age being 53)..."
The box they are in is shrinking. Fuel economy is getting tighter. They cannot keep making 6+ liter cars. You can only gear it down so much before it becomes impractical.
You can only remove weight so far before it becomes stripped out and raw, and 53 year old men do not usually like stripped out and raw.
They need to use a smaller displacement DOHC V8 engine, with direct injection that gets equal power but far better mpg. Then they can give it a true performance 6 speed and drop the killer overdrives on 5th and 6th. I think the C6 is a great size, but if they could shrink it a bit more that would be great, but not really sure where they can take off any size. They have that 2 golf bag rule I think.
Most of all, they need to look at what other people do in 50K dollar cars and make an interior bespoke to the Vette. Make it a special place.