One of the biggest names in the sports car genre is the Chevrolet Corvette. Starting as a concept car way back in 1953, the brand has cranked out a number of models through the years. Starting with the convertible concept in GM's Motorama exhibit at the New York Auto Show, it garnered major attention, causing Chevy to put the Corvette into production.
Designed by Harley J. Earl (known for his custom work on celebrity cars and the creation of the 1950 Buick LeSabre), this first production run was known as the Corvette's "solid axle" model. There were 300 hand-built convertibles that rolled off the line, all in white, with red interiors and a black soft top. This was the first American sports car with a body made entirely out of fiberglass.
These first 'Vettes didn't sell very well, due to a lack of performance compared to their European competition. But by 1955, Chevy had revamped the design and improved the engine. This turning point in the brand gave the car it's strong reputation, making it a consistent seller over the years.
Now in its 7th generation, we car enthusiasts have been graced with the aggressive beauty that is the C7 Stingray. Corvettes had become recognized as THE car for men over 55, the "successful plumber's car," as it were. But with the C7, Chevy attempted to appeal to a younger crowd. Corvette's marketing guru, John Fitzpatrick, spoke of the latest, aspirational sports car saying, "nobody wants to be seen driving an old man's car, but everybody wants to be seen driving a young man's car."
In 2018, we're looking to the future with the new, mid-engine C8. Here are 20 things we're excited about with the newest Corvette.
20 Brake Potential
In May of this year we got a closer look at the Zora Corvette. These images gave away more details of the car then we had seen in the past. One of the features we were eyeballing is the wheels. The importance of brakes and a mid-engine design go hand in hand.
In these newer photos, there are some unusual rear brakes. There appear to be a single set of hefty calipers on the front wheels, and two sets of calipers on the rear rotors. Dual caliber brakes provide multiple benefits including increased clamp strength on the rotors, double the brake pad contact area, and brake cooling potential. But there is the downside of added weight, which is never appreciated in a high-performance car.
19 Twin Turbo Power
Spy footage from just a few months ago gave us a good visual and audio sample of the mid-engine C8. If you have yet to see the video, initially published by Corvette Blogger, take a look yourself...or rather a listen.
Rumors have swirled about the new Corvette's engine and what will be attached to it. This new video leads us to believe the turbo rumor may be true.
The CAD renderings that were leaked prior did show the engine with twin turbos. The video, shot by YouTube user, Big Ersk, shows him chasing the car for several miles, until the C8 floors it, letting out that distinctive whine as the driver attempts to evade the camera.
18 Mid-Engine C8 Speculation
Thanks to video footage of the C8 on a race track in Europe, fans of the car listened intently to the sound escaping the exhaust. Thankfully, we can all rest easy. It seems Chevrolet is intent on maintaining a V8 under the hood...or elsewhere...of the new Zora Corvette.
Late last year, info was released that Chevy was engineering a new type of V8 for the car, a 6.2 liter LT5 DOHC V8. The aluminum engine, with dual overhead cam, is expected to show off with over 600 horsepower.
This engine isn't a guarantee, but when it was passed on for the ZR1, we have to assume it's being developed for the highly anticipated mid-engine.
17 Automatic Only
Every single Corvette over the years has offered a manual transmission, but recent talks say the C8 could be the one to break the mold. Rumor has it that the new Zora Corvette will utilize a Tremec’s TR-9007 DCT. The 7-speed transmission puts out 664 lb-ft of torque, plenty to man-handle the power of the C8's probable engine.
But why will the company choose to offer only an automatic option? It basically comes down to the dollar. In an effort to be more cost-effective, Chevy will likely sell only auto versions of the C8. This also curtails the complexity of production, much to our dismay.
16 She’s Got The Look
Spy shots and videos of the new C8 Corvette have built up anticipation, and car enthusiasts are about to burst. Because of the recently released footage, most of what we know is based on exterior visuals. And the look of the new C8 is a sight to behold.
There has been a radical redesign of the body, giving it new proportions like we've never seen in a Corvette. The elongated rear-end is one of the most noticeable changes. Further, the brand has also rid itself of the traditional sloped rear-glass, and opted for a more Ferarri-style vertical window. Form follows function, and we can see where that affected the classic look of the Corvette.
15 Wallets Ready
When you consider the combination of performance, luxury and reputation, Corvette offers incredible value. No other car on the market right now can compete with the performance per dollar. But what can we expect to spend to have one of the C8's parked in our garage?
Fresh out of the showroom, the mid-engine sports car will be valued at around $80,000. Still an arm and a leg (and maybe a first-born child) for the average consumer, but reasonable compared to its competition.
In the grand scheme of things, this price tag falls right in line with Corvette's other models. The 2019 Stingray pulls in over $55,000, while the ZR1 is over double that at $120,000.
14 Active Aero
One of the exciting features we're looking forward to is the new C8's use of active aerodynamics. The 1986 Porsche 959 was the first production car to use active aero. Since then, we've seen this modern technology on everything from the Ferrari LaFerrari, to the Koenigsegg Regera, and the Bugatti Chiron. These aerodynamic features are becoming increasingly prevalent, and the Zora Corvette is no exception.
A patent application filed by GM in 2017 was published with references to an adjustable spoiler, rear diffuser and shutter, and front splitter. All of these additions will assist the new Corvette with improved efficiency, downforce and drag.
13 Lift System Advantages
Corvettes aren't just used to kick butt at Nuremberg. The car's primary use, as we've already established, is for wealthy, middle-aged or older men on their daily commutes. The implementation of a front axle lift system will make this Corvette more practical and drivable for daily driving.
Similar lift systems are already in use by a number of top performing sports cars, including a custom C6RS Corvette by Pratt & Miller Engineering.
Although we've seen the C8 tested against the Porsche 911 Turbo S, the lift on the C8 is said to be a superior design. In some spy shots, we've seen the results of these instantaneous adaptations to ride height.
12 Weight Distribution Pros & Cons
The mid-engine will undeniably provide better traction and launch capability. But even with the highly tuned performance of the C7, many Corvette owners are not capable of driving it to its limits (let alone the C8 with all its potential).
Weight distribution will play a huge factor in how consumers perceive the performance success. And if the C8 is a successful seller, the design style could filter down the product line in all future models.
Can you imagine a world where all Corvettes are mid-engine? Mid-engine cars do use their weight more effectively, and the benefits seem to outweigh the negatives. But Chevy tried for a rear engine design in the past...and failed miserably (more on the Corvair later).
11 Going Green
Electric cars are the wave of the future, and Chevy is not about to miss an opportunity to participate with a modern sports car with hybrid option. While we're still waiting on the C8 to hit the market, the Corvette maker has already eluded to an electric-powered engine, soon after the release of the C8.
The C8 is intended to have a gas powered engine operating the rear end of the car, while a front-mounted electric engine will power the front. This combination of power is expected to give the new C8 Corvette over 1000 horsepower. Just let that sink in...
10 More Than A Supercar...A C8 Hypercar
Insane horsepower, unattainable price tags, and lap types beyond anything car history has seen. These are the ingredients that make up the world of supercars. The term "supercar" primarily refers to cars with top of the line performance, state of the art technology and race-worthy designs.
But the new C8 is pushing the boundary of supercars, and dipping its toe into the world of hypercars.
Hypercars are classified as the top 1% of supercars. While the 550 horsepower Ford GT makes for a great supercar, it just can't compete with a clear-cut hypercar, such as the 1500 horsepower Bugatti Chiron. But with Chevy's plan to use a hybrid engine in the C8, the traditional sports car could be boosted into hypercar territory.
9 But What About The C7?
Corvettes have been around for 7 generations, and the most recent Corvette, the C7 ZR1, has already been in production for 4 years. The C7 Stingray has had a successful run so far, ranking near the top in sales with other top-selling Corvettes. Only 2 years into production, the Stingray came in second in Consumer Reports' "Most Satisfying Vehicles." So what of the desirable car in the coming roaring '20s when the new C8 Corvette is released?
Word on the street is that the C7 will continue to be built up to 2 years after the C8 hits the market. And even more exciting, the C7 will see a redesign in 2021. Lucky for us that's just more Corvettes to choose from!
8 GM Mole
With the impending release of the C8 Corvette, we have to wonder where all the information, leaked photos and video of the car are coming from. In an effort to build anticipation, many suspect that GM is participating in sharing juicy tidbits about the car.
In video footage of the car on a track test, spy photographers captured the Corvette engineers attempting to cover up the exposed car (but maybe that was a publicity stunt).
We also saw a leaked photo taken by Corvette dealer, Mike Davenport out of Kentucky, when he saw the car in person a year ago. And in 2017, CAD images of the engine were released. If these are real, someone at GM might be trying to keep the car as relevant as possible.
7 C8 VS. Ford GT
Recent evidence proves that the new Zora 'Vette is being designed to compete with the best of the best. To challenge, head to head, the top-tier cars of the world. But how does the C8 stack up against a similar vehicle? Corvettes have been punching above their weight class for years, but the Ford GT is the comparable foe to beat.
In order to get a Ford GT, you have to submit an application and work your way up a wait-list. So already the C8 gets a point for accessibility. The mid-engine design will put them on a level playing field, but one's a V6 and one's a proposed V8, making performance top priority. The C8's dual overhead cam will be a game changer, with precision valve timing and increased operational speed.
6 Ergonomic Wheel
More spy shots of the C8 from a testing day in Colorado caught a clearer glimpse through the windows and into the cockpit. With the Stingray's release came a traditionally round steering wheel with paddles, to adjust the rev-matching feature. But the super secret C8 appears to abandon the circular wheel design, and opts for a more oblong style.
The flat-topped steering wheel, we have to assume, will be balanced with a flat bottom half as well. This design isn't just to give the car a more race-track approved appearance, but also to improve function for the driver.
This type of wheel offers more adjustability in the tilt, providing a better ergonomic position. It also gives the driver more leg space for heel-toe braking and downshifting.
5 Corvair Catastrophe
The Chevy Corvair was a groundbreaking car in the 50s and 60s. Unfortunately it took several redesigns to hit its stride, and it wasn't well-received overall. But we have to take the car into consideration when looking at the C8 'Vette, because this was Chevy's only other attempt at non-traditional engine placement in a production car.
So why was the Corvair a failure? By the early 1960s, Chevy offered the Monza package on over half of the Corvairs, giving drivers the first turbocharged car off a production line. The car had great horsepower, awesome handling, and was budget-friendly. Safety and oversteer became the two big negatives that (literally) put the car into a tailspin failure. With the advances in technology and safety that we have today, this hopefully won't be a problem for the C8.
4 Heavyweight C8
The Corvette legacy has a reputation for their ability to combine low weight with high horsepower, giving the car optimal performance on the road. The new C8 will be no different, with a combination of fiberglass and carbon fiber, and a goal of weight reduction.
According to Car and Driver, the mid-engine Corvette will follow suit of past designs, with body panels made primarily of fiberglass. These panels will be placed over a light-weight aluminum frame.
Since the C5 Corvette, we've seen more use of carbon fiber on Vette's, and the new one will be no different. The car is expected to weigh a little over 3500 pounds, but with improved horsepower, this weight shouldn't be a problem.
3 Patience Is A Virtue
Chevrolet has built numerous mid-engine concept cars throughout the years, but most were halted before they ever went into production. Now we are seeing glimpses and hearing rumors of Chevrolet's worst kept secret, the mid-engine Corvette. But the big question is, when will we actually be able to get our hands on it?
The absolute soonest you will get your hands on a set of C8 keys is 2020. The car is rumored to attend the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
This means it won't be in dealership lots until the end of 2019, as a 2020 model. Holding out on releasing this newest Corvette is a smart decision by the brand, so as not to steal the thunder of the recently released ZR1.
2 The Zora History
Known as the "Father of the Corvette," Zora Arkus-Duntov was an engineer from Belgium who worked with Chevrolet to improve the engine of the 1953 concept. His goal was to take the car from a submissive sports car to a force to be reckoned with.
After putting a much needed V8 under the car's hood, he began considering the advantages of an engine placed behind the driver. In 1959 Zora designed the prototype XP-719. It never came to fruition on the market, but you could say the new mid-engine Corvette has been brewing for 6 decades. When this C8 finally goes up for sale, we think Zora would be proud to see his work completed.
1 Trim Level Package
Corvettes come with an extensive variety of trim level packages, making them a step above other sports cars in customizing capabilities from the factory. But what can we expect for options on the new mid-engine C8? Only time will tell on the hard and fast details of what we can get, but we do know a few things.
The Bowling Green Assembly plant in Kentucky is the birthplace of all current Corvettes. But this build location was shut down in 2017 to revamp their production line. The changes give the manufacturer new flexibility and capabilities in producing a wider range of options on their cars. And going from the new mid-engine offering, on up to a Zora hybrid, has us guessing there will be a huge range of choices in between.
Sources: history.com, hagerty.com, jalopnik.com, corvsport.com