I saw one……………….. a saw a new C8 Corvette for myself. The mid engine corvette might be the most rumored car over the last 60 years………. that’s how long a mid engine Corvette has been talked about. The official unveiling of C8 was in July 2019, with actual new car deliveries planned for later in the year. We then had the GM strike in the fall which has had an effect on production. Deliveries actually started showing up at dealerships this month (April 2020). They are all sold!! Dealerships are only taking orders for 2021 models.
Will the exotic car world ever be the same? Should I include this on mt exotic car reviews? I have said before that an exotic car is expensive, rare, has high performance and is impractical. How does the new C8 match up here? It is not expensive from an exotic car stand point. The base price is $59,950, while the average cost of most C8’s will be around $80,000. A comparable Ferrari, Lamborghini or McClaren will run you close to $300,000. A C8 is not that rare. The production for the C8 for 2020 was to be around 40,000 (the GM strike will reduce that number). Ferrari will produce between 8,000 to 10,000 cars per year with the mid engine Ferrari 488 accounting for about half of that production at approx 4,000 t0 5,000. They will make around 3,000 of the Lamborghini Huracan. The C8 is not impracticable, it has two trunks and is comfortable for a long distance road trip. The one thing the C8 corvette retains from the exotic car world is performance, with a 0-60 time in 2.8 seconds it can preform with any of them.
It will be interesting to see over the next couple of years if the C8 will change the exotic car world forever…………. how valuable will the rarity of a Ferrari be when the C8 Corvette out preforms it……………………
A Little History
There is a lot of history…………….more than I will cover here. Zora Arkus-Duntov was an engineer who joined General Motors in 1953 after seeing the “Motorama” Corvette on display in New York City. He found the car visually superb, but was disappointed with what was underneath. Many consider Arkus-Duntov the father of the Corvette, though he did not create the car. After seeing the car at the Motorama he reached out to General Motors with a plan to improve the car. After being hired he quickly became the Head of Performance for Corvette. It was 1957 when Arkus-Duntov suggested for the first time the idea of a mid engine corvette.
Arkus-Duntov set about transforming the Corvette from an under powered showboat to a performance car that could compete with the best from Europe. In 1955, the anemic 150-hp six-cylinder was replaced by the 265-cubic-inch V-8, the original version of the legendary small-block. In 1957, its displacement was increased to 283 cubic inches, and GM’s first application of mechanical fuel injection helped it attain the magic number of 1 hp per cubic inch of displacement.
Despite these improvements, Arkus-Duntov was aware of the limitations by the Corvette’s front-engine, rear-wheel-drive setup. In 1960, he introduced the CERV (Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle), a test vehicle with a mid-engine V-8, rear-wheel drive, and an open-wheel body. CERV I evolved into CERV II in 1964, again with a mid-engine V-8 and all-wheel drive, separate automatic transmissions and torque converters for each end of the engine, and enclosed-wheel bodywork. Arkus-Duntov tested the CERV II at GM’s Milford Proving Ground and recorded a zero-to-60-mph time of 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 214.01 mph………those numbers are amazingly close to the new C8. In the end, GM said no to the idea.
Taking no to for an answer was never Arkus-Duntov’s strong suit. This time he took the front-wheel-drive setup from the Oldsmobile Toronado/Cadillac Eldorado, placed it amidships, and located the V-8 engine transversely, with the automatic transmission on one side and the differential on the other. All-wheel drive could be made possible in the future by adding a front differential and a driveshaft. The car, under code name XP-882, debuted at the 1970 New York auto show; in the hurry to prepare the car for the show, there wasn’t time to come up with a name, so it was simply labeled “Corvette prototype.” Despite the sensation it created, GM once again shot down the idea, deciding the car would be too expensive to produce and would not offer any gains in performance versus the front-engined Corvette.
In all there have been no fewer than 9 mid engine prototype corvettes created over the years. Though they all led to some type of mechanical improvement for the Corvette such as the rear independent suspension on the CERV II which made it to production on the C2 Corvette, the mid engine Corvette was something Arkus-Duntov never witnessed.
Arkus-Duntov retired in 1975. Following his retirement Arkus-Duntov remained active in the Corvette community. He passed away in Detroit on April 21, 1996, and his ashes were entombed at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Pulitzer Prize winning columnist George Will wrote in his obituary that “if… you do not mourn his passing, you are not a good American”.
Despite Duntov’s work on the CERV I and CERV II and many mid-engine design studies, the idea of a mid-engine Corvette was not approved by GM management until 2019, (it was, of course approved before 2019 but GM never acknowledged it until they unveiled it 2019,) with the announcement of the release of the eighth generation C8 Corvette.
The Chevrolet Corvette (C8) is the eighth generation of the Corvette. It is the first mid-engine Corvette since the model’s introduction in 1953. The C8 was announced in April 2019, and the coupe made its official debut on July 18, 2019, during a media event at the Kennedy Space Center (referencing its association with NASA) to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. The convertible made its debut in October 2019, alongside the racing version, the C8.R. Production officially began on February 3, 2020, delayed by the 2019, General Motors strike.
The C8 retains some design elements found on the C7, but the majority of the exterior has been completely overhauled. The engine’s new location mandated a stronger focus on aerodynamics and cooling; large side scoops house air intakes, and the rear features smaller vents below the taillights. As a result of the switch to a mid-engine layout, the passenger compartment has been shifted forward by 16.5 inches. The cockpit has been designed to be driver-centric, with numerous controls mounted on the center console as well as utilizing a new hexagonal steering wheel. A special Z button (a homage to the Z06, ZR1, Z51 and of course Zora Arkus-Duntov ) is also mounted on the steering wheel; this can quickly activate customized performance settings. Models equipped with the available magnetorheological dampers will also offer adjustable suspension settings.
The C8 uses a new version of the LS based GM small-block engine derived from the C7 Stingray’s LT1, now called the LT2. The new naturally aspirated V8 is rated at 490 hp at 6,450 rpm and 465 lb⋅ft of torque at 5,150 rpm, an improvement of 40 hp and 10 lb⋅ft over the outgoing C7 Corvette Stingray. The engine uses dry sump lubrication system.
The optional Z51 performance package adds a sport exhaust system to the Stingray, bringing the total power output to 495 hp and torque to 470 lb⋅ft. Car and Driver recorded a 0 – 60 time of 2.8 seconds.
The Stingray is only offered with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission made by Tremec, with no manual transmission option available. The only other model not offered with a manual transmission was the 1953–1955 C1 model. However, the C8 Corvette Stingray does allow for semi-automatic shifting with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The new dual-clutch transmission has received amazing reviews and has been compared to the PDK automatic transmission for Porsche which is considered the industry standard.
The base model of the Stingray comes with unequal length double wishbone suspension at the front and rear axles made from forged aluminum. Monotube shock absorbers are standard at all four wheels. The car can be equipped with a front-axle lifting height adjustable suspension system that can add 2 in of ground clearance at speeds under 25 mph. The Z51 package adds a performance-tuned adjustable suspension setup with threaded spring seats for further setup customization, as well as an electronic limited-slip differential. Additionally, the top-of-the-line FE4 trim level includes the fourth generation of GM’s magnetic ride adaptive suspension system.
Comfort and Praticality
This is another area that the C8 breaks from tradition of being a mid engine exotic with no place for luggage if you would like a long road trip. The C8 has approx 12.6 cubic feet of trunk space. It has a “frunk” (a trunk up front) and a trunk in the back behind the engine. The trunk in back is large enough for two golf bags and the front can accept the equivalent of two “carry on” luggage pieces………… that’s incredible for an “exotic” car. My C7 Z06 has approx 15.0 cubic feet of storage.
There is a small sacrifice with the coupe and its removable top. The top when removed is stowed in the back luggage area……… no room for golf clubs now. Miss Linda and I love to travel with the top off, with the C8 you might be forced to travel with the top on, only removing it when you get to your destination.
The C8 Spyder (convertible) might actually be a better choice here for road trip. In the Spyder, the mechanically operated hard top is stowed on top of the engine. The beauty of this is that the rear trunk is still available for luggage or those two golf bags. Some might be disappointed as the spyder does not allow you to see the engine under the glass like the coupe, though I think I would prefer the ability to travel with the top open while still having room for luggage for a longer road trip.
I will say it again, as I do believe this new mid engine C8 Corvette is going to change the exotic car world a bit. Here is a true high performance mid engine sports car that is comfortable, quiet (when you want it to be), has plenty of luggage space for a long and enjoyable road trip, while being able to enjoy the road with the top down. All this for about a 3rd of the price of most of its competition.
Am I ready to go out a buy one……………… not quite, I still love my C7 Z06 with a manual transmission. I definitely want to drive one, the same as I want to drive all the cars that I put on this list. As I sit here writing this I can honestly say that there is not a car out there that I would want in place of my Z06. That being said, I would absolutely love to have every car on this list in addition to my Z06.
My mind might be changed when the upcoming models for the C8 are available. They are talking of course about the C8 Z06, ZR1 or even rumors of a model referred to as the Zora. The Z06 is to have a new engine similar to the one in the C8.R race car. This is a new naturally aspirated 5.5 liter dual overhead cam V8 engine with a flat plane crank. The speculation is that it will put out something similar to the C7 Z06’s 650 HP and rev to a 9000 RPM scream!! An upcoming ZR1 or Zora model is likely to be a hybrid pushing close to a 1,000 HP…………………… sounds like fun!!
Please let me know your thoughts and leave comments below.
Exotic Cars and Road Trips…………. Enjoy the Road!!