On July 18, Chevrolet will launch the eighth generation of its iconic sports car — what it calls the "first-ever mid-engine Corvette." Not true.
While the "C8" Corvette will be the first mid-engine version to reach showrooms, it is not the first to be designed, engineered or even greenlighted for production since the model's 1953 launch. So, why is it happening now?
"It brings the Vette closer to exotic cars — the Ford GT is an easy comparison," said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds. "It's GM's time to shine with a technology showcase. Performance will be extremely impressive, but the price point, expected to be over $100,000, will give Chevrolet more room to put in technology."
When Tesla sedans outrun your corporate flagship, it's time for revolution, but if base Corvettes rise from today's $55,900, it could make the car prohibitively expensive for enthusiasts.
"People who aspire to own a Corvette could be slightly left out," Caldwell said. "It gives opportunity to Camaro, but there could also be something between Camaro and the mid-engine Corvette. The new car is definitely going to attract a different audience."
Corvette's current architecture has served well but is unable to accommodate all-wheel-drive and electrification — both critical for ultimate performance. If Corvettes are being outrun by Teslas, they are certainly no match for top McLarens, Porsches and Ferraris.
Noting a mid-engine C7 was greenlighted before his 2010 retirement, former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told Autoline in September: "We wanted to do a mid-engine Corvette before the '07/'08 financial meltdown. We had to cancel that investment-intensive program to do one more iteration of the C6, which turned out to be the C7. We were at the limit of what we can achieve with the layout. To achieve superior lap times, the car has to go mid-engine."
After decades of dreaming, a mid-engine Corvette is reality. The question is, how will enthusiasts respond?
"Every design change requires time for fans to adjust," said Jon Thorn, Corvette Club of America board member and owner of a 2007 Black Corvette Z06.