The Chevrolet Corvette, over its many decades, has garnered a reputation for its appeal to older men—an unfortunate stereotype for a vehicle that was pretty freakin’ sweet even before its eighth generation came around, and for the team that needs to market the car to younger folks in order for it to stay relevant.
But reputations aren’t easy to drive away from, which might be why the design director for the mid-engine C8 told his team to “design it for the 10-year-old kid.” That’s a little under the target driving audience, but hey—start ‘em young, right?
The C8 design director, Tom Peters, said that in a recent interview with Muscle Cars and Trucks, where he mentioned “keeping the current customer in mind” while “really” focusing on the younger buyer with the move of the engine from the front to the middle. That alone was enough to make the boomers mad.
Here’s more of what Peters said, via Muscle Cars and Trucks:
“We listen to our (current) customers as close as anybody does, but also you have to get the young new buyers. So I told my team to design it for the 10 year old kid,” said Peters. “Where I got that philosophy from, and one of the reasons I’m in the business, is that I can trace it all back to when I was about 10 years old and saw a Corvette Sting Ray for the first time. It had such a lasting impression, and I formulated a passion around that car. We wanted new customers and to break away from tradition, so I think that was a powerful way to approach it.”
That is, of course, a different vibe from when the last front-engine Corvette, the C7, launched for the 2014 model year. That year, GM was all about the traditions the past other generations folding into the new one, despite it being “all new.” Indeed, the key descriptor from GM’s design head Ed Welburn was, “a new Corvette Stingray that breaks from tradition, while remaining instantly recognizable as a Corvette the world over.”
But you know, this whole “going for the attention of the 10 year olds” thing is good. Are we not all perpetual 10 year olds, at heart? Do we not all want to go back to a time when race-car beds and supercar posters tacked onto our doors were not only socially acceptable, but considered “cool” decor, and when some unsuspecting visitor stepping on the die-cast cars scattered across the floor was their own problem, because those cars were there for a reason?