Impressive engineering, relatively low list price and striking looks aside the 2020 Corvette C8 really is one of the most significant things to happen in cars in a long time. If you disagree, I’m going to change your mind.
I know, I can’t believe we’re not done thinking about the new Vette either, but frankly that’s part of the reason this thesis is worth discussing before we return to our regularly scheduled programming and talking about literally anything else going on in the automotive industry.
The greatest triumph of the C8 is that it represents a major departure from tradition for a mainstream automaker, while simultaneously staying true to the longstanding Corvette ethos of democratizing elite-level speed and handling and distributing it to the masses.
For clarity–Corvettes have never been “cheap” off a dealer lot. But they have historically offered up huge doses of performance for your dollars. And taking the platform mid-engine, while keeping that engine enormous and the whole package somewhat affordable, elevates the concept to a new level.
Until this week, a big-displacement mid-mounted engine was pretty much exclusively Lamborghini territory. Soon, you’re going to be able to get that at a dang Chevy dealership.
As far as historical gravity and just general gobsmacking, the C8 launch pretty much kicked everything else we’ve been excited about over the last few years into the trash. OK, that’s a little hyperbolic, but think about it:
The 2019 Ford Ranger is a mild revision on a 2012 design.
The EcoBoost Ford GT is cool, but it’s unobtanium. You’ll be lucky to see one, let alone drive one in your lifetime. The new NSX isn’t quite as exclusive but it still starts at almost double the C8’s implied MSRP of $59,999.
The Toyota Supra seems fun but it’s not built on a unique platform which, sorry, does diminish its epicness a little.
Everybody loves the JL Wrangler, but let’s be real, it’s a cautious evolution of its predecessor.
The Honda Civic Type R, Dodge Challenger Demon, Ford Focus RS, Ford F-150 Raptor... all fun and good and impressive in their own ways, but those cars simply don’t stand out with the C8 in terms of pure uniqueness and monumentality.
The only recent car that comes close to being as much of a mic drop as the new Corvette is the Tesla Model 3. I’m taking points off for execution there, though. Remember when the $35,000 variant that disappeared due to “lack of demand?” Lame. (Don’t worry, we’re all ready to bitch and moan if Chevy pulls that crap and quietly disappears the “under $60,000” C8 too.)
Point is: you don’t have to like the new Corvette, or be into sports cars at all, but recognize that GM has executed something truly legendary here. At least, in concept–I have to hedge just enough so I don’t look like a dingus if we go drive it and it feels like junk. But with almost 500 horsepower mounted behind the driver, I don’t think there’s much danger of that happening.