Chevrolet Reveals the Super Ugly Corvette C8 Convertible to the Thunderous Applause of Corvette Owners and Dealers

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth


The poor server at the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible launch had just dumped an entire tray of backwash onto her chest, thanks to the raucous, deafening, unholy rumble of the C8.R Corvette that had been started and revved up nearly fifty feet away from her. I stifled my laugh and reassured her from my nearby hi-top table.

“Don’t worry,” I said to her as she stood there shaking with a combination of laughter and disgust. “I don’t think anybody else saw that.”

If you want to read all about how great the new Corvette Stingray Convertible is, I encourage you to go to your web browser and read any one of the literally hundreds of stories that were posted the instant the embargo dropped last night. There, you will be able to read all about the nearly 500 horsepower and the 3-second zero-to-60 times and the 16-second-folding-hardtop and the $67,499 price tag, plus you’ll be able to see some very flattering photos of an orange Vette that have been photoshopped within a pixel of their lives. I was doing “Triometrics” at the hotel while everybody else was breathlessly regurgitating the stats, so I apologize that you’re only getting this vital information this morning instead of last night.

But, if you want to read about how the Corvette Stingray Convertible is the ugliest, most Playskool looking car I’ve ever seen in person, plus some stuff about how the C8.R shows us how terribly executed the coupe/convertible is, stick around and click the jump.

I should apologize for the poor quality of these photos, because in addition to being flooded by unnatural light, shadows, and being taken with an iPhone XS Max, they are also of an extremely ugly car, and I’m not sure that you can tell just how damned ugly it is. The front, profile, and rear of the car look like they were designed by three entirely separate teams who had received three completely different sets of directions. The nose of the car is budget McLaren 570S, the profile is budget Acura NSX, and the rear is leftover Camaro parts. The convertible also manages to pull off the trick of completely eliminating one of the few redeeming visual characteristics of the coupe, which is the glass engine compartment cover. Because that’s where the folding top has to go, duh.

The Rapid Blue that drapes over the bizarre contours of the ‘vert at the top of this page is the most popular color for coupe orders thus far, according to GM brass. But while it looks good on the Corvette configuration website, in person, it is a horrific shade of Smurf. Keep in mind, this is coming from somebody who bought a Nitrous Blue Focus RS with his own money. The color makes the car look even cheaper, if that’s possible.

The interior is identical to the one found in the coupe, but that’s not a good thing. The much-maligned center console, along with its row of confusing buttons, hasn’t gotten any better looking or less confusing in the last three months. Also, if you’re spending $70,000 for a Corvette, and the interior completely prevents even the possibility of receiving…well, you know…then what’s the point?

But there was a gorgeous Corvette in attendance at the Kennedy Space Center last night, and it was heard well before it was seen. Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner rumbled the new C8.R into the center of the pavilion, and if there isn’t a flat-crank V8 under the hatch, then my ears are completely broken. Yes, the C8.R retains the basic silhouette of the road-going car, but there are subtle tweaks all around that just seem to effortlessly fix the visual atrocities committed by both the convertible and the coupe. There’s also the not-so-subtle spoiler, a feature that the C8 desperately needs — I have no idea if the downforce will be required, as there was no driving at this event, but for visuals? Hell, yes. It makes me hopeful that the forthcoming Z06 and ZR1 variants will have a big, honking wing like the one seen below.

In a perfect world, this is what the C8 Corvette would look like. However, this isn’t a perfect world, and the C8.R is here to remind us of that. This is what the Corvette could have and should have looked like. Yes, perhaps they couldn’t have sold it for $60,000 if it did, but it also wouldn’t look like a Chinese knockoff of a 488 — and then you could have sold it for $80-100k.

However, in what has become a bit of a worrying trend as of late, Chevrolet made sure that the Corvette Convertible would be met with roars of approval at its launch party by packing the crowd with dealers, employees, Corvette owners, and astronauts. I mean, who isn’t applauding an astronaut?

And the boomer owner group in attendance? Well, they were fawning over it like it was a midday Matlock marathon.

“I fit! I fit!” proclaimed one such portly gentleman to his wife on the other end of the phone as he sat covered in sweat on a nearby bench. Well, this was a bit of an exaggeration. You see, I had watched his attempts at entering and exiting the C8 coupe that was parked in the rocket garden. He fell backward awkwardly into the driver’s seat, feet in the air, his baseball cap spilling into the passenger seat. He then re-positioned himself behind the wheel and handed his phone to a nearby Chevrolet employee for a photo op. After the picture was taken to his satisfaction, he opened the door, but couldn’t manage to get himself into a position to exit. The only option appeared to be recreating his entrance in reverse — he fell into the passenger seat, then forcefully kicked the door open with both feet.

For this reason alone, most of the Vette’s target audience would be better off buying a previous generation of the car. This is why I think Chevrolet has made a mistake with this mid-engined car, but it’s also why the convertible is going to be so important to the future of the C8. The lower roofline of the coupe makes ingress and egress extremely difficult for anybody with, say, a hip replacement. The push-button nature of the folding hardtop will make this car a much more viable proposition for the older set.

And in the end, Chevrolet and GM will be able to get away with having such a hideous car — for now. After the newness wears off, after the 37,000 initial orders happen, then we’ll all see how the general public, and not just the Corvette faithful, feel about this car. I have a fair amount of seat time in the C7, and I can honestly say that I’d prefer a C7 Grand Sport over the C8 Stingray every day of the week, convertible or not. I’m pretty squarely in the audience that GM would like to be interested in buying this car — Gen X, upwardly mobile — and I came away from this event thinking Chevrolet would have been better off leaving the C5-C7 formula alone, and calling this new car something else.

Of course, there’s every chance I’ll drive it someday and feel completely different. Let’s hope.

[Images: Mark “Bark M” Baruth]

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
Mark "Bark M." Baruth

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2 of 112 comments
  • Amca Amca on Oct 08, 2019

    No snub-nosed mid-engined car will ever be hold a candle to a long-hooded, sleek front-engined care. No way, ever. It'll never happen. The C7 was a particularly well-proportioned car. C8 will always look like hell next to it. Except at speed on a track. C8 is full of great little details. I'll have to wait to see one before I make up my mind as to whether C8 is pretty nice looking for a mid-engined car. But I will say that the convertible that was leaked at introduction seemed cleaner looking than the coupe, a more attractive shape overall. We shall see.

  • Polka King Polka King on Oct 17, 2019

    Ugly is in, man! Have you seen a Toyota lately?

  • James Hendricks The depreciation on the Turbo S is going to be epic!
  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.