I was cruising along Interstate 55 somewhere southwest of Chicago when I came upon a Mercedes SUV that was continually adjusting speed. Annoyed by someone who couldn’t maintain a constant speed in the passing lane, I dipped the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette I was driving into the right lane and tried to carefully weave my way through scattered traffic and work my way past the schlub.
It was only as I leisurely passed by that I saw the raised smartphone camera. Even in the dark of night, the C8 Corvette stands out, and I was now a temporary celebrity, about to be put into someone’s camera roll – or posted to their social-media accounts – whether I liked it or not.
The C8 Chevrolet Corvette has certainly seen its share of hardships. Despite the vehicle receiving almost unanimous approval from those fortunate enough to get some cockpit time, it has been subject to numerous delays through no fault of its own. Union negations held last fall resulted in a 40-day UAW strike that pushed assembly of the mid-engine Corvette from the tail end of 2019 to the start of 2020. Of course, this butted its launch up against a global pandemic that forced General Motors to shut down production facilities for two months. Shutdowns likewise affected parts suppliers who were also made subject to government restrictions, causing bottlenecks across the industry.
Combined, these issues have forced GM to reduce the number of planned options. Many parts were proving too difficult to source with any reliability and the cars have become notoriously difficult to procure. While the manufacturer has said it would continue building the 2020 model year for as long as possible, supply is unlikely to meet demand until 2021. But the headaches haven’t abated just yet; GM has been forced to stall production on the C8 this week after running out of the necessary parts.
Some of the best driving roads on the continent, the Hocking Hills of southeastern Ohio, lie roughly one hour from my front door. Not coincidentally, those roads are also merely four hours from every Detroit-based ride-and-handling engineer, not to mention the buff books. These twisties, shaped by the glaciers, have been worn smooth by generations of gearheads.
The hour of driving to get to the hills, however, is via a mind-numbing highway slog, often well patrolled by the local constabulary and the notorious Ohio Highway Patrol. There’s no shortcut.
This is where the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray shines. Making a sportscar manage sportscar things, while certainly no easy feat, is right in the wheelhouse of the speed-addled engineers. Making that same car not just livable on the highway, but genuinely excellent, takes some serious doing. Chevrolet has done exactly that here with the C8.
Automakers are notoriously tight-lipped about future product, much to the endless frustration of scoop-hungry automotive journalists.
They respond “we don’t comment on future product” to our e-mailed queries so often that I suspect it’s an automated response. It’s a running joke when hacks and flacks are drinking together in the hospitality suite on a junket and one of us tries to get a buzzed P.R. professional to spill some tea. They go to great lengths to disguise prototypes from the prying eyes of both professional spy photogs and random jamokes with a cell-phone camera. Speaking of cell-phone cameras, journalists invited on to automaker property for certain events will have their phone’s camera lens covered with a sticker for the duration.
Thanks to last year’s prolonged UAW strike and this year’s global pandemic, production of Chevrolet’s new Corvette is way behind schedule. As reported previously, GM had already dialed back the expected number of 2020 C8s headed to dealers by roughly 20 percent before the coronavirus touched down in North America.
Unfortunately, reopening factories hasn’t magically transported the manufacturer into a scenario where C8 ‘Vettes are abundant and customers can rest assured they’ll see their new toy by the end of this year.
Plenty of orders have already been rolled over for 2021 model-year vehicles, especially if they’re convertibles. Now, supply chain troubles all but guarantee 2020 will be an unfortunately weak year for the mid-engined Corvette, and GM knows it. The company’s doing everything it can to get as much product out the door as possible. However, the obstacles placed in GM’s path have proven too large — and timed too perfectly — for it to ever had much of a chance at a normal product launch.
Delayed by a prolonged UAW strike late last year, General Motors announced Monday that that series production of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 has begun. The very first mid-engine Stingray intended for the passenger market has left the retooled assembly line in Bowling Green, Kentucky, with many more to follow.
Everything you’ve seen up to this point was technically a pre-production model, though there shouldn’t be any big changes forcing you to cancel your order. It’s still powered by a naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 (495 hp, 470 lb-ft) and should run to 60 mph in under 3 seconds if you launch it carefully. Even if you aren’t enamored with the styling and prefer the front-engined C7, the C8 represents both a performance bargain and a major technological leap for the model. GM has teased mid-engined Corvettes for decades; now they’re real.
There’s a theory – and when I say there’s a theory, I mean that I quickly concocted one night as sleep began its wash over me – that says the Corvette you love most is the Corvette of your licensing year.
For me, that means the revolutionary C5 Corvette must, by law, take its place as my favourite Corvette. That bulbous rear end, those pop-up headlights, and three top options are memorable aspects to the fifth-generation Corvette. So too is the downmarket interior highlighted by miserable seats, surprisingly decent fuel economy, and remarkably strong sales figures of roughly 30,000 units per year in the U.S.
Objectively, of course, the Corvettes C6 and C7 are markedly, distinctly, better cars. They don’t abide by my favoritism rule, but they’re better cars. Thus, just as I always aspired to ownership of a new C5, I shifted that desire to the C6 in 2005 and the C7 in 2014. The Corvette’s consistently reasonable entry price has always made that aspiration relatively attainable.
But everything has changed with the arrival of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C8. No, it hasn’t become unobtainable, but it’s not clear that it’s an objectively better car. And even if it is, I still wouldn’t want one.
Back when the Dodge Demon originally launched, Fiat Chrysler indicated it would do everything it could to prevent dealer markup. As one of the car’s best features was its comparatively low MSRP, at least for the amount of power Dodge was offering, FCA didn’t want price gouging sullying the monster’s good name. Besides, the factory isn’t seeing any of that extra cash so there’s no incentive for it to support markups.
Unfortunately, gouging still took place. Some dealerships found a workaround by having intermediaries on eBay auction off the right to buy one of their Demon allocations — resulting in customers paying tens of thousands in bidding wars to have the opportunity to purchase the car at its “fair price.”
While grimy, it’s not much different than dealerships automatically tacking on premiums to the likes of the Honda Civic Type R or Toyota Supra. Pretty much every manufacturer building a rare or coveted automobile takes some precautions these days, but there’s always someone waiting to screw you. For example, Porsche is pretty good at selling its rather expensive vehicles at MSRP, yet rarer models are frequently flipped online for a small fortune.
Hoping to cut markups off at the ankles, a subset of buyers interested in Chevrolet’s new Corvette have been busy strategizing — resulting in an effective-sounding plan.
When General Motors debuted the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, the automaker promised it would start below $60,000. It’s just barely been able to keep that promise at $59,995, which incorporates the obligatory $1,095 destination charge, but it’s still an impressively low target for a mid-engined performance vehicle. You can, of course, option out Chevy’s C8 Stingray to a much higher price tag.
Fortunately, even if you go absolutely mental on the options, you’ll still be saving yourself some cash vs any of the Corvette’s chief rivals. For example, a bare-bones Porsche 911 starts at $98,750 while the Corvette has to move up two trim levels and take on loads of extras before it surpasses $80,000.
It was long assumed that the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette would premiere at the North American International Auto Show next month. However, General Motors recently confirmed this was not to be. In fact, it doesn’t appear as though the automaker has any big announcements scheduled for the event. Did something go wrong?
Big time, according to GM Authority. The outlet claims the C8 Corvette’s engineering team found a major electrical issue that stymied development. Anonymous sources hinted that the current system isn’t robust enough to carry the load necessary to support all of the car’s components simultaneously.