My Car Quest

June 19, 2019

Welcome To World Class: The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette

The 2020 Corvette will, I predict, hand Ferrari it’s head.

by Wallace Wyss –

It is apparent now that the 2020 Corvette, to be announced in mid-July, will be mid-engine. That is significant on several accounts but the principle reason it is important, in my view, (and I used to write Corvette ads) is that it sends a message to the world that we, as Americans, can build a world class sports car.

Andrew Wendler, in Car and Driver, in April 2019 summed it up:

Since its inception, the Chevrolet Corvette—in production form, at least—has never deviated from three core attributes: front engine, rear-wheel drive, fiberglass bodywork. From its 1953 debut with the Blue Flame inline six-cylinder to the thundering 755-hp 2019 Corvette ZR1, the basic formula has been set in stone.

That all changes now. Chevy is officially moving the engine to the middle, behind the passenger seats.

Corvette Mid-engine

GM execs drove this through New York City

But in every comparison against mid-engined cars, such as the Ferrari 288, Lamborghini Huracan and Audi R8, it always came down to the fact that the front engine car can’t compete with a mid-engined car in terms of cornering, aerodynamics and handling.

I know you’re asking “What difference does it make where the engine is?” Well, setting the engine between the front and rear axles makes the car less nose heavy. You can go for 50/50 weight distribution. By not offering the engine in front you can have a lower profile hood, more air penetrating, high top speed and less drag.

Even if you have the weight more on the tail than the nose, you get more weight on the driving wheels, which means more traction and the ability to put the power down to the pavement.

In cornering, a mid-engine car has lower polar moment of inertia, which makes it possible for the car to change direction more easily and therefore more rapidly. Now truth is this has been done wrong in many a mid-engined car like the Mangusta, but that was 50 years ago, now they should be able to control it from spinning out.

THE AUDIENCE IS READY

How long have we been waiting for a mid-engine Corvette? Seemingly forever, but GM has been building prototypes for over 50 years. I’ve driven at least one of them (Two Rotor Corvette).

Corvette Mid-engine

Chevy King says this is it

But to me it builds the image of GM that they are finally delivering what they promised. And with the specter of internal combustion cars being outlawed by the Greens in 2030 this car could be the last great swan song of internal combustion.

Wait a minute, what about Ford? They have the Ford GT. But alas, that’s a V6, and we are also celebrating the swan song of the V8, and the Ford Motor Co., ignored the strong pull of a V8. The Ford GT is $300,000 plus and you have to be “approved” before you can buy it. The Corvette mid engine car is rumored to be about $70,000 and I predict anybody with good credit can buy it.

FERRARI, FORGET IT

I tried to count how many Ferrari dealers there were in the U.S., I ran out of names when I got over 50, and even that list was “not pure” including a Brazilian dealer and a Puerto Rican dealer (since when is Brazil part of the US?). But you look up the numbers it comes out to 2,528 for all models in the US. In 2017 Lamborghini sold less than that of their cars, 1044.

The point is that Chevrolet has many many more dealers, and the ability to take trade ins of ordinary family cars, where say trying to trade in a Chevy at a Ferrari or Lamborghini dealership is not a natural “fit.”

Plus there are Chevrolet dealerships at far corners of the US., say Jackson Hole, Wy, where the summer is extremely short, where it wouldn’t pay to have a dealership that is snowbound 6 months of the year.

Corvette mid-engine

From Car & Driver

I even think the impact will be so strong on Lamborghini and Ferrari that they will close out some dealers and that will be a news story in itself, the failure of Italian marques to recognize that a lower tier car could be made for a broader market; or the mistaken belief that Americans will never be able to build a competitor.

A CHANGEOVER IN CUSTOMERS

I used to write for Corvette News, a Chevy sponsored publication. I went to many a Corvette convention. They were a fun loving group (chasing each other with water balloons was one of their things). They had autocrosses, and informal car shows. But I would say technically, they weren’t that world class sophisticated. Oh, they could build a big block that would crank out 550 hp., but ask them today to compare a Lamborghini with an Audi R8 with a Ferrari to a new Corvette and they weren’t up on the specs.

There is a new audience for a mid-engine Corvette. These are the computer –generation, raised with a laptop in one hand, a smart phone in the other. They embrace technology. I had one of these guys, a software writer, age 27, as a room-mate. He made $1,000 a week until I took him to an interview where his salary went from $100,000 a year to $140,000 in one day. That is the kind of money this new generation makes. Forget water balloons.

Even if Chevy loses the “old’ audience for Corvettes it doesn’t matter anymore, because the new generation will make up for it with higher profit cars, even if overall sales numbers are smaller. And the older-but-goodies crowd can vie for the last front engine ones and go down with that ship, just as, say in cameras, I still meet zealots who shoot film. It’s useless to show them the superiority of digital. That will buoy up used Corvette prices.

RECOMMENDING A MONTEREY ROLL OUT

I know it’s rumored the new Corvette will come out in July 2019 but I am recommending, even if they haven’t asked me, to postpone it to Monterey during Car Week for more impact. What they should do is have about 20 of them on the Peninsula, one in every color, parked around every event.

Thank you for supporting My Car Quest

 

And beautiful spokes ladies to hand out small pocket size brochures. It would be good if they could book space at Pebble Beach (the AFAS tent might be available) or Concorso Italiano or The Quail. But even if they weren’t there officially, they could still be all over the Peninsula, everywhere, the drivers meeting and greeting.

I am sure the die-hard Ferrari fans will say they aren’t buying it, how could they turn their back on the prancing horse but at one third the price, how can you still not look at it; look at the specs, the performance figures, and above all the price.

COMMERCIALS

Then I would have some TV commercials filmed, to be inserted in action films on Netflix, whatever, that show the new Corvette in a variety of settings, like Lake Como, Amelia Island, buy footage of the already existing concours and insert the Corvette in venues already identified with the best of the best. Something like Lincoln is trying to do with the Continental but done better (those are too mopey…).

IN SUM… At the risk of sounding jingoistic, it’s about time we cheered for the home team. I am hoping the days of the “fake stuff” like the ’63 Corvette with fake hood vents, fake side vents, fake knock-offs, etc. are long behind us. That we–Americans–are building a high technology car that will perform with the best Europe can build. Ford had a chance but they blew it in ’05-’06 by building a car without a trunk (ah, I think the engineers forgot “grand touring” as in “GT car” meant you brought your luggage on your tour). And only building 4,038 of them. This time there will be enough cars made for everyone that can afford it. And luggage room. And hopefully a targa removable roof version which Ford failed to have in the ’05-’06 and in the new present GT.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of 18 car books. At least three on the Corvette. As a fine artist, he will be painting commissioned portraits in oil of the 2020 Corvette. For particulars and photos of sample paintings, write mendoart7@gmail.com

 

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Summary
Welcome To World Class: The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette
Article Name
Welcome To World Class: The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette
Description
How long have we been waiting for a mid-engine Corvette? Seemingly forever, but GM has been building prototypes for over 50 years and now maybe it is here - the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette.
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Comments

  1. Bruce Caron says

    Can’t wait! Thanks Wallace

  2. Mark G Fleege says

    I can’t wait to see the new Corvette, we’re moving into the future! I want one, Bad!
    Mark Fleege ( Grifo owner )

  3. Bruce Caron says

    I want to put my Rivolta body on it

  4. WW, I think you just single handedly sold more new corvettes than any dealership. Is this triclke down MAGA ? If not, I’m sure he’ll take all the credit.

    I’ve never driven a mid-engine anything. That sounds like a lot of trick GM engineering and design for the price!

  5. They need to keep the Corvette going as is, V8 and front engine with rear wheel drive. They can make some euro mid engine hybrid, probably with a six in back and electric up front, and call it a ‘GM-GTO Something’ in my humble opinion.

  6. wallace wyss says

    I missed this story from April 12, 2019 on Haggerty.com where they discuss the fate of the front engined Corvette:

    “GM’s press release indicates that the ‘final production seventh generation Chevrolet Corvette’ will be auctioned off this summer, benefitting the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. That bit of information quashes rumors that Chevrolet would continue selling the C7 Corvette alongside the C8.”

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