SOURCE: Aaron Young for HotCars.com
Ranging from pure performance monsters to cool and unique designs, here are some of the coolest forms the Corvette has taken over the years.
Long live America’s sports car – first shown to the world at GM’s Motorama in 1953, the Corvette is nearing its 70th anniversary as the premier American sports car, and one that has come to represent the American performance game. With its signature V8 power, and price that makes it a great value for the performance, the Corvette has stuck around in the hearts and minds of enthusiasts, even through its darkest years during the Oil Crisis.
Along the way through, the Corvette has also been defined by a multitude of special editions. Ranging from pure performance monsters to awesome looking aesthetic changes, the special edition Corvettes have been some of the coolest forms the car has taken over its long life. These 10 though, are among the sickest special edition Corvettes to ever hit the street.
The greatest of all classic Corvettes, the L88 is an absolutely wicked, special, and rare ‘Vette that now commands millions of dollars at auction.
Unleashed onto the world in 1967, the L88’s development was carried out under command of Zora Arkus-Duntov himself. Packing plenty of racing-oriented modifications, the L88 was intended to help further the Corvette’s status as a motorsports icon. But, what was truly special about the L88, was its engine. Thoroughly modified, the legendary 427 V8 inside the ‘Vette was brought up to a truly wild number of around 580 hp.
Stripped of most comfort based options and features, GM tried to scare people away from buying the monstrous car. Down-rating it, and claiming the engine had 435 hp, intentions were for people to be scared off by the lack of “civilized” features, and opt for another performance package that included them while having similar power. Mostly ending up used as race cars (to GM’s relief), only 20 L88 Corvettes were made in 1967, making them one of the most powerful, and rare special editions in the Corvette’s history.
A familiar name in the modern Corvette’s legacy, the ZR1 began life as a successor to the earth-shattering L88, and still stands for the ultimate performance edition a Corvette can have.
Sold under a Regular Production Order (RPO) from 1970 until 1972, the ZR1 was similar to the L88 in that ordering it meant you had to sacrifice many comfort-based options such as air conditioning, the radio, and power steering. What you got in return though, were specialized performance parts like beefy suspension, a performance transmission, and big brakes. More importantly, though, the ZR1 gave you the special LT1 small-block V8 laying down 370 hp, turning the C3 Corvette into a monster. Yet, only 25 ZR1s were sold in 1970, making it among the rarest special edition Corvettes.
With the Corvette losing most of its performance and overall greatness during the tail end of the C3 generation, and the first years of the C4, the 1990 ZR1 came about to reclaim the nameplate’s glory as a performance monster.
Named “King of the Hill” during its development, this revival of the ZR1 would live up to that name in spades. Forgoing the standard V8 that had been powering the C4, a special 5.7 L LT5 V8 making 380 hp was mounted inside – developing over 400 hp by the end of its run. Not just powerful though, at the time GM owned Lotus and brought them on to make the ZR1 handle as well as it accelerated. An instant success, the 1990 ZR1 was one of the fastest cars of the early ’90s, helping rekindle the Corvette’s flame, and remaining on sale until 1995.
1966 Grand Sport
While somewhat overshadowed by the 1990-95 ZR1, the 1996 Grand Sport was an awesome way to send off the C4 generation Corvette.
Built as an homage to the ’60s Grand Sport Corvette racecars, the 1996 Grand Sport was situated in a tough position. With the C4 ZR1 ending in 1995, and the all-new C5 ready for release in 1997, Chevy needed to make a splash with a special edition for the C4’s retirement.
While not the performance beast that the ZR1 was, the Grand Sport was one of the coolest C4 Corvettes to be released. Tuning the LT1 V8 to 330 hp, and renaming it the LT4, the Grand Sport was genuinely quick for the late ’90s. Sporting the iconic blue and white paint with red fender marks, the 1996 Grand Sport did its job of sending off the C4 with great style and set the tone for later Grand Sport editions of the Corvette.
2004 Z06 Commemorative Edition
Similar to the 1996 Grand Sport, the 2004 Commemorative Edition was a send-off for the C5 generation of Corvette, and focused on a flashy red, white, and blue paint job.
With the C6 on the horizon for 2005, and the C5-R Corvette racecar scoring consecutive class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Commemorative Edition sent off the C5 generation by celebrating those Le Mans victories.
Available on either the coupe, convertible, or Z06 flavors of Corvette, the Commemorative Edition was mostly just aesthetic changes. Painted in the same base scheme as the Le Mans C5-R, the Commemorative Edition came with plenty of cool touches like badges and seat embroidery. One performance touch present though, order the Commemorative Edition Z06, and you had the option to add a carbon fiber hood.
Bringing the special edition ZR1 nameplate back for its third shot at crushing the performance game, 2009 saw it return with the greatest power of any road-going Corvette before it.
Gone from the market since the previous one’s end in 1995, the ZR1 returned with ferocity after 14 years. Like the previous ZR1s it followed in the footsteps of, a monstrous and unique engine was placed inside – the supercharged LS9 V8 spitting out a whopping 638 hp. With features like a window in the hood that displays the supercharger, the most power a stock Corvette had up until it, and a 200 MPH+ top speed, the 2009 ZR1 helped prove that the Corvette was a competitive force in the modern car industry.
2011 Z06 Carbon Limited Edition
Another special edition that celebrates the Corvette’s long-lived presence at Le Mans, the Z06 Carbon Limited Edition does more than just add a special paint job though.
Limited to just 500, the Z06 Carbon Limited Edition takes the already performance-oriented Z06 and imbues it with performance parts from the monstrous ZR1. Included in the Carbon Limited Edition are the big carbon-ceramic brakes, adjustable shocks, wheels, and tires from the ZR1. But that’s not all, as the “Carbon” in its name also refers to the carbon fiber front splitter, hood, and roof panel it comes with. Only available in a special shade of blue or orange, the Carbon Limited Edition is one of the coolest modern Corvette special editions.
2013 427 Convertible
A number that will be instantly recognizable to Chevy fans, the 427 Convertible pays tribute to the legendary 427 big-block V8 of Chevy’s muscle car past.
While the Z06 is a favorite amongst Corvette fans for its balance of performance, affordability, and ease of street use, one of its best features on the C6 generation was the 505 hp LS7 V8. Although the Z06 and its LS7 didn’t come in convertible form – the 427 Convertible changed that.
While missing Z06 exclusive features like its aluminum frame, the 427 Convertible drops the LS7 into a convertible Corvette and adds touches like a special paint scheme, and the rear axle and shock absorbers from the Z06. Back to the name though, the LS7 is technically a 427.7 cu-in engine, but Chevy rounded down to pay tribute to their classic big block, it’s a technicality that’s easy to forgive though, especially when the car is this cool.
The 4th, and most powerful iteration of the legendary ZR1, the C7 based edition is also the last time ZR1 will be used on the Corvette’s traditional front-engine layout.
Even better, or worse – depending on your perspective, the C8 ZR1 is confirmed to be a hybrid. But back to the C7 ZR1 – serving as the 4th time the special edition ZR1 has graced Chevy showrooms, the 2019 ZR1 evolved from the 2009 version with even more ridiculous amounts of power. Capable of a 0-60 MPH time of 3.0 seconds thanks to the 755 hp its supercharged LT5 V8 produces, the 2019 ZR1 is the most powerful and most insane stock Corvette so far – though, the C8 ZR1 is said to be shooting for 900 hp.
2016 Z06 C7/R Edition
A team with many decades of racing legacy, Corvette Racing’s C7.R is the focus of this special edition, using a Z06 to pay tribute to the full-on racecar and its iconic yellow paint.
Limited to only 500 units, the C7.R edition was available on Z06 Corvettes and offered the Z07 Performance Package with its carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes. Otherwise, the C7.R Edition is mostly an aesthetic one, packing Corvette Racing Yellow paint, special graphics, wheels, yellow brake calipers, as well as a black interior with yellow contrast stitching. Equipped with the C7 Z06’s supercharged LT4 V8 with 650 hp, the C7.R Edition is one of the coolest for fans of the Corvette Racing team.
SOURCE: Aaron Young for HotCars.com
When Corvettes are shipped to a Chevrolet dealership, they have to go through a pre-delivery inspection known as PDI. Service technicians take the cars fresh off the truck into the service bays where they run through a checklist of things to do that include installing any parts and accessories as well as checking and topping off the fluids.
We’ve talked about the PDI process previously, and have even shared some of the processes like the installation of a High Wing. Now here’s a chance to watch a 2020 Corvette going through PDI with a time-lapse video that condenses the hour-and-a-half process into just under 5 minutes. While we don’t really learn anything new from the video, we are treated to a scene that most of us will never see.
The video was posted to YouTube by a user named “I Sell Corvettes“:
The long version time-lapse of the C8 pre-delivery inspection. This C8 is a fairly basic, non-Z51 so the PDI is pretty quick and easy, less than an hour and a half.
Power doesn’t always equal victory.
Forget about the 1960s and 70s; we are truly living in the golden age of the muscle car, where power levels have pierced the stratosphere, and quarter-mile times keep tumbling down at an incredible rate. Cars such as the Dodge Challenger Hellcat are best suited to racing in a straight line, but people are just as interested in seeing more dynamically capable cars duke it out on the strip. Two such cars are the Chevrolet Corvette, which is no stranger to the drag strip, and the sonorous Ford Shelby GT350. These two cars are more track-focused, but can still get down in the quarter, and in a YouTube video posted by Driving Line we see these two square up for a bit of a friendly battle.
The Corvette shown here is of the Z51 variety and produces 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque from its 6.2-liter V8. The Z51 package also adds an electronic LSD and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. This allows the C8 Corvette to sprint to sixty in only 2.9 seconds, and cross the quarter-mile in a scant 11.2 seconds. The Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, on the other hand, is motivated by a 5.2-liter Voodoo V8 that produces 526 hp and 429 lb-ft, but the car in the video has seen some extensive modification. Chris Wise’s GT350 now produces 875 hp thanks to a supercharger, while the C8 ‘Vette remains bone stock. That’s quite the power disadvantage.
After some tight practice rounds, the two cars line up for the official race. The Corvette blasts off the line, leaving the Mustang, which is struggling with traction, in the dust. The Corvette keeps pulling down the track, and by the end of the run the Mustang starts crawling back, but it’s too little, too late. The end result reveals that both cars crossed the line in the 11.8-second range. To then level the playing field, both drivers climb in identical Chevy Sparks, packing 98 hp, and burn down the strip. In a show of skill, the Corvette driver takes the race, proving that sometimes skill (and appropriate weight balance) outweighs power.
The Shelby GT350 is not long for this world: we recently found out it will not be produced for the 2021 model. Perhaps GT350 buyers might want to buy a new Corvette instead.
Michael Butler for Car Buzz
The Corvette runs blistering laps on track and ruins back roads for the price of a Porsche’s option list.
The spiritual home of the sports car in North America isn’t Detroit. It’s not Southern California. It’s not even Bowling Green. It’s upstate New York, specifically Watkins Glen. A tiny American town with an outsize reputation.
From the November/December 2020 issue of Road & Track.
After World War II, sports cars followed returning service members to America. Lithe, light, and low-powered, they were the antithesis of the American way of travel. Cameron Argetsinger, a Watkins Glen local, saw an opportunity. In 1948, he staged the first Watkins
Glen road race, an event that became an annual showcase of the country’s bravest drivers on challenging country roads. In 1951, legendary General Motors designer Harley Earl attended the race to show off a concept LeSabre and was inspired to build a purely American sports car. In 1953 he came back to the race with his creation: the Corvette.
The first generation wasn’t quite up to its world-beating task. But through seven generations and more than 65 years, the Corvette evolved into a car that did everything a Porsche or a Ferrari could for less than half the price. It’s one of few cars at home in every possible environment. It’s underrated to the point of disdain by those who simply don’t want to believe that an American sports car can beat the hell out of models from Europe.
Part of that may be the working-class price. Another may be the lackluster interiors. The biggest knock may have been the perception that the engine was in the wrong place. And for decades, rumors insisted that the Corvette’s V-8 would move behind the driver. It was always just about to happen, with a string of mid-engine concept cars giving credence to the rumors. But a series of false starts, including one C7-generation plan scuttled by bankruptcy, saw hopes continually fall. Until now.
The C8-generation Corvette is easily the most anticipated American car of the last 20 years, one with impossibly high expectations from customers, journalists, and GM itself. It must be a grand tourer, sports car, track car, drag racer, and golf-club hauler, displaying versatility not expected of any other model. That’s the Corvette’s dilemma: Because it has doubters, it must to do everything flawlessly.
Our first drive of the C8 for Performance Car of the Year saw us get behind the wheel of a preproduction model, one not 100-percent finalized. At the time, it seemed the Stingray was very good but best considered as a building block for higher-powered versions of the car to come, variants that would truly take advantage of the mid-engine architecture.
But the completed car stands on its own. This is the performance bargain of the century.
Like the Corvette, Watkins Glen has evolved. Racing moved from public roads to a purpose-built facility decades ago, but the track is no less daunting. This circuit hosted the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix for two decades and still sees professional sports-car racing each year. It’s one of the old-school tracks, iconic blue barriers lining a course carved out of the land by men on tractors, not mere algorithms. What you get is a gorgeous, flowing track, a fast 3.4-mile goliath as intimidating as it is iconic. This is where we reacquaint ourselves with the C8.
It gets you the first time you push the start button, the familiar small-block bark smacking your brain from behind, the unrefined lope a brief reminder that you’re not in something from Europe. The new engine, dubbed LT2, is an evolution of the V-8 we saw in the C7, now producing 495 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque with the Z51 package. That gets it to 60 in 2.8 seconds, better than the last-generation Z06 and ZR1, cars with at least 150 more horsepower.
The C8 gives the illusion of ever-present grip. It’s a rear-wheel-drive car with an almost all-wheel-drive character, able to fire in any direction at any time. That acceleration from a dig is thanks to the mid-engine layout and aggressively short gearing from the eight-speed, dual-clutch gearbox. Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter said shifting weight toward the rear axle would allow the C8 to put more power down, hence the move to a mid-engine layout. Perhaps the C7 Stingray and Grand Sport had no traction issues; the C8 has less than none.
You do lose the dance of clutch, accelerator, and steering, of making sure you have the right mix to stay straight. On the track, going for lap times, that’s undeniably a good thing. But losing that theater is noticeable on the road, where instead of worrying about controlling the rear end, you need to worry about hitting imprisonable speeds within seconds of touching the throttle.
Unlike Corvettes past, the controls are delicate, with light steering and paddle shifters. A sign of modern trends. While it was a sad day when the Corvette lost its third pedal, the gearbox has vastly improved since we first drove the car months ago.
Shifts from the Tremec-designed transmission are crisp and rapid in manual mode, thanks to paddles wired directly to the box. Downshifts are quick and perfectly rev-matched, when you get them. That’s one annoyance. In a heavy braking zone, like into Turn 1 at The Glen, you’re snagging gears quickly. Occasionally the gearbox takes more than one pull to react, likely because a paddle was pulled before the engine was ready to allow a shift. Instead of delaying that shift slightly, the gearbox denies it, then forgets you ever asked. Exercising more patience with the paddle results in delay-free downshifts. Driven in automatic, it’s telepathic, keeping the engine in the powerband at all times and banging off shifts without issue.
Chevrolet has recently compared Corvette automatics to Porsche’s PDK gearbox, and every single time Chevy’s automatic has been a letdown. The PDK is still the best you can buy, but this Tremec is leagues better than any automatic ever fit to a Corvette, a half-step at most behind the best.
Tucked in the hills just outside the hamlet that bears the same name, Watkins Glen International is one of America’s greatest and most challenging tracks.
1. TURN ONE
A fast right. Get your braking done beforehand, hit an early apex, and use all the track for the fast run up the esses.
2. THE BUS STOP
The place to be brave. Brake late and clobber the curbs. The Vette was touching 150 before the braking zone.
3. THE BOOT
Quicker than it looks. Use the track’s compression to get back to power early, maximizing that short straight.
4. THE TABLETOP
Secretly the most challenging turn on track. An off-camber left, get this one wrong and you’ll end up in the wall.
Like the gearbox, the brakes have gone digital, a brake-by-wire setup bypassing the physical connection between pedal and braking system (though there is a mechanical backup if the by-wire system fails). This means the computer can change the pedal feel depending on the driving situation, which is gimmicky—and disconcerting, since brakes should be a constant—but also a likely sign of an upcoming hybrid system. But left in Sport mode the pedal is linear and accurate, the brakes showing no fade after repeated use at more than 150 mph through The Glen’s bus-stop chicane.
The delicate controls, light steering, and paddle-shift gearbox may lead you to believe that the Vette needs a light touch. Not the case. In fact, it’s the opposite; in corners like The Glen’s Turn 5, a long, downhill right-hand sweeper, you need patience with the throttle lest you make the front push. A big swing at the wheel or an aggressive move on the pedals is needed to make the Corvette come around. Steering, while accurate, is numb, meaning your inputs must be informed by something other than your hands.
Vague steering is always a letdown. But as the pace gets higher, the chassis comes alive. It may not be as adjustable as the last car, likely a design choice made to save drivers from the 6.2-liter pendulum behind their backs. Still, speeds become very serious very fast, although the car remains stable and predictable, two confidence builders. The last thing you want in a car this accessible to so many people is a tricky experience. Otherwise we’d likely be hearing about a lot of owners who aren’t thrilled with GM after wrapping their C8s tail-first around a tree.
But get on the power at the right time, and from apex to corner exit there isn’t much that drives like this. A big part is the fantastic Performance Traction Management (PTM) system, hyper-advanced traction control that actually cuts spark instead of using the brakes to bring the car back in line. This is racing-level stuff, and it works excellently, though we’re not sure it’s being fully exploited. The sheer rear-end grip is so massive that traction control is more safety net than necessity.
Stopwatch estimates from pit lane put the Corvette at a sub-2:10 lap at The Glen, positively blistering when you consider that this is a lightly optioned base Corvette putting up numbers that are tough for any car to match.
On the road, heads snap when it drives by, some innocent bystanders wondering what the hell it is, some refusing to believe it exists at all. The front three-quarter view is the winner, a mixture of angles and shapes invoking stealth fighters. The rear view is inelegant at best, the need for golf-bag storage creating squarish hips, denying the Corvette the lithe, tapered beauty of other mid-engine cars. No matter what you think of its looks, it has serious presence.
The ride quality is simply outstanding. Magnetic Ride Control shocks make this the most comfortable sports car you can drive that doesn’t cost more than $300,000. It’s truly a feat, keeping the Corvette comfortable for hours. And this iteration has an excellent interior.
The seats are normally a Vette low point. The GT2 buckets in our car were supportive and on the verge of being too tight, though that’s honestly a sign that I need to spend more time on the bike than I do eating cookies. It’s a great place to be, especially if you’re behind the wheel.
Everything is angled towards the driver, including a raised panel housing the ancillary controls, which creates a border wall the passenger must summit in order to change the radio station. On the track or a solo drive, it’s wonderful, a cocoon that lets you focus without distraction. But trips with a friend or significant other feel like you’re in two different cars, particularly if your passenger is short. There is one blessing of the control wall: Passengers with music ADD won’t change the radio as often.
While companions struggle to find some way to turn off the Gin Blossoms, you can focus on driving. The gearbox’s on-track blindspots are eradicated on the road. The dual-clutch system begs you to put it in manual mode, as if it knows it can do everything itself but would really rather have you as part of the fun. There may not be a clutch pedal, but the transmission feels visceral enough that you can forget it’s not there.
The C8 Corvette is years of anticipation made real. On first impression, it does all the right things. It tucks crisply into corners, the engine has that perfect lope, it attracts the eye, and it feels like you’re driving a car worth three times the price. It’s a wonderful road car you could use daily, in any location, without worry. Unlike any other mid-engine car, it’s relaxed around town, a gentle cruiser, perfectly at home. On a good road it comes alive, quick and agile, the small-block V-8 once again proving it will never be outdated. It’s an outstanding combination.
Yet something undefinable is missing. The C7-generation Corvette had layers, getting better the more time you spent behind the wheel. The C8 seems to throw everything at you from the first drive, shouting its inherent specialness from minute one, relentlessly showing you every trick it has. It’s the same with its appearance. The C7 flew under the radar, eliciting knowing nods and glances and occasional waves, but nothing that’d attract a civilian crowd. The new car may as well come with a disco ball and DJ air horns. A drawback? Perhaps not. But if you’re running an errand, expect it to take twice as long as planned. Grocery run? Everybody on the dance floor! WAH-WAH-WAHHHHH!
Put it all in perspective. The Corvette’s base price is $59,995, with our tester coming in at $86,710. Either price is a bargain for a car with Ferrari/McLaren levels of performance. It’s impressive on every level, and the mid-engine platform will pay bigger dividends as engineers add power, hybrid systems, and handling packages that truly exploit the layout, if you actually need more performance. It’s hard to imagine that anyone does; more speed usually leads to sacrifices in comfort, usability, and—most importantly—price.
After every run at The Glen I had the same thought: This is the first car from Chevrolet with the engine behind the driver since the Corvair. Their corporate history is not mid-engine unobtanium but budget performance. And now they have a mid-engine Corvette that runs blistering laps on track and ruins backroads for the price of an option package on a high-end supercar.
If this is the future of performance, we’re going to be all right.
TRAVIS OKULSKI for Road and Track
Kids have been hanging out of car windows screaming, grown adults stopping in my driveway to take photos, and minions asking lists of questions at gas stations. Any number of fellow drivers waved their hands for me to roll down my window. “Is that the new Corvette,” they screamed. When I confirmed it was, the overwhelming sentiment was, “I thought it was, but it didn’t look right.” That’s because the engine has changed its latitude from front to behind the driver. The rest of the car is just as dramatic.
Paint To Light The Night
It flares its presence with Sebring orange metallic paint and Carbon Flash black accents that include 19-inch/20-inch wheels front/rear. It’s all good, but moving the engine location changes proportions, shortening the nose and lengthening the rear roofline that ends in a high wide deck. Peaked fenders, pointy nose, and quad taillamps all whisper “Corvette” while the rear window becomes a viewing platform for the engine. It’s all familiar, but oh so different.
Hallmarks of previous generation Corvettes have been their roomy interiors, generous cargo space, and all-day comfort. Unlike most supercars, Corvettes could be driven to work with ease. Even drivers of advancing years and generous proportions fit inside. Mid-engine cars tend to be cramped and uncomfortable. Designers knew they would have to overcome those deficiencies to meet Corvette enthusiasts’ expectations.
Drivers feel like they’re commanding a warp-speed starship when facing the reconfigurable flatscreen instrument cluster, heated squircle steering wheel, and flatscreen infotainment system. A large head-up display changes configuration with the drive modes. Climate controls are housed in a thin panel running from dash to console. Tech includes a 14-speaker Bose Performance series audio system, wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. Seeing out was bound to be more difficult, but a rearview camera mirror, front camera, rear parking sensors, crosspath detection, and blind zone alert alieve any concerns.
Passengers sit further forward in the chassis than in previous generations, but there’s still ample space. Drivers get wide footwells with a proper dead pedal. Heated and ventilated seats feature power side bolsters and lumbar while a roomy trunk behind the engine and deep frunk in the nose provide nearly as much cargo space as the C7. The roof panel still fits in the trunk. So does a set of golf clubs.
Fastest Vette Yet
Fully exposed, the engine is one potent device. The 6.2-liter V8 spins out 495 horsepower and 470 lb. ft. of torque. It all gets to the rear wheels through an 8-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. There’s no manual option, so pat the paddles to shift yourself. If you want a selfie, click quick as the fastest ever Vette evaporates 0-60 mph in under three seconds and terminates just shy of 200 mph. Fuel economy rates 15/27-MPG city/highway.
So why, after nearly 70 years, did engineers move the engine from front to middle? Well, they kept adding power to the front-engine cars, but could not get them to go appreciably faster. They just couldn’t get weight to transfer to the rear wheels. This one hooks up and is far better balanced on the track.
Shred curvy backroads and you can almost think it through. It’s an easier car to drive, especially with Tour, Sport, and Track modes that change the steering weight, throttle sensitivity, and transmission shift points. The Z51 package adds performance brakes, suspension, exhaust, and electronic limited slip differential. There’s a slight hesitation before unholy acceleration as the e-diff sorts itself, but after that, bliss. Even with the stiffer suspension, it’s not brutal. I’d drive it anywhere.
Chevrolet could have served up another very competent front-engine Corvette, but instead delivered a car that’s still clearly a Corvette, but one that causes teenage boys to swoon and little girls to scream. Continuing another Corvette tradition, the C8 is one a heck of a deal. Base models start at $58,900, but rose to $79,315 as tested. That’s a pittance compared to the Porsche Boxster, Acura NSX, and Ford GT.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette Z51
- Two-passenger, RWD Coupe
- Powertrain: 6.2-liter V8, 10-spd trans
- Output: 495hp/470 lb.-ft. torque
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
- Wheels f/r: 19”/20” alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Comfort, Performance
- 0-60 mph: 2.9s
- Fuel economy: 15/27 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: Bowling Green, KY
- Base/As-tested price: $58,900/$79,315
Casey Willams – WFYI
From design to specs and pricing, here’s what you should know about the iconic American sports car as it enters its second year as a mid-engine speedster.
Is there a more American car than the Chevrolet Corvette? The Ford Mustang fan base may quibble with the thought, but there’s no denying that countless enthusiasts believe it to be true. And because of that, each new iteration of the sports car stokes excitement among Chevy loyalists. But it had been decades since the announcement of a new ‘Vette garnered as much anticipation as the unveiling of the eighth-generation model last year.
That’s because, after years of rumors and speculation, the 2020 C8 Corvette Stingray was the first iteration of the model to feature a mid-engine layout. For Corvette diehards, that news was momentous. After all, moving the engine back would almost certainly allow the car to compete more directly with its high-performance European peers. Yet, it would also likely alter its signature look—a mid-engine placement would mean a new frame. Indeed, Chevy took the opportunity to completely reimagine the Corvette’s design, discarding more than a few signature features for the new C8, including the elongated nose of its predecessors. The result is a sports car that looks primed to compete for attention, not only with American devotees, but with collectors of European supercars as well.
The 2020 C8 Corvette Stingray Chevrolet
Engine, Specs and Performance
Any discussion about the C8 Corvette can only begin in one place: the engine. After 67 years of commitment to a front-engine configuration for the Corvette, Chevrolet decided to kick off the new decade by repositioning the car’s powerhouse behind the driver and passenger seats. And this isn’t just any old engine—it’s a brand-new, naturally aspirated 6.2-liter LT2 V-8.
While that base motor, which is mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, isn’t all that different from the one featured in the C7, it is more powerful, bringing a solid 490 hp of grunt and 465 ft lbs of torque. The new power train enables the car to rocket from zero to 60 mph in less than three seconds. The C8 can also complete the quarter-mile in just over 11 seconds and reach a top speed of 184 mph. And if that’s not enough for you, a Z51 performance package will boost the horsepower and torque figures to 495 hp and 470 ft lbs, respectively, giving all other performance numbers a lift as well. One thing to note: There is only one transmission option, something that has caused consternation among the faithful.
To help manage all that power, the C8 Corvette has a Driver Mode Selector that allows you to pick from six driving modes, including Tour, Sport, Track, Weather, MyMode and Z Mode (the latter two of which are customizable). It’s also equipped with a four-wheel anti-lock brake system, with disc brakes and four-piston calipers on each wheel. The Z51 package also includes an electronic limited-slip differential, new final drive ratio, improved cooling system for the brakes, an enhanced suspension and a performance exhaust.
A New Exterior
Like any other vehicle, the iconic sports car has seen its shape and design shift since it was introduced in 1953. But from generation to generation, no design overhaul has been as jarring as the C8’s. For that last 25 years or so—about the time the C5 debuted in the mid ’90s—we’ve been able to see the previous generation of ‘Vettes within the new iteration’s design. That stops with the C8.
Chevrolet used the change in layout as a chance to alter the ‘Vette’s profile, discarding some of its trademark features. Gone is the long, signature nose and slightly squared-off back. The front still comes to a peak, but the rest of the lines and angles are sharper and the cockpit has been moved forward. That shift rids the car of the slinky elegance that’s been a part of its shape since the ’60s but gives its a new boldness. This is a vehicle designed for speed, and it looks like it. The new design, which is available as both a coupe and convertible, gives the American vehicle a decidedly more European aesthetic.
Inside the C8 Corvette Chevrolet
Interior, Infotainment and Cargo
But it’s not just the car’s exterior that’s been given a makeover. Open up the C8’s doors and you’ll find a cabin that actually looks like the cockpit of a futuristic fighter jet. Sit down in the low-slung driver seat and you’re met with a rectangular steering wheel, which includes two large paddle shifters. Behind that is a 12-inch digital instrument cluster, which includes a new tachometer, to help keep track of your vehicle and its performance as you drive.
Embedded into the center console is an 8-inch infotainment screen that’s angled toward the driver. It’s equipped with Chevy’s Infotainment 3 Plus system, which features Bluetooth connectivity, a 4G mobile hotspot and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The vehicle is also equipped with a high-performance, 14-speaker Bose audio system that is sure to be music to any audiophile’s ears. You’ll also have three different styles of bucket seats to choose from, as well as a variety of color and material options, including Napa leather and suede microfiber. And for those worried about cargo space due to the design changes, the C8 offers a front compartment and rear trunk that still has room for two sets of golf clubs.
The C8 Corvette’s Infotainment 3 Plus system Chevrolet
Like anyone else interested in high-performance vehicles, we were excited to get behind the wheel of the 2020 Corvette. But that test-drive through Nevada made one thing abundantly clear: While definitely a step in the right direction—and an incredible vehicle for its price—the new C8 wasn’t fully ready to shine. This is a car, after all, that wants to be mentioned in the same breath as Lamborghinis and McLarens, but it simply didn’t feel fully refined yet. From our “First Drive” write-up earlier this year:
“The new ‘Vette is a remarkable achievement for something starting under $60,000, but it’ll be a while before the C8 matures into the outstanding machine I’m confident it can be. Maybe that machine is the forthcoming Stingray convertible. Maybe it’s an eventual higher-powered Corvette variant. Either way, I feel the magic looming.”
Of course, it’s important to remember that the 2020 model is the very first installment of the C8. On average, different ‘Vette generations have managed to stick around for more than eight years. That gives the brand some time to improve the car—and find that magic.
Pricing: Is the Corvette C8 Worth It?
When Chevrolet first announced the mid-engine C8 Corvette, they promised it would start at less than $60,000. As far-fetched as that sounded at the time, the automaker delivered on that promise. Just like last year, the ‘Vette starts at $59,995 for the coupe and $67,495 for the convertible. Of course, with a near-endless list of options and trim levels, its price can quickly climb skywards, with a fully loaded convertible available for north of $100,000. Still, when you consider the kind of vehicles that the C8 is competing with, even the most expensive version seems like a bargain in comparison.
What’s Next: More Ways to Customize
As promising as the C8 Corvette may be, its first year has gone anything but smoothly. First, the United Auto Workers strikes delayed production of the eagerly anticipated vehicle, then the coronavirus pandemic brought the entire world to a standstill Chevy has responded by offering more standard features and a raft of exciting new options for the car’s second go-around.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now come standard with the C8, as does a redesigned digital cluster and GM’s Buckle to Drive safety tech. As for the new options, there are two exterior finishes to choose from (Red Mist Tintcoat and Silver Flare Metallic), two new interior color schemes (Sky Cool Grey and Yellow Strike) and you can add racing or stinger stripes. Most exciting of all, though, is that the Magnetic Ride Control from the Z51 performance package is now available as a stand-alone option.
If none of that sounds sexy enough for you, don’t worry. Rumors are swirling that a high-performance Z06 variant packing a 600 hp, DOHC 32-valve 5.5-liter V-8 could arrive as soon as next year.
Get to know the 2021 Corvette before you order one.
The Corvette C8 is among the hottest commodities of 2020. Despite the on-going pandemic, fans and enthusiasts were crazy for the mid-engine sports car, which keeps Chevrolet so busy producing and fulfilling the orders for the rest of the year. So much so, in fact, that the 2021 model year is already underway.
If you’re unaware of the new things to see on the 2021 Corvette, Chevy puts its visualizer out there so you can, ugh, visualize what to expect for the next model year for both the coupe and convertible versions. We’ve configured our own coupe with these updates, which you can see below.
Notice what’s new? If not, here’s a rundown. For the 2021 model year, Chevy adds two new exterior body colors – the Silver Flare Metallic (seen above) and Red Mist Metallic Tintcoat. Both colors will replace similar hues from the outgoing model year. The Stinger Stripe gets three new colors as well, which will be Carbon Flash/Edge Red, Carbon Flash/Edge Yellow, and Carbon Flash/Midnight Silver. For those who like a set of full-length stripes, Blue, Orange, Red, and Yellow will be available as options.
Inside, there are only a few things added, led by the new Sky Cool Gray/Yellow Strike interior color. The infotainment system also gets wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capabilities, which will be standard across the range.
The updates aren’t all aesthetics for the 2021 model year. The Magnetic Selective Ride Control suspension can now be ordered even outside the Z51 package. A Buckle To Drive safety feature will also be standard. This feature won’t allow you to shift from Park if you haven’t buckled up for more than 20 seconds.
There won’t be any price change for the 2021 Chevy Corvette, at least for the base model, but there are reports that options and higher trims will cost higher. More importantly, it seems like it will be a long wait even if you order for one today. Source: Chevrolet
Jacob Olivia for Motor 1
That certainly sounds like a flat-plane engine.
The Corvette switching to a mid-engine layout is huge news, but it’s not the only major change happening with the car. In October, Chevy revealed the race-ready C8.R, now packing a naturally aspirated 5.5-liter flat-plane crank V-8 engine—a big step away from the pushrod V-8s found in the new road car and last-generation race car. A Chevy engineer confirmed the engine would make its way to a road-going Corvette, and this test car is likely it.
GMAuthority.com managed to snag a video (above) of what seems to be the next-generation Z06 accelerating through the entrance of General Motors’ Milford Proving Grounds back in June. The car’s looks aren’t what interests us—it’s the sound. Unlike the normal Corvette, which has a traditional, deep pushrod V-8 noise we’re familiar with, this one sounds more like the flat-plane C8.R. It has more in common sound-wise with a Ferrari 458 than it does with any Corvette.
Though Chevy hasn’t officially confirmed it, the dual-overhead-cam flat-plane V-8 will likely be the engine powering the C8 Z06. In the race car, it uses direct injection, and makes around 500 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque, according to engineers. It’s expected to make more in the road car. We’re curious to see what Chevy has in store.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this engine. Back in January, Facebook user Jim Lill shared a video (below) to the C8 Corvette Owners group showing what looks to be a heavily camouflaged Corvette testing in the mountains east of San Diego on a cloudy afternoon.
Though Chevy hasn’t officially confirmed it, the dual-overhead-cam flat-plane V-8 will likely be the engine powering the C8 Z06. In the race car, it uses direct injection, and makes around 500 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque, according to engineers. It’s expected to make more in the road car. We’re curious to see what Chevy has in store.
Brian Silvestro for Road and Track
We’ve been expecting to hear this news and finally today it has been confirmed by Chevrolet that the new 2020 Corvette Stingray will be the official Pace Car of the 104th Indianapolis 500. This marks the 17th race that Corvette has served as the official Pace Car, and the 31st Chevrolet to lead the field.
This year’s running of the Indy 500 will take place on Sunday, August 23 with the race being shown live on NBC.
With no fans allowed in attendance this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the official pace car driver will be GM President Mark Reuss.
“It’s truly an honor to have the opportunity to be behind the wheel of the mid-engine Corvette Pace Car at such a historic race as the Indy 500,” said GM President Mark Reuss. “The 2020 Corvette Stingray is the result of a close collaboration between the Corvette Racing and production engineering teams, setting a new benchmark for supercars around the world.”
The 2020 Corvette Stingray Pace Car is Torch Red and features the high Wing Spoiler and ground effects package. The Z51 Coupe will also wear the 104th Indy 500 livery on the doors. The new 2020 Stingray is capable of accelerating from 0-60 in 2.9 seconds and has a top speed of 194 mph, so it should have no trouble in setting the pace for the IndyCar racers.
“This is a continuation of our outstanding partnership with Chevrolet,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles said. “We’re so grateful for all that Chevrolet has contributed to the success of our events. The Torch Red 2020 Corvette Stingray is a world-class machine rich with speed, performance and excitement, perfectly suited to pace the ‘500′ field.”
Chevrolet has been linked to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with both entities founded in 1911. Company founder and namesake Louis Chevrolet and his brothers Arthur and Gaston raced in the early 500-mile races with Gaston winning the race in 1920. Today, Louis Chevrolet rests in peace in a local Indianapolis cemetery just 15 minutes away from the track.
This afternoon we came across this Facebook post from Corvette Exterior Design Manager Kirk Bennion sharing these words from fellow GM designer Adam Barry who led the project. The 2020 Corvette Pace Car features a number of items from Genuine Corvette Accessories as discussed:
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
A small donation to Ronald McDonald House could permanently put you in the driver’s seat of the fastest production Corvette yet!
Commonly referred to as “America’s Sports Car”, the Chevrolet Corvette has been offering thrills since its big unveiling back in 1953. With 60 years of production over eight generation designs, the all-new C8 Corvette is a game-changer. For the first time, the model is powered by a mid-mounted V8 engine. Even the C8’s body was drastically redesigned for aerodynamics, but stunning enough to stop car enthusiasts dead in their tracks. Get get your hands on the fastest production Corvette yet – a 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Z51 with 3Lz trim. A small donation to the Ronald McDonald House will enter you into the drawing for this incredible C8. Enter the code WIN here to receive double entries!
Finished in a stunning Elkhart Lake Blue Metallic, the exterior is nothing short of magnificent. On all four corners sit staggered 5-spoke Carbon Flash-painted aluminum wheels (19-inch front, 20-inch rear) wrapped with sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber. Further complementing the exterior is the addition of a high-wing Carbon Flash rear spoiler and an exposed carbon fiber ground effects kit. Open the doors to a stunning black interior that features carbon fiber trim and GT2 bucket seats.
Powered by a mid-mounted 6.2-liter LT2 V8 engine with an appearance package, the new C8 generates 495-horsepower and 470 lb/ft of torque that can propel this car from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a lightning quick 2.9 seconds. Sending that power down to the rear wheels is an 8-speed Dual Clutch automatic transmission. The Z51 Package gives this aggressive Corvette a unique Z51 adjustable performance suspension, an electronic limited-slip differential, an altered axle ratio, large Z51 Brembo brakes, a sport exhaust, enhanced cooling, and improved traction.
If you’re looking for a car that is can drive to the track, smoke the competition, and then drive home, look no further than this performance-oriented 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Z51. Even if the track isn’t your thing, this would make one head-turning daily driver. A small donation to the Ronald McDonald House will enter you into the drawing for this incredible C8. Enter the code WIN here to receive double entries! The Ronald McDonald House helps support families to stay close to their child while they receive treatment at a local hospital.
*Actual Corvette may vary from images above based on availability.*
Amie Williams for Motorious