The new C8 Corvette is a major break from tradition, transforming the Chevrolet Corvette nameplate with a brand-new mid-engine layout and even higher performance potential. With so much good stuff on offer, the C8 needed a modern exterior restyle to go with it, something that would accommodate the new powertrain placement. Now, we’re getting a look at a stylized C8 Corvette sketch, courtesy of GM Design.
Recently posted to the official GM Design Instagram feed (@generalmotorsdesign), this C8 Corvette design sketch is highly stylized, showing off the overall shape of the new mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette, but without too many details. In fact, the sketch looks as though it shows a single hunk of aluminum that was whittled down to look like the new C8.
The proportions are pure mid-engine goodness, with the cabin moved forward on the body, pushing the eye towards a cone-shaped nose that slants down towards the pavement at an aggressive angle. The front end is flanked by two hugely flared front fenders, which wrap around a concave shape for the wheels. Inside the wheels, we find a V-shaped design that looks a bit like the crossed flag Corvette logo.
Moving along the profile of the sketch, we see a clear C8 Corvette design element in the prominent wide side intakes. The intakes flair out ahead of the rear wheels in a “boomerang” shape that adds tons of visual punch, while also teeing up the ultra-wide rear fender flairs.
The open space created by the side intake is shared by the top of the cabin, which falls away into a relatively flat rear deck lid. Finishing it all off is a blade-like rear spoiler section, which is complemented by thin tail lights and another V-shaped badge. Under the spoiler is the suggestion of a diffuser.
All told, the look is aggressive, sleek, and attractive – just like the C8 Corvette.
Johnathan Lopez- GM Authority
And there’s still more in the tank.
The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C8 has been hailed as a performance bargain since it first arrived on the scene, but if you’re saving money on the cost of a car, that just means you have more money left over to make it even faster and better. For some, that can even include altering its appearance for a more exotic look. But while some prefer technical circuit racing, where the C8 excels too, the most popular form of motorsport in America is arguably drag racing. We know that a standard C8 with 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque can clock a 10-second quarter-mile, but now someone has made it into the nines.
Extreme Turbo Systems, a company famous for mind-blowingly powerful Nissan GTRs, has just set a new record for the C8, achieving a time of 9.95 seconds at 144 mph. Naturally, this required some extensive modifications, with the ETS C8 receiving new Mahle pistons Ferrea and valves, Mickey Thompson drag radial tires, a bespoke intercooler with an ice box, and direct port methanol injection. As imperative as these mods are, it’s the addition of Precision turbochargers with 46 millimeter wastegates that truly elevates the ETS C8 to a new level.
With 13 psi of boost, this Stingray produces 872 hp. 18 psi generates 980 horses, and then 20 psi gets the team into quadruple digits with an astonishing 1,021 hp. That’s more than double what the car comes with in stock form.
But as any racing enthusiast will tell you, a dyno run does not prove that your car is fast. Thus, ETS headed to Woodburn Dragstrip to lay down some rubber, and despite battling some launch control and transmission issues, achieved some incredible figures. At 11 psi, a time of 10.49 seconds was achieved at 141 mph. Turned up to 13.5 psi, the C8 managed 10.05 at 145 mph. Being that close to the single digits with no breakages, it only makes sense to turn it up again. Interestingly, although the team achieved 9.95 at 144 mph, this was done with just 15 psi, meaning less than 980 hp. Assuming that transmission and launch issues can be resolved and more power put down, this car may achieve mid-nine-second passes very soon.
Spoiler alert: Chevrolet’s fabled $60K C8 Corvette is the performance bargain of the year.
More than its 3-second 0-to-60-mph time, its 1.0 G of cornering grip or the fact that, you know, its engine sits behind the cockpit, the craziest thing about Chevrolet’s new C8 Corvette Stingray is that everything I just mentioned comes on a wildly styled sports car that costs $59,995 — including the delivery fee. No other car offers so much performance for so little cash.
Real quick, though, I need to be honest: I kind of figured the $59,995 Corvette would be the car world’s white whale. You know, the C8 that grabs headlines for its low MSRP even though the reviews all feature more generously specced 3LT Z51 models, like the nearly $87,000 example Andrew Krok just tested, the one Tim Stevens took to the track or the one Chris Paukert first drove last year. I assumed it’d be like the headline-grabbing-but-nowhere-to-be-found $35,000 Tesla Model 3. So, good on Chevy for calling my bluff and sending me the no-options, $59,995 Corvette seen here. Because now I can say it again, and this time with feeling: No other car offers so much performance for so little cash.
The base 2020 Chevy Corvette is a whole lot of car for $60K
The base Corvette 1LT has the same 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 as every other Stingray, with 490 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. Working through an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission, the rear-wheel-drive Corvette will accelerate to 60 mph in 3 seconds flat, and do so without any overdramatic or skittish tendencies. Even on its stock all-season tires, the wide, 305/30-section rear rubbers simply claw into the pavement and shoot the Stingray forward.
The V8 sounds freakin’ awesome on full boil near its (relatively low) 6,500-rpm redline, even without the performance exhaust. I don’t like the transmission’s paddle shifters — most automakers get these wrong — but they’re a direct link to the quick-shifting DCT, which is also perfectly tuned when left to its own devices. The steering is communicative and nicely weighted, letting me know exactly how much grip those all-season tires have. And the standard limited-slip differential means power is appropriately distributed at the rear axle, so you can goose the throttle coming out of a corner without breaking the back end loose. The brakes are strong and offer confident, composed stopping without fade. The standard chassis tune is really good, too — comfortable when you need it to be but nicely taut when it counts.
The key thing you miss out on with the base Corvette is the almighty Z51 pack, which includes larger Brembo brakes and Chevy’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension with adaptive damping and performance traction management tech. You also can’t get the sportier exhaust, which in turn unlocks an additional 5 hp and 5 lb-ft and actually pushes the Corvette’s 0-to-60-mph time below the 3-second barrier, as if this car wasn’t already holy-smokes quick.
But here’s the thing: On several runs along my usual canyon test route north of Los Angeles, nothing about this base Corvette lets me down. It’s clear that even the most stripped-down C8 is a fantastic driver’s car through and through. In fact, it’s one of the most memorable sports cars I’ve tested this year — especially at this price. Frankly, all the Corvette most people really need.
The only real limitation here is the choice of all-season tires. But even then, I don’t think the majority of Corvette owners will ever exceed the limits of what the Michelin Pilot Sport rubbers can muster (Chevy says they’re good for 1.0 G of lateral grip, remember). If for some reason you find yourself needing something stickier, a whole slew of summer options are available from tire shops around the country. Besides, a $1,500 set of Pilot Sport Cup 2s is slightly easier to justify on what is, effectively, a $60,000 supercar.
And I do mean supercar. Just look at this thing; not a single part of the 1LT’s appearance says “base Corvette.” You get the same staggered 19-inch front and 20-inch wheels as other trims, and I don’t have any qualms with the standard silver-painted look. Every Corvette comes with sharp LED headlamps and nothing about the long, low, wide proportions changes from model to model.
The Corvette’s interior is hardly basic, with perforated leather wrapping the standard GT1 seats. And while these chairs aren’t as comfortable as supportive as more expensive GT2 and GT3 options, I can’t find a reason to complain. The seating position is excellent and never leaves me sliding around during spirited driving. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels great, too, though I hate its squircle shape, which doesn’t really lend itself to nine-and-three hand placement.
As far as in-car tech is concerned, the Corvette offers some of GM’s best. That 12-inch digital gauge cluster is standard across the board and it looks awesome, with colorful, reconfigurable displays. Move to the center stack and Chevy’s Infotainment 3 setup is housed on a eight-inch, high-definition touchscreen. Upper trim levels include embedded navigation, but the C8 comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, so if you have a phone and a USB cable, you’re all set.
Taken as a whole, however, the 2020 Corvette Stingray 1LT is a sports-car bargain that’s absolutely unmatched. Chevrolet’s more expensive versions offer more creature comforts and widen the performance envelope, sure, but I’ll be damned if this base Corvette isn’t hugely impressive in its own right. Good luck finding a comparable experience for $59,995 out the door.
Steven Ewing for CNET
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
here and in Part 2 next month.
here and in Part 2 next month.
New engine configuration changes everything
GM engineering went into preliminary design knowing they’d be working on a mid-engine vehicle — the first production Corvette in eight generations to sport that configuration. “We evolved the front-engine architecture as far as we could for performance, so shifting to a mid-engine design was the next logical step to improve an already great car and be the segment leader,” explains GM’s Tadge Juechter, executive chief engineer-Global Corvette. Equipped with the Z51 performance package, the 2020 Corvette Stingray can accelerate 0-60 mph (0-97 kmh) in 2.9 seconds and reach top speeds of 194 mph (312 kmh). Pushing the engine toward the vehicle’s rear affected many things, including the car’s center of gravity, the relative position of occupants, transmission location and design of underbody panels and trunk storage. The mid-engine design also introduced higher operating temperatures and noise to new areas of the car.
The eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette — all eight generations (C1-C8) shown above, left to right respectively — from General Motors Co. started production earlier this year. This mid-engine sports car is not only impressively fast, and the most composites-intensive Corvette yet, but it features an array of genuinely innovative composites applications. Source | General Motors Co.
“Because of the mid-engine, we had to do things differently,” explains Ed Moss, Corvette body structure engineering group manager. “From the start, we had so many discussions about how to lay out the body structure. At one point, everything was on the table as we discussed the best way to design and build each system. For example, we debated metallic versus composite for wheelhouses. If we’d kept the C7’s composite wheelhouses, we’d have to bond to the hinge pillar [A pillar], which is immediately adjacent to the front wheel in a mid-engine vehicle, leaving very little package space. We went with metal there. We even briefly discussed metal versus composite body panels. However, it would’ve been economically infeasible to create the C8’s styling lines in metallics.”
“A real challenge we faced was how to handle air induction,” recalls Chris Basela, Corvette body structure lead engineer, explaining the need for a different method to funnel cooling air into and across the naturally aspirated, 495-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 engine, which generates 470 foot-pounds (637 Newton-meters) of torque. “We tried all kinds of designs that forced air to take really torturous paths, creating eddies and flows we didn’t want. It took lots of iterative work with the powertrain team to develop the best path for airflow because the car needs to breathe freely with no restriction. We also needed access to the air box and had to work around rear trunk space. Another issue was heat and engine noise in the passenger compartment, because occupants no longer sit behind the engine but are positioned directly in front of it. And we were especially conscious of cabin air quality as laws had changed in Europe and elsewhere since the C7, so we worked really hard to reduce VOCs [volatile organic compounds].”
“Even working out how to assemble the car was a challenge,” adds Moss. “With a front-engine design, you have a long hood and large engine compartment, providing operators plenty of room to build the car from inside the compartment, even with the front bumper beam already welded on. On the mid-engine Corvette, with its very short front clip, we keep the front of the car open as the vehicle is built out, then bolt on the front bumper.”
“It was quite a balancing act to get the proper shapes, while ensuring our suppliers could produce the parts and our team in Bowling Green [GM’s Kentucky-based Corvette assembly plant] could assemble them,” continues Basela. “In the end, there was only one carryover composite from the C7’s body to the C8.” This was tough Class A, 1.2 specific gravity (SG) sheet molding compound (SMC) developed for the 2016 Corvette and used in a variety of exterior closures on the new vehicle.
For four generations (C5-C8), Corvettes have featured a three-layer, multi-material body structure: the frame, usually a mix of aluminum or steel — this time with a carbon fiber-reinforced composite (CFRP) part; the body structure, which is largely bonded composite to capitalize on design and manufacturing flexibility; plus bolt-on closeouts (body panels), which have been composite since Covette’s June 1953 debut. This layered hybrid structure not only provides affordable lightweighting in high production volumes — particularly for cars of this performance class — but also permits multiple vehicle variants to be produced at low tooling investment. In fact, for the current C8, GM managed to produce all Class A composite body panels (bonded inners and outers) on both the base model coupé and convertible using just 20 tools.
GM and its suppliers have already won many awards for innovative composites use on the 2020 Corvette Stingray. Among those standing above are key GM engineering team members at last November’s 49th annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala, where GM won SPE Automotive Div.’s Vehicle Engineering Team Award. A number of composite parts on the vehicle also were finalists or category winners at the event. Source | SPE Automotive Div.
In addition, Corvettes have always been engineered with an open-roof architecture, regardless of whether they are actually convertibles or coupés with fixed or removable roof panels. Because open-roof vehicles are generally less stiff than those with fixed roofs, an important focus for each Corvette’s engineering is always to create the stiffest foundation possible to improve suspension and steering. Historically, tunnels(housing transmissions and driveshafts on front-engine vehicles) have dominated Corvette body structures and have been key enablers for achieving high torsional rigidity. In the case of the new Corvette, GM achieved even higher rigidity. With the roof removed, the C8 body is 53.78% stiffer than a benchmark high-performance mid-engine competitor, 29.27% stiffer than a second high-performance mid-engine competitor, and 13.79% stiffer than the C7. Two composite parts made important contributions to vehicle stiffness—one directly attached to the frame structure (rear bumper beam) and another attached to the underbody (lower tunnel closeout).
The C8’s frame is largely aluminum alloy with one CFRP part developed to meet GM’s stringent dollar-per-kilogram targets. In contrast, the C7 frame was all-aluminum and the C6 was mostly steel.
The only composite part directly mounted to the frame that travels with the body-in-white (BIW) through the electrophoretic rust-coat process (which GM calls ELPO), is a unique CFRP rear bumper beam. This part helps stiffen the frame and contributes to rear-impact performance. Its curved shape — possible thanks to a novel process called radius pultrusion developed by Thomas GmbH + Co. Technik + Innovation KG (TTI, Bremervörde, Germany) — enables it to match rear styling cues and fit in limited package space while maintaining dimensional integrity close to engine-bay heat. As the auto industry’s first curved pultruded part (see our full feature on this part in the CW May 2020 issue), the hollow, two-chambered beam was produced by Shape Corp. (Grand Haven, Mich., U.S.) on equipment developed and built by TTI. The beam weighs just 1.3 kilograms and features a bonded/bolted tow-hook eye capable of 25 kilonewtons of pull-out force.
An auto industry first, the 2020 Corvette sports a curved rear bumper beam in pultruded carbon fiber composite produced with 87 individual carbon tows and eight carbon fiber non-crimp fabrics (NCFs) impregnated with polyurethane-acrylate resin. The hollow, two-chambered beam is 66% lighter than the outgoing aluminum beam and met GM’s demanding dollar-per-kilogram targets. Source | Shape Corp.
Body Structure: part A
Virtually all of the C8’s body structure components are composite and are bonded and/or bolted to the frame after the latter undergoes ELPO. Notable composite parts at this level include structural underbody closures and the floor — which we’ll cover in this issue — and front and rear trunks, induction ducts and the rear surround and bulkhead — which we’ll cover, along with body panels and trim, next month.
This hybrid-composite, lower-tunnel closeout is produced using a variant of liquid compression molding. It eliminated secondary attachments, lowered mass by 3 kilograms and reduced labor, tooling and capital costs vs. aluminum. Source | SPE Automotive Div.
The removable lower-tunnel structural closeout on the C8, which acts as an access door, contributes more than 10% of the vehicle’s torsional rigidity and acts as a primary load path during a crash. This hybrid-composite panel consists of three layers of glass fiber preform. These consist of continuous/woven and chopped/random fibers at 38% fiber volume fraction (FVF), with veils added to top and bottom face layers on each stack for improved surface finish. Glass preforms are interleaved with two layers of preforms made using Toray (Tokyo, Japan) T700 12K standard-modulus carbon fiber in the form of NCF biaxial fabric at 21% FVF and a vinyl ester (VE) matrix. The closeout is produced by Molded Fiber Glass Co. (MFG, Ashtabula, Ohio, U.S.) using its proprietary PRiME (Prepositioned Reinforcement ensuring Manufacturing Excellence) process, a type of liquid compression molding (LCM).
Aside from a single aluminum closeout near the rear wheels that is part of the engine cradle, the remaining underbody panels consist of either compression molded SMC or injection molded thermoplastics. Among other benefits, these panels reduce underbody turbulence and drag, improve fuel efficiency and keep moisture, dust and stones out of the vehicle’s engine and driveline. Further, they provide the dimensional foundation for multiple exterior and interior interfaces.
The low-density but structural SMC panels feature new formulations (in this case, 40% FVF chopped fiberglass/unsaturated polyester (UP) resin) developed by MFG. The material is called “float” SMC because each panel’s density is less than 1.0 (average SG=0.97) and thus can float in water. MFG produced all structural SMC and LCM’d parts on the car.
An important contributor to vehicle lightweighting on the C8 is the extensive use of “float” SMC. With specific gravity values less than 1.0, this low-density but structural SMC developed by MFG is used in a variety of non-Class A parts, including underbody panels, the dash panel, air-induction ductwork and the front trunk. Source | Molded Fiber Glass Co.
The vehicle also sports a hybrid floor optimized for torsional bending and side-pole impact protection (engaging the rocker panels and tunnel, to which it is joined). Floor panels feature cabin-facing stamped aluminum bonded to sheets of road-facing 1.5-SG composite (60 wt-% continuous and woven glass fiber/VE) produced via the PRiME process. Before heat-bonding both layers with Pliogrip 9100 polyurethane structural adhesive from Ashland Global Holdings Inc. (Wilmington, Del., U.S.), MFG cleans and preps the materials.
All composite parts directly bonded to the C8 frame are first subjected to laser ablation, a process developed by GM, MFG and Adapt Laser Systems LLC (Kansas City, Mo., U.S.) for the 2016 Corvette, and adapted from a composites industry method for mold cleaning. Laser ablation replaces hand sanding and reduces labor, time and cost, eliminates dust and improves repeatability. Laser path, angle of attack and energy level are customizable for each part’s material and geometry. To maximize manufacturing flexibility, the entire underbody, including the floor, is connected to the frame and itself via bonding and screws.
In the August issue of CW, we’ll continue covering composites innovation on the new Corvette, resuming with additional components at the body structures level and finishing with exterior closures (body panels), plus additional trim and upgrades.
Peggy Malnati for Composites World
Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent his whole life chasing meaningful rewards.
He waited for a pat on the back from his famous father, worked diligently to generate compliments from crew members and other drivers, and reveled in the roar of his fans — those he inherited from his father and the new ones he brought along for the ride.
NASCAR’s longtime fan favorite received the sport’s biggest honor Tuesday, when he was selected to join his father in the series’ Hall of Fame. Earnhardt will be inducted in Charlotte, North Carolina, along with the late Mike Stefanik and 87-year-old Red Farmer, who is planning to race on Talladega’s dirt track this weekend. Ralph Seagraves was named the Landmark Award winner for his contributions to the sport.
Despite never winning a series championship, Earnhardt received 76% of the votes cast on the modern era ballot.
“Just talking about it, it’s really emotional because I feed off affirmation,” he said wistfully. “It’s such a great feeling to know people think I made an impact. I know what my numbers are, and I feel like I was chosen because of that, but also for the impact I made off the track, being an ambassador for the sport.”
Junior’s grandfather, Ralph, went into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1997 and was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. Junior’s father, The Intimidator, also made the list, even before finishing his career with 76 wins and a record-tying seven Cup titles.
The team-owning father gave Dale Jr. his first big break: a full-time ride in the Busch Series in 1998. It didn’t take long for Junior to prove he was a natural — on and off the track.
He won Busch championships in each of his first two seasons and two races as a rookie Cup driver in 2000.
When the elder Earnhardt was killed during the 2001 Daytona 500, Junior suddenly found himself in a place he never imagined.
“I knew when Dad died, I was going to assume most if not all of his fan base, and I feel like I took care of that,” he said. “I didn’t squander that, I didn’t ruin that, and I also introduced myself to a lot of people who never heard of Dale Earnhardt.”
Suddenly, the brash, 26-year-old Earnhardt emerged as the face of the sport and started adding his chapter to the family legacy. He won 26 races — including two Daytona 500s and the 2001 Pepsi 400, the first Cup race held at Daytona after his father’s death — before retiring as a full-time Cup driver following the 2017 season.
Fans watched to see if he could replicate the fearless style that made his father so popular. But Junior never tried to compete with that image.
“There was a point in my career where I started to think I’m not going to win seven championships; I might not even win one. I’m not going to win 100 races; I might not even win 40,” he said. “There were a lot of people that wanted me to be as successful as he was and be as aggressive as he was and spin people out or whatever. So I started to think about what I could do outside of that and what else I could do to help the sport.”
Junior introduced new fans to stock car racing through different news outlets, social media and podcasts. The result: 15 consecutive Most Popular Driver awards.
Stefanik won seven titles in NASCAR’s modified series and two more in the Busch North series. His nine total championships are tied with that of Richie Evans for the most in NASCAR history, and Stefanik was named the second-greatest driver in modified history in 2003.
Stefanik, who died from injuries sustained in a plane crash in September in Connecticut at age 61, edged Ricky Rudd for the second spot on the ballot with 49% of the vote.
“Phenomenal when you think about what he did. Nine championships,” Kyle Petty said during NBCSN’s announcement show. “Phenomenal record, phenomenal amount of wins.”
The 87-year-old Farmer won four Late Model Sportsman season titles and an estimated 700 to 900 races. He was a member of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers and became a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2004. This week, with the big series returning to Talladega, he’s scrambling to put together a car for two nights of racing on the dirt track across the street.
“I had a little fender bender in a 40-lapper last weekend,” he said. “They had a three- or four-car pileup right in front of me, and I slid into it and messed up the nose pretty good. So I’m getting my backup car ready.”
An executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Seagraves helped spearhead Winston’s decision to sponsor NASCAR’s premier series from 1971 to 2003. Winston’s financial support allowed many tracks to upgrade their facilities, and the season-long points fund bolstered purses for drivers and teams.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Many gearheads have a strange affinity to Hot Wheels. Here is everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the company, but never asked.
Toy cars can be divided into two categories: Hot Wheels and everybody else. For over 50 years, Mattel has dominated with what is now recognized as the best-selling toy in the world. It’s impossible to count how many car buffs, from mechanics to real race stars to TV personalities, grew up playing with these cars. Whether it was just a few models or massive collections, Hot Wheels has been part of car culture for decades and is never going to stop. Whether it’s a simple model or some fancy licensed vehicle, Hot Wheels simply enthralls.
Yet it’s incredible how some people are unaware of the facts of the company and its history. From its unique origins to how these cars are put together, the story behind Hot Wheels is fascinating. There are also touches from how some of these cars are more expensive than real ones to some unique touches on the culture. Here are 20 amazing facts about Hot Wheels to prove they’re more than just “kids toys.”‘
20/20 Real-Life Hot Wheels Jump Was A World Record
Growing up a massive Hot Wheels fan, racer Tanner Foust decided to honor them in a fun way. At the 2011 Indy 500, Foust talked the management into seeing up a massive orange ramp and raced down it in a rally car.
After 90 feet of track, Foust sailed 332 feet, the longest record for such a move. He topped it by driving through a 66-foot loop in 2012 to live out the dreams of every kid.
19 Technology In Car Building Is Amazing…
Making toys has become a very high-tech business today. Just like real car companies, Hot Wheels has adapted to the 21st century nicely. Computers and 3-D technology are utilized to make sure the designs are perfected before the building begins.
It also helps them keep on top of the latest car trends to ensure that today’s Hot Wheels are sleeker and more natural than the ones of the past.
18 But They’re Still Diecast
There are many toy car lines out there, but Hot Wheels is still the king of the bunch. The key reason is that, for all the advances in technology, every car is still diecast and built mostly by hand.
Even when cheaper materials are available, Mattel knows the diecast is what the fans want. It’s also helped in making customized cars at home for popular models. After 50 years, Mattel doesn’t want to mess with success and do away with diecast.
17 They’ve Worked With NASA
Hot Wheels have done a few astronaut-themed toys over the years. But that’s not the only connection they have with NASA. In 1998, they were able to work with the agency to create an exact replica of the Mars Rover, which landed on the Red Planet that very year.
They also worked with them in 2012 for scale models of the Curiosity rover. It’s amazing how the company got access to top-secret plans to make these toys.
16 Collectors Take It Seriously
Some may dismiss Hot Wheels as “just for kids.” But collectors take it more seriously than real automobiles. The 1969 Volkswagen Beach Bomb (only 16 prototypes were made) is known to go for at least $15,000.
Some rare models can go for a hundred grand, and collectors are always on the lookout for unique mint models. Entire museums are devoted to various cars as some Hot Wheels collections put legit car collectors to shame.
15 Scaling Down The Cars Was Tricky
A key to the company’s success is that they work with scores of real car companies to get looks at plans for their toy models. Yet it’s not so simple as just “make a smaller version.” The biggest challenge is to achieve the proper scale for the toys in a diecast model yet retain the details of the actual car.
That can be complex with some fancy vehicles. That every model has to be sized to fit the same tracks just adds to why it takes as long developing a toy car as a real one.
14 NASCAR Star Has The Record For The Longest Track
Ever since the Hot Wheels tracks were created, fans have been trying to top themselves making the most extended and most complex. A few have achieved great ones, but it’s fitting a NASCAR star holds the record for the longest.
In 2019, Joey Logano unveiled a 1,941-foot long track stretched across his garage. It weaves through his car collection with 1222 boosters before ending in Logano’s own 2018 HW Ford Mustang. Add yet another title to Logano’s list of accolades.
13 They Made A Car Coated In Diamonds
In 2008, Mattel made a big deal of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Hot Wheels line. As a special reward, Mattel had Jasons of Beverly Hills craft the most expensive Hot Wheels car on the planet.
Cast in 18-karat gold, it’s covered with 2700 diamonds and gems totaling nearly $150,000 today. It’s become a rotating exhibit at toy museums for the glitziest Hot Wheels you could see.
12 The Darth Car Is A Speed Machine
While they do stick to toys, the company has been busy creating some real-sized cars for collectors. One of the most notable is based on Darth Vader, with the hood looking like his fearsome helmet and in jet black.
This isn’t just for show as it’s based on a C5 Corvette with a GM LS3 V-8 engine capable of 526 hp and 150 mph. The Dark Lord of the Sith would be proud of this powerful craft.
11 Every Car Is Tested To Make Sure It Can Run A Track
Almost from the beginning, Hot Wheels car fans had to have a track with the cars. They’ve gone from straight lines to elaborate roller-coaster-like loop systems to leave kids entertained for hours.
What few realize is that the track determines if a car makes it as Mattel prides itself on “every car can fit every track.” More than once, a prototype has to be altered when it won’t fit as the track decides a car’s final form.
10 There Are More Hot Wheels Cars Than Real Cars
While it’s tricky to figure out for sure, most sources agree there are at least one billion cars on the planet (give or take a few hundred thousand in auto graveyards). In contrast, since 1968, six billion Hot Wheels cars have been created.
True, many have been trashed and/or recycled, and it’s impossible to count how many have been lost in backyards. But given how 16 cars are produced every second, it’s no shock the toys outnumber the real deals.
9 Several Creators Are Legit Car Designers
The one constant of Hot Wheels is that the cars look just as good as the real deal. There’s an excellent reason for that as scores of the manufacturers are legitimate car designers. Larry Wood was a veteran of Ford before becoming one of the first Hot Wheels designers.
He’s not alone as Jack Ryan was a rocket designer who crafted the bearings that made the cars so great. Scores of the car designers were in real automobiles first, so it’s no wonder the vehicles look so good.
8 The Original Camaro Is Worth A Fortune
Mint conditions of the Original 16 Hot Wheels releases are all pretty collectible items. But one dominates from the pack. While versions of a Camaro were produced, a few had white enamel paint.
They had been meant to discover flaws in a prototype but accidentally released. A mint version of one went for a hundred thousand dollars and made this one of the most expensive toys on the planet
7 They Released A Custom Corvette Before GM Did
An early standout for the company at a custom Corvette in 1968. What made it notable was that the toy was released before GM had their actual Corvette in car dealerships.
The fact designer Harry Bradley had worked at GM indicates he may have “borrowed” the designs before he left to allow Mattel to beat GM to releasing a Corvette to the masses.
6 The Red Stripes Are Expensive
If you find what looks like an old Hot Wheels car, take a good look at the wheels. If they have red stripes, then you’ve just found a fantastic collector’s item. From 1968 to 1977, designers hand-painted red lines onto the wheels to make the cars look distinctive.
As a cost-cutting measure, they switched to all-black wheels in 1978. Some mint condition red-striped vehicles have been known to go for thousands online.
5 One Of The Original Cars Was Based On A Car With No Doors
The first wave of Hot Wheels was just 16 cars, and any of them can be valuable today. One is notable, the 1965 Dodge Deora. This car boasted no doors but rather a hatch for folks to crawl into.
It was based on a fun design used by Mike and Larry Alexander but in an irony, no real Dodge Deoras were built, to make this a truly unique model
4 A Tie-In Cartoon Got Pulled By The FCC
Today, cartoons based on toy lines are commonplace. But in 1969, Hot Wheels got in trouble when they put out a cartoon series about some teenage car drivers. Despite good messages, the show was hit by complaints about being a “half-hour commercial.”
The FCC agreed, and it was yanked off the air. The company was just ahead of their time with a cartoon tie-in for a hit toy line.
3 There’s A Fight On Where The Name Came From
Much of Hot Wheels is shrouded in myth, and that includes just where the name comes from. The familiar story is that when Eliot Handler saw the first models from designer Fred Adickes, he remarked: “those are some hot wheels you’ve got there.”
Another version is that Handler just blurted the name out in a meeting with a designer. Regardless, it just stuck to become one of the most popular toys on the planet.
2 They’re Number One…Because They Remain So Cheap
In the ranks of the most popular toys on the planet, Hot Wheels dominates. They’re not just the biggest toy vehicle sellers but also the number one selling toy in the entire world. The reason is that in many markets, the cars can still go for only a dollar each.
True, they can be put out in packs, and some nations charging a few bucks more. But many stores do sell the cars for less than a bottle of water, which is the reason they are so dominant.
1 Its Creator Was Married To Barbie’s Creator
Elliott and Ruth Handler were the First Couple of the toy world. The two had founded Mattel as a picture frame company in 1945. While making a dollhouse, Ruth decided to craft a series of dolls she named Barbie.
It was an instant hit to make Mattel a success. Elliott then realized how a toy car line could be great for boys to craft what would become Hot Wheels. The two remained together until Ruth’s death in 2002 (Elliott passed on nine years later) to be icons of their industry.
Sources: Mentalfloss.com, hotwheels.com, hotwheelsmedia.com, thrillist.com
Both cars retail for about $81,000, but one is a lot more accessible.
SPEED PHENOM ON YOUTUBE
If you’ve got $80,000 to spend and want an American high-performance car, now’s a pretty good time to be in the market. In addition to tire-shredding stalwarts like the Camaro ZL1 and Challenger Hellcat, Ford and Chevy have recently launched high-profile, track-ready sports cars. And thanks to a new video by Speed Phenom, we now know how they directly compare on track.
Naturally, we wanted to do this comparison ourselves. But the GT500 wasn’t ready during our Performance Car of the Year competition when we had an early C8 to test. And now that both cars are on sale, stay-at-home orders and track closures mean we’ll have to wait for an opportunity to do a full R&T comparison.
In the meantime, Speed Phenom does a good job of breaking down how they perform. With the caveat that he’s got a base model GT500 without the optional Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, he notes that the car struggles for grip more often than the similarly-tired Corvette. It’s also less composed through mid-corner bumps, with slower cornering all around. Thanks to its massive horsepower advantage, though, it jets through straightaways.
The C8, meanwhile, benefits from serious mechanical grip. The better-balanced midship car fires through corners and has no problem putting its power down. That makes it more approachable, not surprising given that it’s the tamest version of the C8 while the GT500 is stretching the limits of the S550 platform. We’re sure to see more track-ready Corvettes soon, but for now the Stingray is a surprisingly capable start.
Mack Hogan- Road&Track
The Goldilocks zone of Corvette C8 interiors?
By now, you should know that Chevrolet has started deliveries of the mid-engine 2020 Corvette. Lucky owners of the ‘Vette C8 are starting to receive their newest toy and most likely you’ve already seen one on the streets – that’s if the state you’re in is not affected by the coronavirus lockdown.
If you’re among those who are planning to purchase the new Corvette but are undecided with the trim level to choose, this video might be able to help you – especially if you’re particular with a car’s interior.
The Corvette C8 comes with three trim levels: 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT. The differences lie mainly in the features offered on each trim level, which defines that the cabin will look and feel like. That’s pretty important, considering that we spend so much time inside the car rather than staring at our investment from a distance. So, here’s a little guide.
The base 1LT trim isn’t really basic. With the entry-level trim, you already get the GT1 seats wrapped in mulan leather, a customizable 12-inch gauge cluster, push-button ignition and keyless entry, and an 8-inch Chevy MyLink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and 10-speaker Bose sound system. The Corvette 1LT trim is available in three color options: black, gray, or red.
Going up the 2LT trim gives you more interior color options plus features like a rearview camera mirror, a colored head-up display, heated/cooled seats, heated steering wheel, advanced blind-spot monitor, and rear cross-traffic warning. The infotainment gets upgraded as well with a wireless charger and a 14-speaker Boss audio system.
Finally, the 3LT trim dials up the ante by adding a premium Nappa leather with suede microfiber accents – all in combination with the GT2 seats that have more bolsters. These seem not a lot but the range-topping trim adds luxury to the sports coupe.
If you’re still undecided, watch the 2LT interior review on top of this page to check whether you need to take it down a notch to 1LT or go all out on the top-level 3LT.
Source: HorsePower Obsessed
The etiquette of doing something you do regularly while staying safe and clean.
- We might need new gas-pumping etiquette rules for the 21st century, both for selfish and altruistic reasons.
- We’ve known since 2011 that gas pump handles can be filthy—they’re worse than ATMs or escalators, even—but there’s no reason to worry if you take the right precautions.
- You can lower your risk by using gloves or paper towels to gas up, using touch-free pay options, and staying as physically separate from others as possible as you refuel.
You may have heard this one before: the best way to avoid catching some sort of communicable disease is to wash your hands well, and often. This advice isn’t exactly new, which hints at how reasonable and responsible it is.
Washing your hands to stay clean was the takeaway lesson from a 2011 study conducted by Kimberly-Clark Professional, which found gas pump handles were “the filthiest surface that Americans encounter on the way to work,” according to Reuters. The Los Angeles Times reported back then that the study found 71 percent of gas pump handles the Kimberly-Clark researched tested were considered “‘highly contaminated’ with the kinds of germs most associated with a high risk of illness.” Compare that to only 41 percent of ATM buttons and 43 percent of escalator rails.
The Kimberly-Clark Professional tests were done in big cities (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and Philadelphia) almost a decade ago, but when something like the coronavirus impacts pretty much every corner of the world, it’s a good reminder to take care when gassing up. When it comes to the COVID-19 coronavirus specifically, the National Institutes of Health has issued information that explains that coronavirus can be stable for 24 hours on some surfaces like cardboard and “up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.”
If you’re not already carrying disinfecting wipes in the car with you, this is a good time to start, assuming you have some available, and wipe off the pump handle and touchscreen, or any other surfaces you plan to touch, before your hands make contact. Even better, it might be a good idea to search out a station that accepts contactless payment at the pump, so you won’t need to come into physical contact with the touchscreen or anything else other than the pump handle. Two easy solutions to this issue are to either wear gloves or to use the paper towels commonly provided for window cleaning as a guard between your hands and the screen, buttons, and pump handle. Keeping gloves in the car is a good idea, but they shouldn’t be the disposable sterile gloves that hospitals can use when there’s a need for them there. If you don’t have gloves, keep some hand sanitizer in the car to use on your hands after filling up.
As for social distancing, it’s convenient that gas pumps are relatively far apart from one another, contagion-wise, but even so, choosing to fill up your tank at an off-peak time can be safer. If there are other people getting gas at the same time, keeping at least six feet between you and them is a good idea for everyone involved. And it should go without saying that you shouldn’t go into the store unless there’s a reasonable need to do so if there’s still a rapidly spreading disease going around.
The actual chance that you will catch a transmittable viruses at the gas station is low. As the Illinois TV station ABC-20 reported based on answers from a medical expert, the sequence of events that have to happen to get the virus from someone who has it (someone coughing onto the pump handle or touching the touchscreen with virus on their hands, and then you touching it and then your face) can be interrupted in any number of ways. Even so, there’s no harm in being extra careful in these potentially dangerous times.
Sebastian Blanco- Car and Driver
It took 30 hours for Hennessey Performance Engineering to tear apart a new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, install twin-turbo setup, and put it back together.
It’s no surprise, then, that the twin-turbo C8 Corvette isn’t ready to be sold to customers. The engine lacks intercoolers and Hennessey hasn’t cracked the code of GM’s new electrical architecture to reprogram the ECU.
“This is just the beginning, our own car, doing R&D,” company founder and CEO John Hennessey told Motor Authority.
On Monday, the engine made 643 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque at the wheels on a Dynojet dyno while running just 5 psi of boost. That compares to baseline testing HPE performed on the stock car which revealed 466 hp and 451 lb-ft of torque. HPE plans to offer a 1,200-hp version of the C8, which Hennessey said could make 18-20 psi of boost.
Hennessey took delivery of an orange C8 Corvette in Detroit on March 13. He and his daughter, Emma, drove back to the performance outfitter’s Texas headquarters and performed baseline testing before the Hennessey team tore apart the car.
The orange C8 fired back to life on Friday with twin 62-mm Precision Turbos and twin blow-off valves connected to the throttle body mounted behind the catalytic converters. Both turbos are oil-cooled with twin scavenge pumps that feed back into the motor.
The system is not intercooled. Instead, there’s a methanol injection setup to keep things from getting too hot. HPE is considering where to put intercoolers. The current packaging has limited space for intercoolers without cutting into trunk space, which Hennessey does not want to do. 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray undergoes twin-turbo conversion at Hennessey
Hennessey told Motor Authority his team currently can’t tune the factory ECU, but it is looking at aftermarket solutions for the engine management system. He noted it took a year for solutions to come to market for the C7 and added, “hopefully, it won’t take a year.”
Hennessey said when the turbocharged C8 was first started it didn’t throw any codes, errors, or a check engine light. “The computer seems happy with the turbos,” Hennessey noted. A check engine light did appear when the front wheel speed sensors were disconnected to put the car on the dyno, Hennessey said.
The orange C8 will used for R&D of upcoming modifications. Hennessey said he doesn’t expect to deliver modified customer C8s for at least six months, and all will have intercoolers and full plumbing.
Joel Feder for Motor Authority
Did you see the two race on YouTube? We’ve tested them, too; here’s why the results were no surprise.
- We have tested both the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette (11.2 seconds at 122 mph) and the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 (11.4 seconds at 132 mph) in the quarter-mile.
- A video on YouTube, however, shows flipped results: 11.5 seconds at 120 mph for the Corvette and 10.8 seconds at 132 mph for the GT500.
- As always, the driver and track conditions are critical, and our two-run average is far more repeatable than any one-off run at a drag strip.
When we tested Ford’s new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 against the top-dog 2020 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, the Mustang came out on top on the drag strip. But how does the front-engine Shelby stack up against the other, now mid-engine, threat from Chevy?
Greg PajoCar and Driver
During our testing, the GT500 hurtled through the quarter-mile in 11.4 seconds at 132 mph. But that was on a regular street-like surface, not a sticky, prepped drag strip. We struggled mightily with traction at launch, and our best run was with the launch control set to the lowest rpm allowed (1200 rpm) to prevent igniting a rear-tire fire. However, no surprise: with more traction far, better numbers are possible, and we’ve seen numbers below 11 seconds at drag strips, including this kid, who ran a 10.665 shortly after he acquired the car.’Murica Which Ultimate Pony Car Is the 1/4-Mile King?This Kid Ran a 10.66 Quarter Mile In His GT500
On the other hand, the 2020 Corvette has far fewer launch struggles, as it benefits from its newly acquired mid-engine layout and rear weight bias. Moving the weight distribution rearward improves launch traction, helping it jump off the line much quicker. During our testing, and despite far less horsepower, the mid-engine Vette outaccelerated the GT500 through the quarter-mile by two tenths of a second, reaching it in 11.2 seconds at 122 mph.Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
We’re starting to see other people’s numbers from both of these cars, though, as customers are starting to take deliveries of their C8 Corvettes and GT500s. Contrary to our test results, there’s a video circulating on YouTube that shows the new GT500 beating the C8 Corvette through the quarter-mile by seven-tenths of a second. It raced to the quarter-mile in 10.8 seconds while the Corvette reached it in 11.5 seconds.
Keep in mind that the driver and conditions are huge factors in quarter-mile and acceleration results. We suspect that here, the Corvette likely got bogged down on the high-grip surface, as the launch control isn’t optimized for those conditions, and the 760-hp Mustang benefited from the extra traction on the track.
Connor Hoffman for CarandDriver
William Walker: Photographer Manufacturer Photographer Mar 11, 2020
It’s weird to say, but immediately after my first test drive in the new mid-engine, eighth-generation 2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette, I was angry. Angry not because the car didn’t do what it should, but precisely because it did everything I asked of it, and did it beautifully—and I’d been led to believe it was a hot, understeering mess by the reviews I’d read elsewhere. How could they all have been so wildly off base?
There are many possible explanations, of course—differing driver skill levels, evaluation methods, and conditions. But two variables stand out among the rest: the C8 Corvette’s option for track or street alignments, and the length of exposure to the car. Addressing the latter issue first, we were lucky enough to spend the better part of week with the new C8, a rare chance given the limited availability of test cars so early in the Corvette’s production (All-Stars testing took place in early December 2019). That greater exposure to the car allowed us more time to get a feel for its behavior in a wide array of situations, both on the road and on the Streets of Willow Springs racetrack.
Perhaps even more importantly, however, was the choice of track and street suspension alignments. You see, the 2020 C8 Corvette has two official specifications for its alignment settings; the street alignment sets the camber at 0 degrees, while the track alignment sets the camber to 3 degrees negative. The result is the difference between a (somewhat) understeer-biased street setup and a balanced, ready-to-rotate super sports car. The former is intended to help Corvette owners new to the world of low polar-moment mid-engine cars make the transition without ending up backward in a guardrail their first time out. We spent our week with the Corvette in track-alignment mode, whether hammering out laps or zooming around the mountains near Lake Hughes.
But wait, isn’t that cheating, you ask? It might seem like it at first—track settings are meant for the track, not the street, right?–but Chevrolet itself recommends owners who use the track setting for track go ahead and leave the car setup that way all the time. No, it won’t cause excessive or premature tire wear, at least according to Chevy’s engineers. For the record, we did visually notice more wear to the front tires’ inside shoulders than we’d expect with the more conventional setup, so we’d be curious to see the state of the rubber after 5,000 or so miles with this alignment. It’s certainly something for owners to be aware of and to keep an eye on, at the very least.
Regardless, and not for nothing, the two alignment settings might better be named “beginner” and “advanced”. If you’re a moderately accomplished driver who’s comfortable with a car that’s willing to rotate, don’t leave the lot with your new Corvette until you’ve had the car set to its more aggressive alignment.
With that out of the way, holy cow, is this thing good! The nearly instant-on torque from the 6.2-liter V-8 means you’re never left wanting for thrust, the quick-shifting eight-speed dual-clutch transmission bangs out upshifts with authority, and the steering feel, while not telepathic, is still abundantly communicative. Detroit bureau chief Todd Lassa did note, however, that several of our evaluators found “the steering in its own separate Track mode is too heavy without doing anything for feel,” and resident professional race driver Andy Pilgrim pointed out, “The gearbox is very good on the street, but did not always give me the lower gear I wanted on the track.” If those are the worst things we could think to say after back-to-back runs in hardware as exotic as the $474,000-plus Ferrari F8 Tributo and the nearly as pricey McLaren GT, it’s pretty apparent the mid-engine Corvette is something special.
Braking is remarkably stable for a mid-engine car, as is power application, the latter thanks at least in part to the car’s Performance Traction Management system. Chevy’s PTM is one of the key technology transfers from the factory Corvette Racing program, and it shows its racing roots when put to the test. But of course even the best traction-control programs can’t work when the tires aren’t in contact with the road; that’s where the Corvette’s excellent suspension tune comes in.
“Glides over broken mountain roads like a hovercraft—but still sticks like crazy,” wrote contributor Arthur St. Antoine in his evaluation notes. Pilgrim agreed, noting the C8 Corvette “has more suspension travel than the Porsche 992, and feels more compliant, allowing more roll in transition; none of which is a bad thing for everyday driving comfort.”
In fact, far from a rabid, on-the-edge supercar, it’s clear the Chevy engineers behind the new C8 Corvette put a great deal of time and effort into the car’s daily driving demeanor, or, as features editor Rory Jurnecka noted, “It should make a nice road car with good interior space. Feels pretty easy to live with.” Not only is there a rear trunk that’ll fit two golf bags (or several carry-on bags or backpacks), there’s a front trunk (or frunk) that’ll hold some more. But the new C8 Corvette’s interior is what truly stands out in terms of daily comfort, especially in comparison to previous Corvettes.
“When I took the C8 on the road trip between the hotel and the winners’ shoot location, I was blown away at how good of a GT car it is,” social media editor Billy Rehbock said. “I put on the cooled seats, played music over the crystal-clear sound system, and rolled in complete comfort. My only complaint was that it was actually a bit quiet, even when being driven hard, but subsequent performance versions will fix that, no doubt.”
Beyond even the excellent interior feature set (though the verdict is still out on the extra-long button strip in the center console), the most notable and immediately noticeable upgrade to the C8 Corvette’s interior is the massive improvement of materials and build quality over previous generations. Our test car’s 3LT interior trim specification included Chevy’s upgraded infotainment system, a 14-speaker Bose audio system, and a head-up display. And in addition to the upgraded materials, it featured extended leather surface treatments, and GT2 bucket seats—though ours swapped the GT2 seats for “competition sport bucket” seats for an extra $500); the 3LT spec added $11,950 to the car’s $59,995 base price. Tack that cash onto the additional list of optional extras like the Z51 performance package ($5,000), magnetic ride control suspension system ($1,895), front lift system ($1,495), upgraded 19-inch front/20-inch rear wheels and tires ($1,495), and engine appearance package ($995), among others. Total price, as configured: a surprisingly reasonable $83,825.
Admittedly, this was a pre-production car, but it was also one of just a handful of streetable C8 Corvettes available at the time, meaning it had already lived a rather hard life before our testing even began. Sitting in the C8 back-to-back with the Ferrari F8, the Italian doesn’t come off as insanely luxurious or refined—and the F8’s interior is already perfectly lovely.
It’s no revelation that the 2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette is a great performance value; the Corvette has been that way for decades. But for Chevy to have done such an impressive job on its first go with the engine behind the driver, and to have included so many improvements to the luxury and quality of the C8, all for a price that’s a fraction of the cars with which it competes, it’s easy to see why I was so angry after experiencing the car for myself—and it’s hard not to agree with Jurnecka when he says, “So glad this car is what I’d hoped for. Worth the wait.”
Nelson Ireson for Automobile
Mike Stapley, KSL.com Contributor
By Mike Stapley, KSL.com Contributor | Posted – Mar. 4, 2020 at 2:32 p.m.
AMERICAN FORK — The Chevrolet Corvette had humble beginnings.
In 1953, only 300 were produced with fewer than 200 sold. With only 150 horsepower, the car failed to move fans of more lively British roadsters and refined American sedans.
A couple of years later, the original V-6 engine gave way to a more powerful V-8, and the Corvette began to find its way. The 1956 model brought styling changes and additional horsepower that laid the groundwork for what would become America’s sports car.
The second-generation car, dubbed C2, debuted in 1963 and offered a coupe option for the first time. That same year, the Sting Ray moniker made its mark, and Chevy began offering its first production racing model Z06 with 360 horsepower.
In 1965, Chevy made its big-block 425 horsepower V-8 available in the Corvette. The C3 (called the Sharknado for its unique design) was released just a few years later. According to true aficionados, the modern Corvette originates with the C3, since Chevy eliminated any true rear storage area and debuted a Targa-style removable roof panel.
In 2020, the Corvette will experience its most stunning transformation to date and become a mid-engine supercar, sharing a powertrain layout with European competitors for the first time ever.
Despite its rich history and reputation for power, the Corvette has been subjected to a messy, mixed reputation among car enthusiasts. America’s sports car is often viewed as a value offering for middle-aged drivers, and stories abound of Corvette engineers feeling limited in their offerings.
With the new car entering production, there is no better time to pay homage to the outgoing C7, which changed the Corvette’s reputation for the better. The 2019 Grand Sport model combines the power and value of the Sting Ray with Z06 styling.
“The Grand Sport has long been the best value in the sports car world. You simply can’t match what’s available, dollar for dollar, anywhere in the world,” said Zach Madsen, fleet sales manager for Ken Garff Chevrolet in American Fork.
The Grand Sport model offers the body kit and downforce stylings of the top-end Z06, and the car is stunning from almost every angle. The fastback-style roofline meets massive rear fenders that blend and create a rear end that makes the Corvette seem much larger than it is. When parked next to other cars, the ‘Vette’s true size becomes quickly apparent.
There is no mistaking this car for another from behind. The traditional quad lens taillights flank the huge Corvette emblem on the rear, and all four exhaust outlets are located at the center of the rear bumper rather than split among each side.
The Z06 rear deck spoiler is tall enough to require an opening in the center so the driver can see behind. The rear fenders are squared off more than prior generations, but the front fenders still provide a sweeping arc that screams Corvette. Large front fender air vents provide color contrast and sport the Grand Sport logo.
From the front, the hoodline rakes down sharply, stretching elongated headlight housings on either side. A black hood vent down the center and a three-tiered front splitter provide color contrast and make it seem like the car is floating just barely above the ground.
The ‘Vette’s best attribute, and my most pleasant surprise, is the handling. The beefier body and chassis of the Z06 is present on the Grand Sport, and buyers can choose the even beefier Z07 suspension package.
The word “compromise” has always been part of Corvette lore, and I didn’t anticipate a car that felt confident on nearly every road I threw at it. The C7 is a capable track car and most track-capable cars don’t make the transition well to the mean, uneven, pothole-filled streets of America.
I’ve been disappointed by some of the best cars in the world, where even the seams of an elevated canyon road can throw them every which way. The C7 Grand Sport, in my humble opinion, is only bested in this area by the Porsche 911. It’s a bold statement, but I stand by it.
The lore of “compromise” is true inside the Corvette, though. It isn’t fair, of course, to compare the interior of a sub $80,000 car to those of cars costing three and four times as much. It’s difficult not to, though, when Corvette competes for buyers with those cars from Italy and Germany.
There’s no doubt the interior is much improved over the prior C6 generation: nothing about the fit, finish and quality of the materials stands out as subpar. At the same time, nothing stood out as exceptional or distinctive from any Cadillac or Denali on the road. In a car like this, something should.
The two-tone dash layout is nice, and the cockpit-like feel of the driver’s seat is unrivaled. The entire center console pushes out toward the driver and ends on the lower passenger side with a grab handle for wary riders. The passengers will also find their separate climate and heated/cooled seat controls built into the passenger vent itself — a nice and convenient touch.
But Corvette tech is a mixed bag.
The heads-up display is excellent and adjustable to provide a wide range of information, and the center touch screen reveals a James Bond-like secret storage bin when lowered mechanically.
GM has an excellent MyLink infotainment system, but the Corvette seems to have been given a lesser model — though, the Bose sound system is superb. Perhaps the intent was to “enhance” the display so it would stand out from Chevy’s other offerings, but the result is a mess of poor layout and overlapping controls.
Fortunately, both Apple Carplay and Android Auto are available to rescue it.
I might lose some Corvette fans by saying this, but hear me out. The powertrain is excellent but left me wanting more.
While the Grand Sport borrows from the upper-end Z06 in terms of appearance and handling, it also borrows the engine and transmission from the base model Sting Ray. The 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 provides 460 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque and moves the ‘Vette from zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds with the smooth eight-speed automatic.
It’s quick, it’s gloriously loud at startup, and yet, it left me feeling like the experience was less than spectacular. Perhaps the C7 is a bit too refined for its own good. Perhaps Corvette engineers have favored the stereotypical mid-life buyer a little too much.
The glorious sound loses some luster at highway speeds. The G-forces are clearly there when moving that quickly, but they aren’t felt the way one would expect. The engine lacks initial “oompf” but makes up for it while the transmission spins through the gears in a way that seems impossible. The paddle shifters added some fun, and I’m curious whether the seven-speed manual transmission would “un-tame” the beast in the way I would want.
Don’t get me wrong, I prefer the Corvette to the wonky, jolting shift pattern of an Aston, and the handling more than makes up for any ethereal shortcomings. Best of all, it’s the first sports car I’ve brought home that my wife actually enjoyed riding in. She paid it high praise one evening with the light Targa top removed and actually said she could get used to this one.
In the end, the Corvette left me very impressed and quelled the mythical shortcomings that preceded it.
I doubt many potential Corvette buyers care, but the EPA fuel economy comes in at 19 combined mpg, aided by a less than 3,300-pound weight. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for this car, as tested, was $77,840.
Source: Mike Stapley; KSL
And also what you don’t get
Although we test hundreds of cars every year, we rarely get to take a look at base trims—especially when it comes to supercars. But during the media launch of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 last week, we were able to see the much hyped $59,995 model, and we got a chance to sit in it and see how the materials compare with the car we evaluated last year and ultimately named our 2020 Car of the Year. We didn’t drive the $60K model, but we got to drive a non-Z51 Corvette C8 for the first time, which was very similar to the base car. We were impressed to see the long list of standard equipment on the base model and appreciated how there are almost no compromises with its performance. Here’s an overview of what you get when you buy the cheapest C8 Corvette model in the lineup.
You buy a Corvette because you care about driving, and the C8 delivers on that front. That’s one of the reasons we named it Car of the Year. And even on the $60,000 car, you still get a lot for your money. The 6.2-liter V-8 engine produces 490 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque, which is 5 hp and 5 lb-ft less than what you get with the optional performance exhaust. Just like on the higher trims, an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission sends power to the rear wheels. Four-piston Brembo brakes are also standard, so you’ll get that hard stopping power when you need to. And you still get the mechanical limited-slip differential.
Non-Z51 C8 Corvettes ride on all-season tires, so this was our first time driving the car with the Michelin Pilot Sport all-seasons and the standard suspension. The ride is a little stiffer with this setup, but it still continues to be comfortable on the road. You’ll have to drive the Z51 and regular models back to back to notice the difference. The standard suspension is also very competent, though I still prefer the optional magnetic Ride Control adaptive damping system, which adjusts every millisecond to the road surfaces and rides more comfortably than the base suspension when set to Tour mode (driving modes are still offered even without the MR shocks on the base C8).
There’s no doubt about it—the C8’s interior design is just as good as (or perhaps even better than) its exterior design. You’ll note that the biggest difference between the 1LT (base) and 3LT (top trim) is on the dashboard, where the absence of leather is notable. But even then, you’re still getting a lot of standard equipment. The dash still has a premium feel, and you still get the contrast stitching throughout the cabin. You also get a lot of leather in the standard interior. The seats and steering wheel are wrapped in leather and you don’t really see any hard plastics (except where the wireless charger is located, which you can’t get on the base trim). You don’t get the suede headliner, but the standard fabric headliner is pretty decent.
The 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard on the Corvette C8, so you don’t lose any major technology. What you don’t get is the Performance Data Recorder (PDR), which is able to record the view of the front camera along with the speed and g force readings when you’re on a track. The reason you don’t get the PDR is because the base C8 doesn’t come with the front camera. You’ll miss that feature when parking as the display automatically shows the camera view when you’re approaching a curb block or other potentially front end-scraping object. Another pro is the 10-speaker Bose audio system, which sounds crisp and will have you rockin’ and rollin’ wherever you go.
Although it’s weird not to see them on a $60,000 car, blind-spot monitor and rear-cross traffic alert are not included on the base C8. Those are part of the 2LT package, which increases the price by more than $7,000.
Although you might not get some safety features, there’s a long list of convenience features that come at no extra charge. Keyless access with push-button start, dual-zone climate control, power adjustable GT1 bucket seats, automatic LED headlights, and a 12.0-inch digital cluster display are standard on the base C8. The removable roof panel is also standard, so every C8 can be driven topless.
Miguel Cortina for Motor Trend
Oh ZR1, how quickly we have forgotten you and moved on to the C8. But then comes along a video like this that reminds us that even with an engine upfront, you are still one of our favorites!
All kidding aside, the 2019 Corvette ZR1 is one of our favorite Corvettes of all time particularly because of the things it could do, like shooting down a former Space Shuttle runway at Cape Canaveral at nearly 200 MPH!
Typically we see these high speed runs with a ZR1 that has the ZTK’s High Wing. This Long Beach Red Corvette ZR1 has the low wing for less drag and it seems to definitely show off its speed in this standing mile run in which the Corvette reached a top speed of 191.16 MPH.
Two views are shown including the in-car with telemetry overlay on the screen. We see the car was still accelerating past the mile and we’re excited as they tell us that two more videos coming that show the ZR1 also running 2.3 miles and 2.7 miles down the runway.
The video comes the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds on Merritt Island Florida. Previously we have seen the Genovation GXE Electric Corvette run on the same track and in fact, it might be interesting to compare the two cars after the ZR1 shares the two final runs
From Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds via YouTube:
As we continue to digest all the new information that came out of last week’s First Drive Event with the 2020 Corvette Stingrays in Las Vegas, there is a new “Mode” to discuss that most Corvette enthusiasts have never heard of.
The 2020 Corvette Stingray has several “modes” that help drivers get the most out of their cars. We are already familiar with the regular driving modes that feature settings for Weather, Touring, Sport and Track, as well as the two customizable modes called MyMode and Z-Mode. But what you may not be aware of is that the 2020 Corvette Stingray’s equipped with Magnetic Ride Control also features a “Flying Car” mode.
Well, it is the 21st century after all!
Corvette’s Vehicle Performance Manager Alex MacDonald is responsible for the chassis tuning of the new Corvette and he was tasked with explaining much of the on-track performance capabilities of the new Corvette to those at Spring Mountain last week.
For the C8 Corvette, engineers have rolled out version 4.0 of Magnetic Ride Control with the biggest change to the system is the use of accelerometers rather than position sensors that measured wheel height. Here is the slide that was offered on the new Mag Ride for the C8 Corvette:
The Magnetic Ride Control is tied into the Corvette’s Performance Traction Management system and that’s where the Flying Car Mode comes into play.
When your crest an incline and the Corvette’s wheels are off the ground, they will spin faster like they are on ice or another slippery surface because there is no resistance. The performance traction control senses that and sends commands to slow the wheels. But that’s not the best reaction when on the track. The system now senses when the car’s front wheels leave the ground (and assumes that the rears will be leaving as well), and the system tells the performance traction control to ignore it because it knows that it’s temporary and that all four wheels will be back on the ground momentarily.
Here is Alex talking about the Flying Car Mode:
“The other interesting note about MR is that it communicates with the performance traction system and it tells that performance traction system that if the front wheels have just gone over a big crest that we know that one wheel-base later the rear is about to go over that same crest, we can adapt the traction control to work in that situation and we call that Flying Car Mode, which is a cool name for it, because it does detect when the car is airborne and we can alter the chassis controls to deal what happens when the car lands.”
Video by Keith Cornett
ALTENBERG, Germany (Feb. 23, 2020)– Hunter Church (Cadyville, N.Y.) and Josh Williamson (Lake Mary, Fla.) gained a spot to finish 19th in the two-man bobsled World Championship finale in Altenberg today. It rained throughout the night, creating wet and frosty conditions for today’s final two heats.
“It was a much different day, the ice was much slower from the rain,” Church said. “Overall I’m happy to be able to clean up some things from yesterday, and I’m feeling better heading into four-man. It’s good that I’m experiencing these challenges now, and hopefully I can continue to get better.”
Church and Williamson posted start times of 5.38 and 5.35 seconds today for runs of 57.17 and 56.57 seconds, respectively. His third run was 16th best of the heat, and his final run was 10th fastest. Church and Williamson edged closer to the field and finished 19th with a four-run combined time of 3:44.49.
“Today was a good note to end on in two-man,” said USA Bobsled Head Coach Mike Kohn. “Hunter has the same championship mentality as Kaillie Humphries. He’s 23 years old and this is only his second world championship. He’s doing great.”
Germany’s Francesco Friedrich won his sixth consecutive two-man World Championship today with Thorsten Margis. The duo was dominant, and won by 1.65 seconds with a total time of 3:40.44. Johannes Lochner and Christopher Weber from Germany moved into silver medal position with an aggregate time of 3:42.09. Oskars Kibermanis and Matiss Miknis from Latvia denied the Germans a sweep of the medals. The Latvians moved up from fifth to claim the bronze medal with a cumulative time of 3:42.23. Germans Nico Walther and Eric Franke dropped back into fourth.
The 2020 World Championships will continue next week with the women’s and men’s skeleton races, a mixed skeleton team event, and the four-man bobsled competition. Raced pick up again on Thursday, Feb. 27, and will conclude on Sunday, March 1.
NBC Sports and the Olympic Channel will have broadcast and digital streaming coverage. Fans can catch all the action in spectacular high definition via NBC Sports online at NBCSports.com/Live, or through the NBC Sports app. Additional coverage will be available on OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app.
Please contact USABS Marketing & Communications Director Amanda Bird at 518-354-2250, or firstname.lastname@example.org, with media inquiries.
1. Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis (GER) 3:40.44 (54.00, 54.09, 55.98, 56.37);
2. Johannes Lochner and Christopher Weber (GER) 3:42.09 (54.59, 54.59, 56.36, 56.55);
3. Oskars Kibermanis and Matiss Miknis (LAT) 3:42.23 (54.49, 54.72, 56.35, 56.67);
19. Hunter Church and Josh Williamson (USA) 3:44.49 (55.25, 55.50, 57.17, 56.57);
About USA Bobsled & Skeleton
USA Bobsled & Skeleton (USABS), based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. USABS would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Under Armour, Omaze, Kampgrounds of America, Snap Fitness, Boomerang Carnets, Machintek, deBotech and Carpenter. For more information, please visit the USABS website at www.usabs.com.
With the highest performance versions of the seventh generation Corvette, customers were forced to make a choice. Did they want their car to have the highest possible top speed, or did they want to sacrifice some of that by bolting a slew of aerodynamic aids to their car for maximum cornering ability?
We would love for Chevrolet to take that decision out of the ordering equation for buyers of the upcoming Z models and the Grand Sport. They could give buyers the best of both worlds with the incorporation of Active Aerodynamics.
Active Aerodynamics can take many forms, from grille vents that close at high speeds to streamline a car, to suspension that lowers at speed to reduce lift. We know that the Corvette team would build a fully functional system that integrates several of these technologies into a cohesive package, just like they did on the C7 ZR1’s chassis-mounted wing and innovative balancing front underwing, but what we mostly want to focus on here is the most visible piece of such a system, the rear wing.
This unit would elevate both the performance and even the prestige of GM’s looming halo car. There are several benefits of an active rear wing that accompany their off-the-charts cool factor.
1. An active rear wing can be lowered, causing it, for all intents and purposes, to disappear, along with any drag that it was creating. Top-end General Motors Products have become so fast that the most track-worthy editions have suffered at the dragstrip because of massive fixed wings. The effects of the C7 Z06/Z07’s wickerbill spoiler have been well documented. Chevrolet officially listed the top speed of ZR1’s with the “big-wing” ZTK package as 10 MPH lower than their stock counterparts, and the Camaro ZL1 with the 1LE package has proven slower than the car it is based on, even in distances as short as a quarter-mile. Allowing these serious track performers to retract their wing, and the ZTK/Z07/1LE models become the best version of their respective model-line with no excuses or asterisks, which is what buyers that dole out more funds expect.
Photo Credit: https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz
2. Just as these wings can retract to reduce drag and improve top speed, they can be “actively” placed in full “attack mode” for maximum downforce in the corners. This increases cornering speed, stability, and driver confidence which can lead to drastically lower lap times.
3. Upon hard braking, an active wing can also go vertical, transforming into an air brake. This assists the actual brakes, resulting in shorter stopping distances. It also keeps more weight in the rear of the car, again helping with stability and, especially in a rear-wheel drive car, improved corner exit speeds.
Photo Credit: Car Magazine (UK)
All three of these traits brought to the table by an active wing radically assist the driver and make the car faster in all aspects. The coolest thing is that, with the right programming, the wing does all three automatically with seamless transitions, and, did we mention how awesome they also look?
There has been speculation about Active Aero coming to the Corvette for several years now. These rumors were fueled by GM’s own patent filings which showed a sketch of a C7 fitted with advanced aerodynamic trickery. We think the top dog mid-engine offerings are the perfect place for the General to finally deploy this technology that can already be found on the majority of the world’s supercars.
For the last two days we’ve been in Corvette Heaven as we were invited by Chevrolet to come out to Las Vegas and test drive the 2020 Corvette Stingray. The test consisted of two parts that included a route through the Valley of Fire state park and then today we drove the new mid-engine sports cars at Spring Mountain Motor Resort & Country Club.
Today’s driving session culminated with the very talented instructors from the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School offering hot laps around the track. Each driver gave their passenger a demonstration of the capabilities of the new Corvette and those two fast laps started with engaging launch control as each car took to the track.
With 60% of the weight of the 2020 Corvette residing over the back wheels, the Launch Control demonstration shows just how quick these cars are able to put power to the pavement as those Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires quickly hook up to send the car on the track.
We will be traveling from Las Vegas to home in Tampa on Wednesday, but keep checking back as we got a lot of great photos and videos from our 2020 Corvette drive on deck!
Video by Keith Cornett
PARK CITY, Utah (Feb. 17, 2020)– Vanessa D’Arpino (Grants Pass, Ore.) claimed silver and bronze medals in Park City’s two-day women’s monobob event over the weekend to lead the U.S. team. Shelby Williamson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Lake Kwaza (Sycamore, Ill.) also posted strong performances for Team USA, each finishing in the top six both days.
This is D’Arpino’s debut season, and she’s only raced once before this week; she finished 12th in the Lake Placid monobob race in November.
“This season I came in with low expectations, and I didn’t know where I’d end up in the sport,” D’Arpino said. “Starting with rookie camp and push champs for bobsled, to sliding skeleton for a couple weeks, it was a process figuring out where I was going to do. However, I knew bobsled was for me and I was thankful when coach Mike Dionne got me in the driver’s seat. So far I have loved it.”
D’Arpino was close to qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Team as a track athlete, but she fell just short of her goal. The setback turned into an opportunity when USABS Director of Athlete Development Mike Dionne sent her a direct message on Twitter asking if she wanted to consider trying out for the bobsled team.
D’Arpino admits that she initially thought it was “weird,” but after speaking with Dionne on the phone about the opportunity, she decided to give it a try.
“My goal for this year was to learn as much as I could and stay as involved as much as possible,” D’Arpino said. “We discussed a few monobob races early into training, and being the competitive person I am, I joked about reaching the podium after only a couple weeks of driving. Coming into Park City with more confidence and training, I told coach Dionne I was getting that podium, and he was fully supportive. It’s awesome to actually reach that goal.”
The former University of Oregon sprinter was the fastest athlete off the start block in race one with push times of 5.63 and 5.64 seconds. D’Arpino crossed the finish line in 54.89 seconds, which was second best of the heat, and 55.58 seconds to secure the bronze medal in 1:50.47.
Karlien Sleper from the Netherlands was race one’s winner in 1:49.20, while Ashleigh Werner from Great Britain was second in 1:50.38.
Williamson was just off her teammates pace in fourth place with a combined time of 1:51.00 after posting runs of 55.42 and 55.58 seconds. Kwaza, who is easing back into bobsled after joining the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, finished sixth with a combined time of 1:51.38.
“It is so good to be back on ice,” Kwaza said. “I joined the Army right after last season in May. I spent all summer doing Army training and got back on November 1st and right into a sled.”
Kwaza is no stranger to success on the ice. She has four World Cup medals, all won as a push athlete for Elana Meyers Taylor. Since returning to the ice after her Army training, Kwaza has jumped from the back of the sled into the driver’s seat.
“So far I have been extremely frustrated because, like anything new, it takes time and I have a hard time waiting,” Kwaza said. “But the time I’ve spent being in the front seat has been extremely valuable and I’m excited to continue with this path.”
D’Arpino was back on the podium in race two, earning the silver medal with a combined time of 1:58.99 after clocking runs of 57.99 and 1:01.00. Sleper was again victorious, this time with a two-run total of 1:56.63. Marina Silva Tuono from Brazil claimed bronze in 1:59.39.
Kwaza moved up into fifth place in race two after posting runs of 58.67 and 1:01.11 for a total time of 1:59.78. Williamson was sixth in 2:00.29 to place all Team USA competitors in the top six in both races.
Kwaza said she’s been able to use her veteran teammates as extra coaches as she learns in her new role as a driver.
“The drivers that we have on the team are just amazing human beings and are all about Team USA being successful,” Kwaza said. “Not one of them have declined helping me out in any way. No matter what stage I’m at, I have always felt like I’ve had the entire team behind me. Coach Dionne has also been so patient and helpful.”
“I have the best teammates around, and we’re constantly supporting each other,” D’Arpino said. “Lake Kwaza and I have been paired up since day one in the process of learning how to drive and I am her biggest fan. It’s going to be fun to progress as drivers together.”
There are two monobob events remaining this season; in La Plagne, France from March 2-8, and Lake Placid, N.Y. from March 30-April 3.
Please contact USABS Marketing & Communications Director Amanda Bird at 518-354-2250, or email@example.com, with media inquiries.
1. Karlien Sleper (NED) 1:49.20 (54.73, 54.47);
2. Ashleigh Werner (GBR) 1:50.38 (55.30, 55.08);
3. Vanessa D’Arpino (USA) 1:50.47 (54.89, 55.58);
4. Shelby Williamson (USA) 1:51.00 (55.42, 55.58);
6. Lake Kwaza (USA) 1:51.38 (55.67, 55.71);
1. Karlien Sleper (NED) 1:56.63 (57.36, 59.27);
2. Vanessa D’Arpino (USA) 1:58.99 (57.99, 1:01.00);
3. Marina Silva Tuono (BRA) 1:59.39 (58.44, 1:00.95);
5. Lake Kwaza (USA) 1:59.78 (58.67, 1:01.11);
6. Shelby Williamson (USA) 2:00.29 (59.48, 1:00.81);
About USA Bobsled & Skeleton
USA Bobsled & Skeleton (USABS), based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. USABS would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Under Armour, Omaze, Kampgrounds of America, BiPro, Boomerang Carnets, Hudl, Tesa Tape, PVS International, Ferris Mfg. Corp, Machintek, deBotech and Carpenter. For more information, please visit the USABS website at www.usabs.com.
From an acclaimed concept car John DeLorean reportedly dismissed because he wanted something “smaller and more European,” to the design that ended a feud between a pair of GM giants — but may have set the Corvette back decades — a trove of unique documents, sketches and models tells a secret history of the 60-year quest to build a mid engine Chevrolet Corvette.
The story begins in the late 1950s with legendary Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov and came to fruition when the first mid engine 2020 Corvette Stingray sold for $3 million at auction in January.
Titled “The Vision Realized: 60 Years of Mid engine Corvette Design” and created by GM Design Archive & Collections, the exhibit included 19 original sketches by designers including Larry Shinoda and Tom Peters, the massive 4-Rotor rotary engine from the 1973 Aerovette engineering, a wood wind-tunnel model, even letters from Arkus-Duntov’s personal files.
“The story of the mid engine Corvette is incredibly complicated, full of fits and starts,” said Christo Datini, manager of the GM Design Archive & Collections.
Cristo Datini at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
A mid engine Corvette was a dream shared by GM designers and engineers. The layout, in which the engine is behind the passenger compartment and immediately over the rear wheels, improves acceleration and handling. It’s been a mainstay at Ferrari for decades, and inspired repeated design and engineering projects at GM. None of them made it to production till now, largely because the Corvette’s original front-engine layout was so successful.
“Why would we change the Corvette?” GM chairman and CEO Richard Gerstenberg said to Arkus-Duntov before both men retired in the mid-1970s. “We sell every one we can make.”
‘Design without limit’
A generation of GM designers and engineers had already fought that attitude toward the sports car that debuted in 1953 model, and a couple more would before the midengine eighth-generation C8 Corvette Stingray debuted last year.
The exhibition included dozens of sketches, models, photos and documents.
“Our mission is to preserve the heritage of GM Design and educate our designers on GM’s prominence in the world of design,” Datini said. The archive also is working with the Detroit Institute of Arts on a massive exhibition dedicated to automotive design that opens this summer.
The Corvette exhibition closed at the end of January, but elements of it are likely to be displayed at other events and locations, possibly including the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which provided materials for the collection.
Original magazines with drawings of what Corvettes could have looked like on display at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle I, Also called SERV I and XP-708, was the beginning. A running model that debuted in 1960, the car had the looks of an Indy car and a chassis that tested what a midengine layout could do. It was “a design without limit” and an “admirable tool” to help Chevy figure out “what to put in Corvette,” said Duntov, himself a former driver in the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race.
CERV I was used as a test vehicle for years. Larry Shinoda, who would go on to be known as the father of the ’63 Corvette Stingray and the Mako Shark concept car, tweaked its design repeatedly as engineers tested it with seven different power trains.
GM eventually retired CERV I, selling it to the Briggs Cunningham Automotive Museum for $1. When the museum failed in the 1980s, GM bought it back for “somewhat more,” Datini said.
A model of the 1968 Chevrolet mid-engine Corvette Roadster that is one of many items for General Motors workers to see at the Corvette design display at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
Corvettes the world never saw
Shortly thereafter, Duntov heard rumors Ford was developing a Le Mans racer to challenge Ferrari and launched work on CERV II. GM decided not to race, Ford and Carroll Shelby built the GT40 that inspired “Ford vs. Ferrari,” and the CERV II was used as an engineering test bed at secret proving grounds and never seen by the public during its active lifetime. Built in 1964, CERV II had a 500-horsepower V8, 210-mph top speed and 2.8-second 0-60 mph time.
A picture of the CERV II Corvette. The sports car never went into production but it was influential in the design of the C5 production Corvette. (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
“By that time, engineers and designers knew a midengine chassis was necessary” to get maximum performance from the ‘Vette, Datini said. Putting the engine behind the passenger compartment puts the car’s weight over the rear wheels to put down more power without spinning. Shifting balance from the production ‘Vette’s nose-heavy weight distribution would also improve handling.
Also in 1964, the XP-819 experimental car was being tested. Designed by Shinoda, it bore a strong resemblance to 1970 Corvettes, but Duntov hated it, calling it an “ugly duckling” at least in part because he wished his engineering team got some of the budget allotted to designing the car. It had a 327 cubic-inch V8 and pop-up headlights.
Like many concept and engineering vehicles, XP-819 was destroyed, chopped up. Years later, the pieces were found in NASCAR designer and mechanic Smokey Yunick’s garage.
Half Corvette, half Porsche
With a name GM would later recycle on a minivan, the Astro II XP-880 was never publicly identified as a Corvette, but it was one, intended for production in 1970, but never got there. It debuted at the New York auto show, featuring a nose, front fenders and Firefrost Blue paint that that foreshadowed 1970s production cars.
DeLorean, then Chevrolet general manager, asked for a rush program to create a different midengine design to match the midengine Pantera Ford was developing with Italian sports car maker De Tomaso to debut at the 1970 New York auto show. The XP-882 had a tapering body with dramatic fender flares and a louvered rear window like the Mako Shark II concept car. Like so many midengine ‘Vettes before and after, GM brass decided to stick with the tried and true front-engine layout.
Also in the 1970s GM president Ed Cole — another legendary engineer who led the development of the small block V8 and catalytic converter, among other achievements — became enamored with the Wankel rotary engine. Duntov built two midengine experimental ‘Vettes with rotary engines, glad for Cole’s support despite not sharing his enthusiasm for the engine.
Sketching and notes about the Corvette, one of the many originals on display for workers to see at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
The 1973 Corvette 2-Rotor XP-987GT was a smaller, European-scale sports car with a rotary engine. The body was all Corvette, but its chassis came from a Porsche 914. Italian design house Pininfarina built its body. GM displayed the 2-Rotor at auto shows in Frankfurt and Paris before the car disappeared, probably sold to a collector.
Bill Mitchell’s most beautiful car
At the same time, Duntov wanted to develop a bigger midengine Corvette. He and Cole hadn’t been on speaking terms since Duntov refused an annual bonus he thought was insultingly small. They made up, at least in part because Duntov wanted a budget to develop what would become the Corvette 4-Rotor Aerovette, an iconic, gull wing design. Duntov believed it was the most beautiful vehicle GM design chief Bill Mitchell oversaw in a career that included the ’57 Chevy Bel Air and ’66 Buick Riviera.
Duntov recycled the XP-882’s chassis for the Aerovette, which featured silver leather interior trim.
A picture of the Aerovette featuring bi-fold gulping doors in the sports car that was never made. It is one of many photographs, drawings and sketches on display on all things Corvette design inside the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
Despite the car’s striking appearance, Duntov would come to believe his agreement to use a rotary engine was a nail in the midengine ‘Vette’s coffin.
Despite that, another midengine engineering car arrived in 1974. The XP-895 began its life with a steel body. Intrigued by the idea of lightweight materials, DeLorean asked Reynolds Aluminum to create an aluminum body. That cut the car’s weight by nearly 40%, but DeLorean pulled the plug on the project because he wanted a smaller, more European design.
That never happened, and design work on midengine ‘Vettes came to a halt for more than a decade, as GM struggled meeting the challenge of higher fuel prices.
Closing the deal
By 1986, the quest for a midengine Corvette was ready to create another giant figure, and it got one when a young designer named Tom Peters began work on the Corvette Indy concept car. Peters went on to become the chief designer of the sixth- and seventh-generation C6 and C7 Corvettes and play a key role in starting work on the 2020 C8.
With a radically short hood compared to production ‘Vettes and cutting-edge technologies including four-wheel steering, traction control and active suspension, the Indy — so named because it used a 2.65L V8 Chevy developed for Indy Car racing — kept dreams of the midengine ‘Vette alive
The 1990 CERV III — this time the C stood for “Corporate,” not Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle — was the next step. Datini’s research convinced him it was an attempt at a production version of the Indy.
CERV III had scissors doors and was built of Kevlar, carbon fiber and aluminum. With a 650-hp twin-turbo 5.7L V8, GM predicted a top speed of 225 mph. It debuted at the 1990 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
After that, work on the midengine Corvette went undercover for two decades. Photos of disguised prototypes at test tracks surfaced from time to time, but the car seemed to be as much myth as metal. There are whispers the Great Recession halted work on one, setting development back years.
A display of Zora Arkus-Duntov known as “The Godfather of the Corvette” at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020. (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
Development of the 2020 Corvette Stingray began around eight years ago, a long time for most projects, but the blink of an eye when it’s the last chapter of a 60-year story.
Mark Phelan for Detroit Free Press
Revolution, as the documentary is titled, will air in two parts and goes deep behind the scenes of the biggest ever change to the Corvette.
If there’s one word that describes the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray pretty darn well, it’s probably “Revolutionary.” It’s the first time in the nameplate’s history that the engine resides behind the driver, as Chevy elevates its long-running sports car to battle the world’s best.
Naturally, curious minds have to wonder what went on behind the scenes to make this car come together. Chevy has good news for you. Revolution, a two-part documentary detailing the C8-generation Corvette’s development, is set to air in the coming months, the brand said Monday.
Chevy told Roadshow the documentary will air on the Corvette’s homepage here, but for now, the quick trailer embedded above will give fans a taste of what the upcoming feature holds. There’s plenty of first-hand knowledge on display — the team that put the latest car together gets plenty of camera time. Numerous people in the mid-engine Corvette program spill how it felt to take an icon and reinvent it.
The documentary announcement comes just after Chevy announced that the production of the 2020 Corvette Stingray kicked off on Monday. With the C7-generation car in the rearview mirror, and all necessary retooling done for the mid-engine car, the workforce in Bowling Green, Kentucky is solely focused on the new Corvette.
Chevy didn’t have an exact timeline for when the first part of the documentary will air, but it should give fans eagerly awaiting their cars something to pass the time as deliveries begin in early March at the latest. Hopefully by this summer, we’ll see plenty of 2020 Corvettes on the road as the plant ships them out to their new homes.
When you’re Chevrolet and you have access to five-time Le Mans winner Oliver Gavin, it’s a smart idea to shove him behind the wheel of a new C8 Corvette with the Z51 performance package and point him out for a flying lap of the Nordschleife. These lap times are largely irrelevant as they absolutely do not correlate to driving enjoyment or real-world usable performance, but it’s a slightly abstract way to compare the relative abilities of sports cars.
With ideal conditions and an incredibly capable driver, Chevrolet managed a lap time of 7 minutes and 29.9 seconds. That’s quicker than a recent independent test Porsche 992 time, and Chevrolet’s own high-powered Camaro ZL1. That said, it’s 16 seconds off the pace of the C7-generation Corvette Z06. Interesting? Maybe.
Chevrolet confirmed to RoadShow that this was the lap time, as hidden (below) in a teaser video for its upcoming documentary on the development of the C8.
Are you and I capable of this lap time? Hell no. But the car is capable of it in the right hands, and I guess that has bragging rights of some kind.
Obviously this is still just the base model Corvette with its 495 horsepower V8 mounted in the middle. The Z51 pack adds aero bits, better tires, better suspension, and better cooling for the entire car. There will be more powerful, better, and faster Corvettes coming, but for now you can rest assured knowing a C8 Corvette is slightly faster around the ‘ring than the big bad supercharged Camaro. That is, unless the ZL1 was of the 1LE variety (which ran a 7:16.04).
Bradley Brownell for Jalopnik