The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray has been labeled “America’s Sports Car” for decades. It’s served as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 a record 16 times since 1978. And for 40 years, the Corvette has been made in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The General Motors plant is as nationalistic as any manufacturing city. It shares geographic headquarters with other iconic American companies—Holley to Russell, Camping World to Fruit of the Loom.
But Chevy has expanded its motoring preferences outside of Kentucky and its seven bordering states. The debuts of the 2020 C8 Corvette and its 2021 sibling, both delayed in production by the coronavirus pandemic, feature what Chevy considered for decades: a mid-engine.
With diminishing sales for several years, the eighth generation is unlike any previous Corvette. Its engineers, similar to other renowned American artists, were influenced by European
supercar masters from Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren. Some purists were aghast; others welcomed the change.
With a starting price of less than $60,000 and stunning specs—a 6.2-liter V8, top speed of 194 miles per hour and 0-60 mph acceleration in less than three seconds—the new Corvette has global sales aspirations. Chevy hopes its flagship sports car’s reputation, cultivating since 1953, accelerates across continents and into competitors’ domains. It will debut with higher performance packages standard in the United Kingdom within a few months.
The new Corvette also disrupts previous signature traits. An eight-speed, double-clutch transmission replaces a stick shift. Paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel offer more driver participation. Performance all around is enhanced with the z51 package ($5,000).
With its new design, the rear-wheel-drive C8 is longer, wider and 366 pounds heavier than the previous generation. The driver sits a foot closer to the front of the car. The transparent roof is removable and storable in a rear compartment. The steering wheel is squared off top and bottom. A healthy growl is prominent at ignition, but as a daily driver or getaway weekend sports car, the Corvette is maturely quiet.
Climate controls and other functions traditionally engaged on the dash are now operated from a narrow, angled column of buttons between the seats. It’s an odd, exotic look and it creates a shared gauge border between occupants, who sit in comfortable cockpits. It’s not a spacious cabin, but there’s more room
than in previous Corvette models. The hood design with its downward pointed nose and lack of an engine below affords a vast view of the road. Driving modes include Sport, Touring and Z-Mode. The latter allows individualized driver settings. It all complements the performance of the 495-horsepower, two-seat wonder. Beauty is defined inside and outside.
The Corvette’s subjective moniker as “America’s Sports Car” is still valid. But its proud Kentucky heritage and previous manufacturing roots in Michigan and Missouri now include European ancestry. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Photos Courtesy Chevrolet