The news cycle for GM’s mysterious mid-engine car is on an endless loop these days with etched-in-stone talking points that barely budge.
Getting any update from GM or peripheral Corvette sycophants has been hopelessly fruitless so we automotive scribes have been relegated to treading water on the waves of the internet grasping at any piece of news like a chunk of driftwood that might float us to the promised land.
For now, let’s say this mid-engine car from GM is a Corvette. Some folks think it’s a Cadillac but that’s a different battle for another day.
The boilerplate that has emerged for the notion of a C8–mostly from speculation–is as follows: a range-topping, mid-engine supercar with a multi-valve V8 engine and benefitting from a clean-sheet chassis design leveraging everything GM engineering can muster. A “Halo” car that represents the pinnacle of mighty General Motors Design.
What if all that’s wrong?
What if the new mid-engine Corvette isn’t a halo car but an “affordable” stablemate to the existing C7? The first salvo of Corvette as a multi-model franchise?
What if GM is not only going to maintain it’s slot as the world’s leading sports car maker, but defend it’s position AND gobble up more market share by adding a revolutionary supercar sibling to the “standard” Corvette? One that would maintain the current pricing structure of the C7 but literally re-writes the rules–and history–for performance cars forever?
How ’bout dat?
Although Corvette Online has previously talked–ad nauseum–about the conundrum of why GM would EVER change it’s decades old, best-selling Corvette blueprint, an article by Keith Cornett over at CorvetteBlogger, reports fresh clues about the C8 from veteran auto journalist Don Sherman.
GM owns almost 50% of the sports car market in the $75-100k segment. It’s sales are almost THREE times that of second place Porsche 911. If you count Camaro sales, GM’s grip on the performance market tightens even more.
It’s been said that GM makes $10k for every Suburban SUV sold, so a Corvette, with a similar MSRP, probably is as big a cash cow for GM. For the record, GM sold over 40,000 Corvettes in 2016 and around 32,000 Corvettes in 2017. Serious numbers and profit.
How would YOU like to get in front of GM President Dan Amman, GM CEO Mary Barra, and GMNA President Mark Ruess down at the “Silver Silos” on the Detroit river and propose throwing ALL THAT out the window with a new-fangled, mid-engine design that might alienate a huge swath of faithful Corvette buyers? A “tough” meeting indeed.
Current events regarding General Motors are key here as well. After the US auto titan pulled out of multiple overseas markets–including South Africa, India and friggin’ Europe–GM President Dan Amman stated, “We will remain in markets only where we are strong or could be strong…” Based on that, and the previously mentioned sales figures, it’s clear why GM chose to invest two-thirds of a billion dollars into Bowling Green and it’s segment-leading, sports car enterprise.
For long time auto mag followers, Don Sherman’s take on all this is the next best thing to a full on reveal of the damn car. His musings about the C8, which originally appear on insurance gurus Hagerty’s website, are interesting and support the idea of a chicken in every pot and a mid-engine supercar in every driveway.
Sherman says, “Considering that Chevy currently owns more than 40 percent of the $50-100,000 sports car market, flipping the switch from C7 to a radically different and more-expensive C8 would be insanity. Instead, building both Corvettes concurrently will allow the faithful to decide which best suits their fantasies.
With 500 or so horsepower on tap and a base price below $70,000, the 2020 C8 should revolutionize the supercar category. As this new platform matures, Chevy will add alternatives to today’s LT1 including an all-wheel-drive hybrid (possibly called E-Ray) and a twin-turbo DOHC V-8 hammering out a remarkable 1,000 horsepower.
A warning: Don’t trust the spy photos of camouflaged C8 mules undergoing winter development tests. To hide the real design from our curious eyes, those prototypes were constructed by Chevy’s racing partner, Pratt & Miller Engineering, using Daytona Prototype exterior panels. When your task is nurturing wild Corvette dreams, chicanery is to be expected.
The delicious dilemma due in 18 months is what Corvette shoppers with $70,000 burning a hole in their wallet will choose. Will it be a Corvette Grand Sport with a traditional powertrain layout or the mid-engine C8? Ladies and gentlemen, start your deliberation engines.”
So, for all you die-hard, old-school ‘Vette fans, would an attainable, state-of-the-art mid-engine supercar put to rest any reservations about the future of Corvette? Is there room for two Corvette models, standing shoulder to shoulder and offering buyers two flavors of General Motors fire power?
Maybe Chevy’s new ad slogan should be, “Baseball, Hot dogs, Supercars and Chevrolet?”