Chevrolet C8 Corvette: A Bold Step Into the Mid-Engine Future
It feels like yesterday when Chevrolet released the news about a Corvette C8. A mid-engined sports car, from Corvette? When I read that, I refreshed my internet browser to make sure there wasn’t a glitch – something didn’t seem right. Low and behold, after some research, I found out it was true. Although we’re still in disbelief about the news over a year later, General Motors is allowing us a glimpse into how this bold idea came to fruition.
News of the mid-engined C8 Corvette changed the trajectory of the brand. The internet was set ablaze with the usual sites discussing the story, hyping the idea, and speculating engine specifications, while others, as you can imagine, were reluctant to accept the change.
The feedback on the internet boards was even harsher. The critics felt it couldn’t compete with some of the mid-engined supercars of the world, but the designers at Corvette worked tirelessly to prove them wrong. An article was released by the North State Journal recently called the 2020 Corvette the “attainable mid-engined supercar,” which illustrates the work General Motors has put in to silence the naysayers.
The Corvette is a global icon responsible for altering the history of the sports car, and now it’s doing it with supercars. The C8 Corvette is a vehicle the everyday person can save up for and buy, especially when compared to its competitors. It makes the risk General Motors took to alter a successful product even bolder.
Brett Golliff, Color & Trim Design Manager at Global Chevrolet, describes how “we reached a point where we had to move to a mid-engine design.” The C8 Corvette is unlike anything the automaker has ever created, with the exception of a 1986 concept, the Corvette Indy. Not only did they overhaul something with a loyal following, but they moved it into a different weight class.
Despite making the bold move, the mid-engine supercar is extremely unique when compared to the Audi R8, Acura NSX, and Porsche 911 Carrera S – with the price point setting it apart. While the cost of a typical supercar can rival that of some country’s total GDPs, the C8 Corvette is affordable to someone who’s been saving for a few years and looking to splurge.
Tom Peters, Former Director of Exterior Design at GM Performance Car Studio, discussed how fighter jets were the primary source of inspiration for the mid-engine supercar. “They’re high-performance, purpose-driven, and have a singular mission. It relates to Corvette beautifully.” If you’re going to build a high-performance sports car and use a fighter jet as your reference, it’s going to be special.
Another huge influence for Corvette is its rich history in racing. The 2020 C8 Corvette Stingray is a culmination of all the experiences from vehicles in the past. The character you see in the design stems from the functional aspect of their race vehicles.
“Obviously it’s a shift where we placed the motor, but what caused that shift is what you saw grow from four to five to six to seven, and it was time to move on,” according to Brett Golliff. Corvette saw the opportunity to change once they exhausted all resources updating their previous models, and despite the risk, the mid-engine has always been an idea beneath the surface.
From the designer’s vantage point, it’s daunting to start a project like this. Everything is new from the ground up, and the first step was searching for a theme that adhered to the mid-engine layout. How much lower is the instrument panel? How much richer will the material be? How much more sculptural and three-dimensional will the interior space be? This is just some of what the team faced.
Tristan Murphy, the Interior Design Manager at GM, is proud of what they’ve accomplished – “we achieved everything we set out to do, and when you sit in the car, you don’t really notice you’re doing something different. It feels like you’re part of the car it feels like the right decision.” It offers an experience that’s so exotic or otherwise unattainable, but it can be yours, and it will reach a much higher volume of people with its attractive price point.
This is just the beginning, and like other models in years past, Corvette will continue growing this new technology and right any wrong they experience along the way. We have reached a new stage of American supercars, and as it continues growing in popularity, we’ll see more of this attainable modern marvel filling our roads.