Zora Arkus-Duntov, the General Motors engineer oft referred to as the “father of the Corvette,” tried for decades to convince his employers that the best-performing Corvette would have a mid-engine layout. To prove his point, Duntov created a number of mid-body prototypes, beginning in 1960 with the CERV-1 (Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle), but his efforts repeatedly fell upon deaf ears on the upper floors of Detroit’s West Grand Boulevard.
With the introduction of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, also referred to as the “C8” for being the eighth iteration, the late Duntov finally gets his due.
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“This has always been Corvette’s destiny and is the supercar that we’ve all wanted to see for so long,” says Mark Reuss, president of GM. That engine, like its predecessor, is a naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8, but don’t let the familiar specs fool you. “The displacement is the same and the number of cylinders is the same, but everything else is all new,” Reuss tells us. With the optional performance package (including performance exhaust system), the Corvette C8 will reach 495 hp and 470 ft lbs of torque, and Reuss promises a zero-to-60-mph time of less than three seconds. Shifts will come from an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and drivers will also be able to transition through gears using paddle shifters.
Creating the C8 wasn’t merely a case of moving the power plant; the iconic sports car has been repackaged into a radical design sure to draw new fans, even if it risks alienating old ones. “This is not merely a new chapter in Corvette history, it’s a whole new book,” says Phil Zak, global executive design director for Chevrolet. Zak’s team was inspired by high-end motorcycles and fighter jets, apparent in the C8’s taut lines and dramatic side scoop.
As remarkable as the Corvette’s transformation is its price: When the C8 goes on sale later this year, it will start at $60,000. Expect an entire range of Corvettes to follow, including a convertible and the C8.R race car.
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