Tag: Corvette

The Corvette, and American society

This weekend Chevrolet is bringing a 2020 Corvette to Road America in Elkhart Lake.
I’m not going. I have other plans. Although I’ve always enjoyed Road America since the first time I went there in the 1980s (where there are photos of me appearing to break into a Ferrari and I got one of the worst sunburns of my life), I prefer the July vintage event, during one of which I found this:

No, I didn’t buy it.

Chevrolet also released its dealer tour schedule. The C8 is going to make one appearance in Wisconsin, on Sept. 30. (Which, if you consult your 2019 calendar, is on a Monday.) It will make two in Illinois, and one in Iowa.

The color I would like …

… isn’t offered, of course.

Readers know that I have been skeptical about this Corvette, largely because of its lack of manual transmission, which is a basic piece of any sports car. The rear/mid-engine placement of the engine is an application of technology from a company with historical difficulty in bringing new tech to the public that works as intended all the time.

It has been reported repeatedly that Zora Arkus-Duntov, stepfather of the Corvette (he didn’t create the Corvette, Harley Earl did, but Duntov wrote a detailed letter to GM chronicling everything wrong with the first Corvette, and so GM hired him), thought the Corvette should be mid-engine. (Which the Corvette actually has been for several years. A mid-engine car has its engine either behind the front wheels or ahead of the back wheels. Duntov sought a rear/mid-engine instead of a front/mid-engine.)

Well, with all due respect to Duntov, and not being an automotive engineer myself, I wonder how many rear/mid-engine cars he actually used on a daily basis, or got a dealer to fix, or tried to fix without having actual automotive engineering skills. Those people, not car engineers, are the owners of Corvettes.

Ate Up With Motor describes the C2 and C3 conflict between styling and engineering:

The design of the Sting Ray had been the source of many clashes between Bill Mitchell and Zora Arkus-Duntov. Duntov was contemptuous of the car’s nonfunctional styling gimmicks and poor aerodynamics; the C2 had low drag, but an alarming amount of high-speed lift. Duntov was only an engineer, however, while Mitchell was a vice president of one of GM’s most powerful departments. Although Mitchell never enjoyed the almost unquestionable clout of his predecessor, who had had the patronage of GM chairman Alfred P. Sloan, GM’s senior management was well aware that Mitchell’s work was responsible for a great deal of GM’s market domination. In a clash between Duntov and Mitchell, the victor was inevitable.

Duntov wanted the Corvette Sting Ray’s replacement, which originally was slated to appear for the 1967 model year, to be smaller, leaner, and more aerodynamic, ideally with a rear- or mid-mounted engine. Mitchell, for his part, loved to make cars look aerodynamic, but he wasn’t terribly concerned if they actually were or not.

Like Harley Earl before him, Mitchell was a believer in the formula of longer-lower-wider, and he felt sports cars should have long hoods. He was no fan of the rear-engine layout that Duntov wanted, which he thought would be ugly. Mitchell envisioned the third-generation Corvette more like the XP-755 show car, known as Mako Shark.

Contemporary automotive journalists sneered at the many gimmicks of the Mako Shark and its successor, the 1965 Mako Shark II, both of which were the work of stylist Larry Shinoda, designer of the Sting Ray. Duntov didn’t care much for it either, but public reaction was favorable and in short order, the Mako Shark was approved as the basis of the third-generation C3 Corvette.

As for Duntov’s desired mechanical changes, GM senior management had no stomach for an expensive revamp of the Sting Ray platform. With Corvette sales on the upswing, there seemed to be no reason to mess with success.

A repair guy figured out a problem about the engine’s location:

Automobile Magazine opines the C8’s worst and best  features:

Worst Things About the C8 Corvette

That silly line of buttons down the center console. In person, it’s not nearly as awkward or intrusive as we thought from the photos—it actually looks kind of slick. That is, until you look more closely at the plasticky, cheap-looking buttons that fill it: They’re straight from the corporate parts bin. We understand why, but we can’t say we like it.

No manual transmission option. Yes, we know hardly anyone would buy a manual version. Ain’t care.

The rear end in general. We’re no purists (no specific number of taillamps, or their shape, is essential, for example) but we know a hot mess when we see it. Our design editor feels the same way.

The forthcoming bench racing.The Corvette’s price-to-performance ratio is going to spawn a whole generation’s worth of “just get a Corvette instead of X” posts on every forum we read, and likewise letters to the Automobile editors.

The wait. We still have months and months before we drive it, and before it goes on sale.

Best Things About the C8 Corvette

It’s less than $60,000! That’s Supra money for what is likely to be McLaren 570S-like performance. Even if “less than” means “$59,999” and comes before destination charges, it’s still something special.

Zero to 60 mph takes less than three seconds with the Z51 package and performance exhaust.That’s the best kind of crazy. Did we mention the price for this level of performance?

The engine and transaxle are super, super low in the car. This will certainly aid in handling.

The fit and finish. While the cars at the unveil we attended were hand-built prototypes, the interior materials’ quality and fit and finish are definitely intended to answer 30 or more years of criticism of the Corvette’s cabin. It’s a shockingly nice place to be—as long as you don’t look too closely at those buttons. Also, it’s available with brown paint.

The small, square steering wheel looks like it will be a joy to use. Plus, it leaves enough room for drivers more than six feet tall and of a certain leg diameter to move around as we attempt to tame Chevy’s mid-engine beast.

I’m not sure I agree with at least three of those five points, two of which are contradictory. The chance someone will drive off with a C8 for less than $60,000 is zero, merely due to GM’s destination and other charges and dealer markups, which will be substantial. That doesn’t include one single option — such as the Z51 option, without which there is no claimed 0–60 time, which itself is a Chevy claim unproven by anyone not employed by GM. So you can have a sub-$60,000 Corvette (except you can’t), or you can go 0–60 in 2.8 seconds (though that remains to be seen), but not both.

As for the steering wheels worked better in a non-round shape, all cars would have non-round steering wheels. The bottom of the steering wheel was squared off on C6s and C7s, and though I don’t like the look, that might be said to have a function. (Except that I have driven legs-only with round steering wheels for years without mishap.)

About the C8’s looks, Robert Cumberford writes:

I was working hard in 1955 on a C2 planned for 1958, but its advanced rear-transaxle chassis finally achieved production only with the 1997 C5. That layout did reach production in 1977—outside General Motors—with the Porsche 928, created in part by Anatole Lapine, who’d worked with me on the stillborn ’50s C2. I know little about behind-the-scenes projects that might have occurred during the 40 years between my departure from GM in 1957 and the arrival of the C5 but I suspect that there were a lot of exciting and highly feasible—but not fundable—projects. I do know that Zora Arkus-Duntov advocated for mid-engine Corvettes at least 60 years ago, and that he built a mid-engine CERV research single-seater in the Fifties with its small block V-8 behind the driver. So this car has come to market extremely late.

Some 1970s mid-engine GM concept cars were built to show off the Wankel rotary engines GM might have built, but they were not specifically Corvette prototypes in name. Which is too bad, because they were better-looking than this actual C8. I am deeply sorry to be severely disappointed by the styling of the C8. I hoped for something really new and exciting, not a boringly generic supercar, mostly indistinguishable from the many and varied unimaginative devices that show up regularly at the Geneva auto show. Its styling is confused—and downright messy in fact. I count a dozen horizontal lines, not to mention four convoluted taillights; four nice rectangular exhaust tips; plus varied slots, vents, grilles, indented surfaces, and wing elements . . . just across the rear fascia. The front is no better, and the profile with its short, stumpy nose is equally surprising. Maybe it’s all meant to look purposeful, but to me it seems just a careless, cluttered graphic composition, not worthy of Corvette history and what we expect of this technically brilliant descendant of the Jaguar-inspired elegant original C1 from 1953.

I have no doubt that this will be a very good car, with truly world class performance coupled with American-style daily usefulness and (perhaps) easy servicing—dry-sump engines are not typical dealer shop fare. But I’d have liked to see some traces of the Astrovette or the four-rotor mid-engine concept from the Bill Mitchell era.

That would be one of these:

XP-819 (shown in front of a C2) was a rear-engine prototype, with the engine behind the rear wheels, instead of in front, as with the C8. The past several Corvettes have been technically front/mid-engine, with the engine in front but behind the front wheels, for better weight distribution.
XP-880, also known as the Astro II.
XP-882.
The AeroVette started with a four-rotor Wankel rotary engine, then went to a 400 V-8, both mounted behind the driver’s seat. Those are hinged gullwing doors, an idea whose time never came at GM.
The red car is the Corvette Indy, which begat CERV III.

Compare and contrast previous Corvettes to the C8 in this magnificent illustration by Paco Ibarra:

The problem with nearly every rear/mid-engine car I have ever seen is there is usually more car behind the B-pillar (behind the door) than in front of the A-pillar (ahead of the door), which makes it look imbalanced in the wrong direction. As it is, nothing about this C8 screams Corvette to me; it looks like a teenage kid’s dream of a midengine car that could be made by anybody.

Another point made elsewhere is that GM is coming out with an exotic car supposed to make people forget about Ferraris and Porsches and Lamborghinis (oh my!), and yet it has the same engine the C7 has — a naturally aspirated overhead two-valve V-8. It is a very good overhead-valve V-8, and it wouldn’t stop me from buying a Corvette, but it seems illogical to feel the need to make it mid-engine with an exotic dual-clutch transmission without, say, a four-valve overhead-cam V-8 similar to the “King of the Road” C4. Anyone snobbish enough to turn up his nose over a front-engine Corvette isn’t going to be more convinced by a mid-20th century engine design that lacks the exotica of whatever Ferrari is sticking under its hoods now. (Or an exotic transmission installed in part because of the laziness or inabiliity of potential buyers to shift and use a clutch.)

You might say that the C7 engine is terrific, and it is. You might also point out my previous point about unproven GM tech. But the supposed point here is to make the Corvette appeal to those who wouldn’t buy Corvettes previously because they’re not supercarish enough (independent of the most important consideration, performance vs. price), and on that important point it fails because it’s not a Chevrolet, not a Corvette, and not a car with a 21st-century engine made of unobtainium. And in the process, GM alienated all the Corvette fans who wanted a better iteration of the previous formula (front-mid-engine, rear-drive, available manual transmission) that is one of the few profitable cars GM makes.

The worst thing about the C8 actually has nothing to do with the car, and has everything to do with people’s reactions to the car. One expects GM to shift the hype machine into overdrive. But one would hope adults would be at least somewhat resistant to the hype machine, particularly journalists. The aforementioned writing is all I could find from the auto enthusiast publications remotely critical of the C8.

In 1968 Car & Driver tested the first C3 Corvette and pronounced it undrivable because it was put together so poorly. Even after GM figured out how to put it together correctly, auto magazines pointed out correctly that the C3 was simultaneously a bigger car with less passenger and luggage space. Road & Track was particularly critical about the Corvette for decades, perhaps concluding it should have been more like a Jaguar E-Type (while ignoring British cars’ hideous quality reputations). Dissing the home team product wasn’t necessarily easy to do given GM’s advertising dollars. Now apparently they’re all sellouts.

The bigger issue, though, is that reaction to this new Corvette mirrors everything else in the sewer of our public discourse, on politics, sports teams, music preferences, what you watch (or don’t) on TV including iterations of “Star Trek,” food choices and everywhere else. We are supposed to believe, according to its uncritical fanboys, that the C8 is better than sex, chocolate chip cookies, sunny summer days and puppies, and how dare anyone express a contrary opinion.

I have read accusations that those who are not unalloyed fans of the C8 are Neanderthals stuck in the last century who can’t afford to buy one anyway, because insulting someone for their different opinion is so effective in changing opinions. (Not.) Someone actually bothered to create a Corvette owner stereotype that skipped past the usual midlife crisis trope to specifically include not gold chains and bad combovers, but jean shorts and white New Balance shoes.

No, this is not me. I own neither white New Balances nor “jorts” nor this Corvette.
This is me, but sadly not my Corvette either.
This is also me, but also not my Corvette.

Certainly, except possibly for the C2, every generation has been controversial for those who believe no Corvette but their favorite is really a Corvette. The C3 was way out there in appearance compared with the C2. The C4 had two horrible-looking instrument panels and was hard to get into and out of. The C5 looked blah. The C6 dumped the hidden headlights. The C7 got rid of a bunch of gauges and looked like a rearward-stretched C6.

For at least the last three generations (plus the King of the Hill C4) the Corvette has, however, been the best performance bargain on the planet, regardless of whether front-engine and rear-drive is the apotheosis of vehicular technology. GM, which has proven less than competent at big technological risks, has taken another one by selling its halo car — which has made money for GM for decades, unlike most of its current cars — with technology GM hasn’t used before and inadequately tested before it hits the market next year (there is no substitute for the real world) in a quest for buyers who don’t own Corvettes because they lack, in their misguided opinions, panache.

GM’s claim that they’re almost sold out needs a reminder that GM has not sold a single C8 Corvette. Not one. (I am highly skeptical of all the online claims of people ordering them. I could state that I own one of every generation Corvette, and no one reading this could prove otherwise.) And until they’re actually on the road, none of GM’s claims about the Corvette have proof.

GM has traditionally been one of the poorer run megacorporations for decades. (The conditions that resulted in the GM bailout far predated the Great Recession.) So maybe I shouldn’t suggest that GM could have kept building the C7, or updated it, while also selling the C8 as the Corvette Zora or something like that. The C7 makes money for GM. There is no guarantee the C8 will, and if it goes away, so will Corvette.

 

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Here comes the last Corvette

Tonight at 10 p.m. Central time …

… the eighth-generation Corvette gets revealed.

This is destined to be the final Corvette for one of two reasons. It is impossible for GM — the developer of such great leaps forward in automotive technology as the Chevrolet Vega (with melting aluminum engine) and Citation (prominent on the lists of the Worst Cars of All Time), Computer Command Control, V-8-6-4 engine and other examples of Not Ready for Prime Time Tech — to get this right right away, particularly when the rumored all-wheel-drive version comes out, since GM has never manufactured a rear/mid-engine all-wheel-drive vehicle.

The other reason is its price. Either the Corvette is going to be an order of magnitude more expensive than any previous Corvette, or GM won’t make money on it. GM has made money on its Corvettes for decades, but that may end now. Either way, when GM fails to make its profit expectations on this car, that certainly will kill the Corvette.

About that, Raphael Orlove writes:

I’ll start with a little digression. Back in 2007, another gigantic corporate megalith debuted a new generation of one of its classic sports car nameplates. It was controversial in its engine layout, its styling, its size, its weight, everything. But over the years people came to understand it as a legendary vehicle. I’m talking about the R35 Nissan GT-R.

What made that car such an icon was that it offered supercar performance for decidedly not-supercar prices. As we noted a few years ago, at $69,850 was about $30,000 less than a Corvette ZR-1, but not slower.

The thing is, the GT-R has grown increasingly expensive over the years and now is not just as fast as a six-figure car, but priced as a six-figure car. If you want one, you need to drop more than $100,000 for it, at which point it’s not really moving any narrative forward. It’s just a fast car that’s expensive, just like all the other ones, only it has a V6 for some reason. There’s nothing special about it.

The point is, dynamics unchanged, the price is what made the GT-R once iconic and now normal.

The same situation presents itself with the mid-engine Corvette. As anyone who has driven a C7 (or any other modern Corvette) could tell you, the way the car drives is just about faultless. It has tons of power, even in base form. The handling is great. The ride, particularly once you get into the magnetic shocks era, is outstanding. These are usable, practical, exploitable performance cars. They have been for years. There is no reason to doubt that the C8 will be, like the C7 before it, a great driving car.

But if it costs $100,000 or more, there’s no real point to it existing. What’s the point of GM, basically, making a non-turbo McLaren of a few years ago? It’s not new thematically, other than being made by GM. There’s nothing there to prove. There’s nothing meaningful going on there.

But if the car costs what a regular front-engine Corvette does now or even just above it, say, at around an R35-esque $70,000 mark, things are different. Then GM is advancing the sports car narrative. It’s then offering an exotic car platform at a non-exotic price. It’s democratizing a mid-engine powerhouse, and it’s not coming from some low-volume manufacturer. This is Corvette, not DeTomaso Panteras being sold by Lincoln-Mercury dealers.

So while everyone else sweats 0-60 times and power-to-weight figures, keep your eye focused on the MSRP. That’s the only thing here that could make a good car great.

The childlike faith in GM management is pretty disgusting to read. GM seems to believe that one of the great performance bargains in the entire world is not sufficiently exotic enough for buyers interested in Ferraris, Porsches or other overpriced yet unreliable supercars. GM is also catering to the lazy by not equipping this Corvette with a manual transmission. I’m surprised GM didn’t throw in a V-6 instead of a V-8. And, according to Jalopnik

… a square steering wheel.

Not that this matters, since I won’t be buying one of these. In fact, thanks to my career choice and having children, I most likely won’t ever own a Corvette. As someone once put it, life’s a bitch, then you die.

The Corvette SUV returns

Two years ago the Detroit News asked the question of whether Chevrolet should build a Corvette SUV.

No, not this:

Something that would look more like a Porsche Cayenne:

Car & Driver returns to the subject:

In a recent interview with Automotive News, iconoclastic auto-industry figure and former General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz was asked about a number of topics, including Carlos Ghosn, Fiat Chrysler’s desire for a merger, and the Trump administration. But the most intriguing tidbit came when Lutz was asked about the mid-engined C8 Corvette and brought up what he would do with the Corvette brand if he still worked at General Motors.

“[If I were still at GM], what I would do is develop a dedicated architecture, super lightweight, super powerful, Porsche Cayenne–like, only much better and a little bigger, medium-volume Corvette SUV. Target worldwide 20,000 to 30,000 units, and price it starting at $100,000. Gorgeous interior. No V-6 powertrain. No low-end version. It has to be the stellar premium sport-utility made in the United States, and the Corvette brand could pull that off.”

Now, we don’t have any reason to think that a Corvette SUV is something that Chevy is even considering, and neither does Bob Lutz, seemingly. But what he said got us thinking: What if Chevy actually did make a Corvette SUV? It’s not such a preposterous idea even if there’s no basis for it, and we also think it’s a no-brainer for Chevy to expand the Corvette brand beyond just the titular model.

Porsche was a pioneer of the super-sporty SUV with the Cayenne, and since that model’s inception, tons of high-end manufacturers have all gotten into the fast-SUV game, tying in the models with their existing sports cars. But Chevy, which has a history of both iconic SUVs and iconic sports cars, has never even shown a concept imagining what a sporty SUV from the bow-tie brand could look like. So we took a shot at imagining it ourselves.

While we do like Lutz’s idea of an expensive Corvette SUV with no low-end version, we think it’s a bit unrealistic. To better compete with the Cayenne, an entry-level Corvette SUV should have a starting price point of around $70,000 and a twin-turbo V-6. But it would need at least a couple different V-8 engine options, and there would have to be high-performance variants. Chevy could easily position a Corvette SUV as the sportiest and most road-oriented of all the high-end SUVs, which would set it apart from the competition.

It would probably need to ride on its own unique platform, as GM doesn’t really have anything that would be a perfect match. The Alpha platform that underpins the Camaro or the Omega platform that underpins the Cadillac CT6 could be possibilities, but neither are really fit for something that would be as sporty and crossover-like as a Corvette SUV would be. Unless Chevy would just say “screw it,” not offer all-wheel drive or any semblance of off-road ability, and build the SUV off the current front-engined C7 Corvette‘s platform.

The styling should be aggressive and tie into the regular Corvette, which would likely mean a coupe-like roofline and a low stance. The interior would need to be luxurious, as buyers in this space expect more from their cars than the middling materials and finishes of the current Corvette. Seating for four adults and at least a modicum of cargo space are a must—Corvette owners need to be able to carry golf clubs around, after all—but it probably wouldn’t have a targa top like the regular Corvette.

The only thing left for us to imagine is the name. Would it be Corvette Activ? Corvette Xtreme? Corvette TourX? Corvette Bison? Corvette Trail Boss? Corvette High Country? Corvette Z71? Corvette Trans Sport? GM has so many good off-road-y names to choose from.

And hey, there’s precedent for us thinking this is a good idea. In 1976, we drove a C3 Corvette to Alaska, and then we re-created the journey in 2007 with a C6. Just imagine how much easier that would be with a Corvette SUV!

I’m somewhat surprised Chevy isn’t considering this, given that it’s going to break its mold by introducing the not-necessary mid-engine no-manual-transmission eighth-generation Corvette at the end of this month. Chevy is already ruining the Corvette, so it might as well go further, right?
This might be the point at which GM should have spun off Corvette from Chevy and into its own division. That would have allowed the Corvette division to have the current front-engine rear-drive Corvette and the next mid-engine model, and priced the latter higher than what is expected. Selling a completely new-tech Corvette for slightly more than the current Corvette means that (1) GM is going to lose money on the C8, or (2) GM cut costs and therefore failed to address the principal complaint about Corvettes, their interior.

An SUV would fit just fine into a Corvette division, as would a four-seater (Camaro). Each could again be priced higher than people expect from a Chevrolet.

 

Mustangs and Chargers and Corvettes! Oh my!

One of the two Car Chase Wonderland YouTube channels recently posted tributes to movies with car chases featuring Ford Mustangs …

… and Dodge Charger …

… both of which were featured in the greatest car chase of all time:

My exhaustive coverage of Corvettes on this blog has included the lamentation of the lack of great movies and TV shows that feature Corvettes as central to the setting.

Someone then reminded me of this movie:

It turns out Car Chase Wonderland also has footage of other Corvette chases …

… though the extent to which any of these Corvettes are central to the movie, except for the abominable “Corvette Summer,” is debatable.

The last Corvette

Dave Cruikshank:

The front-engined Corvette is dead. GM head honcho Mary Barra delivered the news last week the final production C7 would be auctioned off this summer.

While the press skimmed the surface of this historic automotive event, The C7’s demise has received little in-depth coverage. Not only is this a melancholy milestone for us ‘Vette fans, but a little bit of an automotive Groundhog’s Day as well.

Case in point, take the introduction of the GM’s LS powerplant way back in 1996. It debuted in the 1997 C5 Corvette and then GM quietly phased out the Gen 1/Gen II small-block motors with little fanfare. By the time production halted, GM produced over 50 million old-school V8s, easily dwarfing the Model T, Corolla, and the VW Bug for all-time automotive sales goliath. Yet, it went out with a whimper and folks hardly noticed.

Fast forward to last week’s announcement the C7 was dead, and GM seems to be taking a similar tack, quietly pulling the plug on the the last front-engined ‘Vette. Lasting just six model years, the C7 will match the C2 as one of the shortest running generations in Corvette history.

It also quashes the conventional wisdom that the Corvette would be a two-platform lineup, at least for the time being. Let’s back up and review key events that led to the euthanization of the old-school Corvette.

GM invested almost two-thirds of a BILLION dollars in the expansion of Bowling Green. We were certain it was to accommodate two Corvette models. Some thought it would be a Cadillac variant or at the very least, the C7 would live on to appease traditional Corvette buyers.

Now that the C7 is dead, what’s going on in Bowling Green that required doubling the size of the factory? Is there a second model we don’t know about? In an SUV/CUV crazy market, it seems unlikely that GM would field a high-zoot sports car as the crown jewel of Cadillac. A more profitable Escalade would make sense, but a low volume sports car? Seems far-fetched at this point.

We know that high-performance engine assembly for Corvette (and now Cadillac’s Blackwing V8) has been brought in-house, and the paint shop is completely new, but what exactly will GM do to fully allocate a mega-expanded Bowling Green is up for debate. As we’ve all seen in the past few months, GM isn’t shy about shuttering plants if they aren’t running at darn near 100 percent capacity.

Especially risky for Bowling Green when you’re completely rewriting the rules of the brand and the jury is still deliberating if a mid-engine car will be warmly regarded by the Corvette faithful.

We would have loved to have been a fly-on-the-wall when Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter and gang pitched GM brass on the C8 Corvette. It was probably the hardest sales job ever in the annals of automotive history. Could you imagine the following scenario? Let’s cue up the wiggly lines on the TV and go back in time…

Picture Tadge at a round table with GM brass, “Hey, we are the undisputed king of sports cars in the North American market, selling between 25 to 40,000 units annually at a huge profit to the company. What we’re proposing is completely re-writing the template of the car, with a more exotic design. Even if it means alienating our fiercely loyal customers…”

As we know now, GM brass approved this strategy and we’ll have to see how it pans out at the end of the year when the C8 hits the market. If that weren’t enough change, there is most likely an electric or electric-assisted versions of the C8 waiting in the wings as well. Whether Chevrolet can maintain sales volume with a completely different car remains to be seen, which hints there could be more going on.

So if the C7 is dead, could a Corvette branded SUV be in the wings? This would make the most sense. Before you dismiss this as heresy, one only needs to look to the Porsche line-up and note its 2.5 ton Cayenne SUV accounts for the majority of Porsche sales and probably helped it survive and remain a semi-autonomous car company.

Chevrolet critics have long lobbied for a spin-off of the Corvette because they think the Bow Tie image is damaged or not cool enough to attract younger, foreign-brand leaning customers. We say Corvette and Chevrolet are intrinsically linked forever and busting them up is a long-shot, but still believe the Corvette as a multiple-platform brand has not been ruled out.

We speculated that the Camaro would replace the C7 as the front-engine, rear wheel drive “entry level” Corvette and we now feel vindicated. For decades, “the pony can’t outrun the horse” was an unwritten rule at Chevrolet. Corvette was the performance king, period. That credo was obliterated in slow-motion starting almost 10 years ago with the introduction of the Fifth Gen Camaro.

Chevy’s pony has since matched Corvette tit-for-tat with shared engines, an equally sophisticated chassis and the best tuning and refinement (thanks Al Oppenheiser) GM can bring to life. Not only has the Camaro been groomed (right before our eyes) to take the Corvette’s crown, it is one of the best performance cars on the market at any price. A fitting successor to our “old-fashioned” C7 and good news that we can all rejoice in.

I can personally attest how mystical the idea of a mid-engine Corvette has been for the last zillion years. I can remember as a kid, I’d hit the drugstore at the end of the month to see new issues of the big car magazines. Staring back at me from the news stands were headlines that barked “Secret Mid Engine Corvette Coming!”

Time and space would stand still, and I would plop down, right there on the spot, and read the story, hanging on every word. The pictures of Zora Arkus-Duntov and Bill Mitchell next to advanced Corvette prototypes at GM’s Warren, Michigan Design Center were exotic and beguiling.

Bristling with the latest high technology, these future Corvettes not only captured my imagination, but an entire generation of car lovers as well. Entire forests were clearcut over the years to print the latest scuttlebutt on a car which until this coming July 18th, 2019, never materialized.

    • The Mid-Engine Corvette story is decades in the making. Photos: General Motors

    You would think the announcement that the car is indeed slated for production would be heralded as the second automotive coming but sadly, that’s not reaction on the internet. Social media forums are the latrine walls of our generation and feedback on the new car has been brutal.

    “Oh look, a new Fiero,” is a common, fairly kind response. Another reader posts, “If I wanted a Ferrari, I’d buy a Ferrari..” Others are more blunt in their disdain for the new car, “It looks like sh*t…”

    Fair enough, but the hardpoints of a mid-engine car design are fixed and unmovable, and lend itself to look-a-like styling. Cab-forward passenger compartment, short hood, the elimination of aft stowing, and a rear bulkhead in the cabin, are just a few of the aforementioned obstacles engineers face, not to mention stylists.

    Which leads us to um, the styling. Chazcron over at MidEngineCorvetteForum always has the most up to date renders.

    Here’s our take: We predict the new-age C8 Corvette will be a game changer. We speculate the performance will be such a quantum leap ahead of the C7 that it makes the old car obsolete. We think once people see and drive the new car, it’s risky approval by GM will seem like a no-brainer.

    If it comes in at $75,000 (with the anticipated exponential leap in performance,) it will put the foreign exotics on the trailer – for a third of the price – and will change the global sport car market forever.

    It would serve us well to remember Zora Arkus-Duntov at this time. He was convinced the mid-engine layout was the evolution the Corvette was destined to undergo. He tried in vain for years to get a mid-engine car approved and sadly, died without seeing the birth of such a Corvette. We know he’s watching from up above with a smile…

    The childlike faith that GM will not screw up America’s only sports car boggles the mind. Everyone with the remotest interest in cars should know of GM’s record of new technology — the melting aluminum engine for the Chevy Vega, the Oldsmobile diesel V-8, Computer Command Control, the V-8-6-4 … shall I go on? How about the powerhouse Corvettes that got all of 165 horsepower in 1981 and 205 horsepower in 1984?

    A rear-mounted engine will be an engine that no normal person can do anything with beyond maybe checking the oil. Corvettes have always been cars their owners could work on, but apparently not anymore. Nor will a rear-engine Corvette have any room for luggage, unlike the C4 through the current C7. (So much for weekend getaways.) Nor will be the C8 be a car its drivers can shift, since they will all have automatic transmissions, a point Cruikshank ignored. (Manual transmissions require driver skill.)

    No one with any sense believes GM will sell the C8 for only a little more than the C7. This car will be more expensive to build, and Government Motors already has too many vehicles that don’t make money. Nevertheless, snobs who don’t buy Corvettes now because they’re not Ferraris or Porsches won’t buy Corvettes when they are rear-engine and more expensive. So this is likely the final Corvette, because GM will not sell as many Corvettes as they think, they will lose money, and they can’t lose money.

    A bargain at twice the price

    Real Clear Life:

    Did you recently run your little red Corvette right into the ground? Or is the Chevy sports car still on your bucket list, so far remaining just out of reach of your bank account? Either way, if you’re interested in a new ‘Vette, now is the time to buy.

    After it was revealed back in February that dealerships were weighed down with 9,000 C7 Corvettes, Chevrolet is offering a once-in-a-lifetime deal on the model: zero-percent financing for a whole 72 months (yes, six years), available until April 1st.

    That’s not all. Individual dealers are also offering additional discounts, a rare occurrence alongside the flatlined APR — normally, you get one or the other, not both. As the Drive points out, a quick search found a 2018 Corvette Z06 for $71,194 (down from $86K) and a 2018 Chevy Corvette Grand Sport for $62,297 (down from $78K). But the Corvette Stingray is also part of the offer, as you can see on Chevrolet’s Current Deals page.

    The reason for the surplus isn’t necessarily that these cars are undesirable, but that the next Corvette is so desirable that buyers are willing to wait until the eighth generation rolls out.

    But the Corvette C8 still hasn’t debuted, so as Carscoops notes, there will most likely be additional discounts for 2019 C7 models. So if you can’t decide in the next week, don’t despair — be on the lookout

    That is fortunate since i probably don’t have time to buy one by Monday.

    I decided to spec one out wigh minimum equipment…

    … and came up with $58,155 for a base Vette with only the darker red paint and transparent top. (I forgot Corvette Museum delivery for $990.) Going to the top of the line (while avoiding frivolous options like red brake pad calipers and Stingray logos )…

    … takes it up to $80,005. I can afford the $5.

    The alleged $169,900 Chevrolet

    Corvette Forum asks:

    It’s safe to say that no car in recent history has been more hyped up and talked about than the forthcoming C8 Corvette. But that’s what happens when you’re allegedly taking an American icon and changing the entire drivetrain layout. Thus, we’ve been awash with more rumors and conjecture than usual in regards to Chevy’s radical new Corvette. The latest of which popped up right here at Corvette Forum recently. And it’s safe to say that you probably won’t like it.

    “$169,900 is a go,” said Zerv02“If you’re in the under 100k camp, you will be disappointed. Let the madness ensue.”

    Now, if you’re a regular around these parts, you already know that this is the same member who allegedly saw the C8 Corvette interior with his own eyes. Then, he shared a sketch and some additional info about it with us. This claim, however, is more than a little shocking. Especially for those who believe the Corvette will continue its position as a value-priced supercar. And most people just aren’t buying it. Starting with f-16pilotTX.

    “I love all the contributions you shared with us Zerv02. But with all of the other evidence and credible sources, I just can’t see that happening, brotha.”

    Others, like fasttoys, point out the many obvious problems this price point would present for GM.

    “Lol I am out!!!!! Good luck GM. Zerv, you’ve lost your mind. If you’re correct, GM has lost their mind. Not buying a Chevrolet for 169k. I can buy a pre-owned 2017 Mclaren 570S for $145k with less than 4k miles and with a 3-year unlimited mile warranty. I can buy an Audi R8 for under that price. That is a hand-built car with a hand-built V10. Even the Viper was hand-built and came in at just $100k.”

    Others, including Corvette ED, don’t necessarily see a problem with it. That is, of course, if this is the price of the range-topping version with world-beating performance.

    “For the top-of-the-line 1,000 hp car, that price would be good. I see the base mid-engine car having a starting price of $65,000.”

    And in that regard, it makes a little more sense, especially if GM is aiming to go up against the best the world has to offer in terms of performance. Which is what the OP believes will be the case.

    “This will be a global car. An American GT to compete/rival the likes of Porsche, McLaren, the Italians, ect.”

    In that regard, a high price makes a little more sense. If Chevy wants to build a halo car similar to the Ford GT, they could certainly do so and charge a hefty premium. In limited numbers, it would most certainly sell out, as the GT did with no issue.

    Corvette Forum asked for opinions, and got them (abbreviations, misspellings and bad grammar not corrected):

    • My personal opinion is keep it do able for the common gm fan that being said tho is its it not time to evolve into what checy/gm is as a big name every type of race winner and it’s already proven in drag racing drifting etc but it’s not world renoun like Ferrari or McLaren l. What best way to that build a hyper car and disimate all that gonna cost a lot because r and d isnt cheap so if I pay that much I expect to get that much if u no what I mean
    • If GM decides that the C8 will be it’s only offering to the public and the price tag is on average 100k+, they can begin plant closing 6 months after the “kids” have their new toys.Just watch!
    • No closings due to $100k+ ZR1 and near-100k, Z06. In ’19, pricepoint won’t make a significant difference. Look at Harley. (2019 CVO is $44k.) Their issues are due to a vanishing demographic and Snowflakes’ inability to afford or even appreciate their products. (This phenomenon is killing Vettes too.) IMO, GM will continue with loss-leader C-8s at $60-$100k. The ZR1 will be “Holy Shit” high but, within a year, begin trickling down to relative affordability.
    • I believe GM has the ability to flatten the competition…..all of them…. at a reasonable price. But what is reasonable for a corvette? 165k ish? So be it. Holden/GM laid the smackdown on the 5 series with the G8. Apples and oranges i know, but i see i terrace type as its always been the last 20 years. You will be able to get 80% of the performance at 50% of the top tier cost with aftermarket close behind the lower performance optioned C8’s
    • I agree with you GM could lay the smack down but guess what ? a Lambo or Ferrari buyer will NEVER EVER buy one, they are filthy rich and the Corvette is a cheap car to them no matter where the engine sits or what the price is. I am a Corvette man no doubt about it but i win a couple of millions and guess what an real exotic will be sitting in my garage not a Corvette.
    • If GM has to make a mid-engine hyper-prized supercar with small production numbers, let them. But leave the Corvette out of it. In the real world, supercars dont exist, meaning most of us can never have them. Wanting what you cant have is a waste of dream. And keep the damn engine in the front where it should be, letting the drivers ass sit on the back wheels. Its a sportscar.
    • after working for GM 27 years, I can say they can make as much money mass producing the Corvette than putting a high dollar price tag that no one can afford, base will be $65,000
    • Also did work at GM for 27 years and am a fan of Sloan’s vision. Looking at the whole GM, I don’t see Corvette being their most expensive product. There’s already a disconnect having Corvette within Chevrolet, THE Corp’s volume brand. Then, GM should reinforce Cadillac as its premium brand. Cadillac cannot sustain its leadership image around the World with recent products, however good they may be: basically everyone is “good” today, and some relatively newcomers really excellent. The brand needs much more: it would need the Cien, the Ciel, even the Sixteen; those should sell in tiny volumes at very high prices and should not have to be individually profitable: a very difficult exercise for GM! But then, desirability of the brand will go up, and pull the upper half of GM’s lines, including Corvette.
    • Based on these photos I have no lust in my heart for the C8, no matter how well it drives. Hopefully they work out the shape because as shown it’s atrocious.
    • It looks great but $170 thousand, plus tax makes this pretty close to $200 grand. I guess we can all kiss Corvettes goodby! I guess that Corvettes will soon be a thing of the past. If 95% of the peple in this country can’t afford to purchase one then I’m sure GM will shut down production pretty fast. I have had one from every gen but 4 and I guess I won’t have one from 8.
    • I worked at GM for 39 years and I’ve learned in that time that upper management is disconnected from the everyday reality of the common man who is the Corvette buyer . The Corvette shoud remain a RWD car at a price that the common man can someday afford . This new model should have been moved to the Caddy lineup . There they might find buyers willing to part with close to 200 Grand for a car and sales tax’s .
    • I suspect that the majority of us Corvette enthusiasts bought our cars used…and at a fraction the new car price. Doesn’t mean we would not have bought a new one, but at some point family finances take over. I predict that a $170K Corvette would sell about 1/10th of the volume of the C7s (including all variants). With that few new C-8s out there, a large number of Corvette enthusiasts will be disappointed by the dirth of available used C-8 inventory and, possibly, move on to other brands/products. I don’t think that’s what GM wants…to effectively destroy the brand through its exclusivity. I think it possible that Corvette will either launch a “C-8 Corvette lite” or continue/further evolve the C-7 so that the C-8 could stand on its own as a Ford GT fighter and the rest of us could drive our favorite mark while dreaming of the day when we could step into a used C-8. Just my thoughts.
    • OK, If you got the bucks. The number of buyers is being cut down every year as the price keeps going up up up.
    • GM got bailed out by the US Government once, after that you can bet that GM will not subsidize a loss product again (ie SSR, Pontiac etc)., especially a marquee name like Corvette! Considering a 1LT msrp is around 60k and then there are 4-5 more expensive models after that up to 120k you have to look at the sales numbers and determine which category this new car needs to be in. While I like the Z06, I bought a new 1LT and added Z06 wheels and can’t be happier. Now I keep my cars, I have my original 92 and my original 05 SSR. So it will be exciting to see what comes out and their idea of an entry price. But you know if they do look good, you will not be able to get one for MSRP until 2021 as they will all be sold above MSRP just like the 2014 C7 were.
    • A Corvette that isn’t attainable isn’t a Corvette. The car should be built but it should be a Cadillac. Keep the Vette for the masses, elevate (and perhaps save) GMs most iconic brand with a Caddy super car! 

    I suspect that never in the history of the Corvette have there been so many negative reactions to a proposed new Corvette. If anyone at GM had a decent respect for the opinions of mankind — assuming these rumors are true, and you know what’s said about rumors — GM management would be concerned.

    For that matter, those who love Corvettes should be concerned. The great thing about the fifth-generation Corvette — and if you’re looking for a Christmas present for your favorite blogger may I suggest …

    … is that it is neither as mechanically complicated (front-engine rear-drive V-8 powered) nor as expensive nor as fussy as exotics that may deliver more performance but can’t really be used as daily drivers. GM has not built a mid-engine car since the Pontiac Fiero in the 1980s, so given GM’s quality reputation one should be suspicious it can pull this off, particularly given GM’s current problems. And given that GM makes money on every Corvette it makes now, a phrase about not fixing what isn’t broken comes to mind.

    As I’ve extensively documented here before, the Corvette might be the best performance bargain in the entire world, but not so much north of $100,000. Even with tires not recommended for use below 40 degrees, a Corvette that breaks down can still be fixed at one of the thousands of Chevy dealers in this country. That statement does not apply to Porsches, Ferraris or Lamborghinis.

    The next unaffordable Corvette

    This blog has reported from time to time the progress of the next supposedly mid-engine Corvette:

    The Corvette world has a mixed opinion about this, as Brett Foote notes:

    Historically, the Corvette has always been about two things, namely performance and value. For significantly less than the cost of an exotic supercar, you can go out, buy a Corvette, and run right with them. However, a funny thing seems to be happening ever since we found out Chevy was working on building a mid-engine C8 model. Suddenly, people started comparing this exciting new ride to cars far beyond its price range. Which is fair, really. But Corvette Forum member ColoradoGS hit the nail on the head with his assessment in this thread.

    “In so many of these C8 threads people are like ‘Ferarri this’ and ‘hypercar that.’ Suggestions of ‘well if the C8 isn’t XYZ, I’m gonna buy a McLaren!’ Story time.

    I went to the supermarket today at lunch in my grocery getter–a 2017 Grand Sport. I parked in the back of the parking lot (as one does) and when I came out there was a guy crouched down behind my car taking pictures with his phone. As I walked towards my car he stood up and asked ‘Is this your Vette?’ I can say with confidence that being able to say ‘Yeah, that’s my Vette’ after years of dreaming never gets old no matter how many times someone has asked.”

    C8 Corvette

    This particular conversion, it turned out, sparked an interesting point. One that we seem to have lost sight of in recent months.

    “His favorite thing about Vettes? The performance you get for the dollar. We talked about how I’ve wanted one my whole life and finally was able to pull the trigger. He was like “one day, dude, one day”. And that’s the thing. A Ferrari could never make him feel like that. Sure, it’d be cool to see one and he’d probably take a picture of it too. But he could never ever imagine actually owning one. He can realistically dream of owning a Corvette one day. That’s the difference.”

    And that’s one heck of a reminder of why so many people love the Corvette in the first place. Not because it’s the fastest car on the planet, the best handling, or the one built with the most exotic materials. It’s because this is a cool car that your average Joe can save up and buy. And that’s perfectly fine with folks like smithers.

    “It does seem like people have suddenly forgotten that Corvettes have always been priced in a way that made them realistically affordable to common people. There seems to be an expectation that GM has suddenly said ‘to hell with that’ and decided to abandon their current market and make it a car most people won’t be able to afford (that $100k+ range).

    Chances are high that this car will basically be a Corvette with the engine in the middle. And that’s fine. But most people seem to have this idea in their heads that going mid engine means it is has to look like a LaFerrari and cost $150k+. Or, even worse, the hope that it’s a halo car like the Ford GT. But there have been plenty of cars over the years that were both ME and affordable. There is no reason the C8 can’t do the same.”

    C8 Corvette

    It’s an interesting point, for sure. And also a nice reminder that the Corvette has, and hopefully always will be the quintessential American dream car. After all, Chevy has done a heck of a job offering up exotic-level performance at an affordable price for decades. Why stop now?

    The answer to that question, I suppose, is determined by asking why GM felt the need to build a mid-engine Corvette — in order to build something to compete with Porsche, Ferrari and others. The problem in GM’s eyes is that a Corvette is not seen to be as exotic as whatever Porsche and Ferrari are building (in much smaller numbers) despite the current Corvette’s being probably the best performance bargain on the planet. Building a mid-engine Corvette puts GM in the corner of either selling something so expensive that its current and potential future buyers can’t afford it, or building something not exclusive enough to those who would consider buying a Porsche or a Ferrari.

    That’s assuming GM can even competently put this car together. GM’s past performance with non-front-engine cars is not promising. The Chevy Corvair was an unfairly maligned car due to its rear-engine handling, but notice that the Corvair didn’t survive the 1960s. The Pontiac Fiero, like too many GM cars, was technology (mid-engine rear-drive) sent into the marketplace before it was really ready, and by the time Pontiac put in an engine that could move the car, the Fiero was dead.

    As far as the price goes, here is an interesting observation, though I don’t know if it’s accurate:

    Average price of a new car in 1953 = $1,650.
    Corvette price in 1953 = $3,498.
    Average income in 1953 = $3,139

    Average price of a new car in 1962 = $3,125
    Corvette price in 1962 = $4,038
    Average income in 1962 = $4,291

    Average price of a new car in 1970 = $3,542
    Corvette price in 1970 = $6,773
    Average income in 1970 = $6,186

    Average price of a new car in 1980 = $7,000
    Corvette price in 1980 = $14,694
    Average income in 1980 = $12,513

    Average price of a new car in 1990 = $9,437
    Corvette price in 1990 = $31,979
    Corvette ZR-1 price in 1990 = $58,995
    Average income in 1990 = $21,027

    Average price of a new car in 2000 = $24,750
    Corvette price in 2000 = $39,280
    Average income in 2000 = $32,154

    Average car price in 2010 = $27,950
    Corvette price in 2010 = $54,770
    Average income in 2010 = $49,445

    Corvettes have always been well above the average car price. The 1980s saw some of the highest Corvette sales years, and yet the price to income ratio was the most disproportionate. Also, in 1990 despite the car’s price being triple the average income and six times the price of the average car, Chevrolet managed to sell more than 3,000 ZR-1s. Corvette has never been for the average man.

    This is not “average income,” it’s median household income, meaning that 50 percent of U.S. households make more, and 50 percent of U.S. households make less. Based on this comparison, if it’s otherwise accurate, the Corvette has always been priced approximately around the median U.S. household income and about twice the average price of a car.

    The median household income in 2017 was $61,372, according to the U.S. Census. (Which reports that it may not be directly comparable to previous years because different questions were asked to determine that amount, but for our purposes let’s use this number.) The base price for a 2019 Corvette is $55,495. The base price for this Corvette, which besides being mid-engine is likely to have a new V-8 engine and all-wheel drive, will certainly not be $56,000. Reports indicate a six-digit base price is more likely.

    A comment on Foote’s post posited:

    The Ferrari could certainly out do the Corvette in “wow” factor (especially if driven but even if just standing still). But it wouldn’t give the guy the same rush because he knows he will never, ever own one. It’s the attainable part of the Corvette that makes it special to so many people.
    I am skeptical a GM-built mid-engine Corvette can be made “attainable.”

    Sharks with wheels

    Apparently this is Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. (No, I’m not watching.)

    Andy Bolig writes about different kinds of sharks:

    It’s easy to look at something and say whether or not you like it and why, but to create something from nothing that will have lasting, world-wide appeal is a gift given to a rare few. When speaking about Corvettes, there are several names that constantly rise to the surface as undoubtedly having that gift.

    In the late-50s and early 60s, designing a car was laid squarely on the shoulders of those who wielded a pen and paper. Their thoughts and souls flowed upon the canvas, and without any assistance from computers or electronics, they fostered designs that inspired generations. Gentlemen such as Bill Mitchell and Larry Shinoda came together to bear prototypes that would lead Corvette for generations and capture the hearts and minds of enthusiasts to this day.

    Bill Mitchell took over the styling department when Harley Earl retired. At the time, styling made the rules, which put Bill high atop the food chain at GM.

    Two cars that exemplify this are the “Mako Sharks”, a duo of forward-looking vehicles that used technologies of the day to inspire and captivate enthusiasts with their futuristic design and styling. The basis for these cars, of which they both were dutifully named, has its roots in Bill Mitchell’s love for deep sea fishing, and the shark that he reportedly caught while on one such endeavor.

    Bill enjoyed deep-sea fishing and cars he designed had a definite connection to the sport.

    In The Beginning

    Larry Shinoda reported in an interview on more than one occasion how Mr. Mitchell caught a shark and was so enthralled in the color and shape of the animal that he used it as the design basis for the cars. He wanted to create a car that had the same appearance of speed and agility, as well as the ability. Of course, no other platform provided such a solid starting point as Corvette.

    Larry Shinoda worked under Bill Mitchell and was responsible for many of the designs that rolled out of the styling department at GM. He recalls that when the paint team couldn’t match the colors of the shark that Mr. Mitchell had above his desk, they simply “borrowed” the shark and re-painted it to match the car!

    In an interview with Wayne Ellwood, Corvette Designer Larry Shinoda once explained how the Mako Shark came about. The design work for the new-for-1963 Corvette was completed by 1962, and Chevrolet wanted something to help promote the new car. Larry was ordered to do some sketches that would build excitement for the new offering using cues from the new car, as well as taking some styling license with the design. After several designs, the final result was XP-755, the Mako Shark as we know it.

    The first Mako Shark was as much a styling car as it was a driver. Reportedly, Bill Mitchell had as many as 50 cars specially built for his use during his tenure as design chief.

    Even if anyone had seen the new 1963 Sting Ray Corvettes, they hadn’t seen anything like the Mako Shark! It’s pointy nose, flowing lines and a paint scheme that flowed from shark-skin blue to silver underneath were undeniable cues to the feared predator that shared its name.

    Mako Shark II

    Just three years later, Chevrolet churned out the next chapter in their Mako-based Corvettes. There is some confusion surrounding this car, partly due to its transformation as it would adjust to responses that it garnered while travelling the show circuit. In fact, there are three iterations of this stylized icon; the first being a non-powered styling exercise, then a drivable version carrying the same name. Lastly, the car was updated with a revised roof line that featured a mail-slot opening as a rear window and the movable rear louvers were removed. The car was also upgraded with the new ZL-1, all-aluminum 427 engine and was now known as the Manta Ray.

    In its original configuration, the Mako Shark II was a “pusher”, wearing stylized side pipes and unable to move under its own power. It DID make for a great photo though!

    The Mako Shark II was first introduced to the public in 1965, at the New York International Auto Show of that year. As such, it was unmistakably all Bill Mitchell. The “coke-bottle” shape was the brain-child of Mr. Mitchell and reportedly, vexed Corvette’s Chief Engineer, Zora Duntov greatly. That is, until Zora was testing the pre-production 1968 Stingray on GM’s high-speed test track and had a tire failure. Resting the car against the wall at speed until it stopped, the concrete barrier ground the wider wheel housings down until they were even with the narrow waistline of the rest of the car’s body. Reportedly, Zora exited the car and said, “Ah, bulges SAVE Zora!”

    More than simply a styling car, the Mako Shark II encompassed features that wouldn’t be seen on production cars for decades, and some that have yet to be realized. The hidden wipers made it into production quickly on the ’68 Corvette, but items like the adjustable pedals are just making it onto production lines. Other items like the motorized rear louvers never really took hold, and the pop up taillights (in Manta Ray trim), and rear spoiler may have missed their moment, or we just haven’t realized how much we need them – yet. Time will tell.

    In it’s first iteration, the Mako Shark II was not intended to be driven as much as it was a styling exercise to gauge public opinion on various ideas. In this form, the car can be seen with side-pipes akin to those used on several earlier styling cars, such as the World’s Fair ’64 Corvette. As Chevrolet designers gained insight into what the public wanted to see, the car changed to a rear-exiting exhaust, albeit in stylized form.

    Other changes to the car throughout the year included a more standardized round steering wheel that replace the squared-off version it originally had, and the car, originally equipped with a Mark IV (396ci) engine later received the all-aluminum ZL-1. By the time the Mako Shark II made its appearance at the Paris Auto Show in October of ’65, it was a runner.

    Even with the various changes, the Mako Shark cars have proven the lasting, timeless virtue of good design. We would have to look long and hard to find another example of styling cars of that era that have made such an impact or have withstood the test of time.

    Most Corvette fans acknowledge that the C2, inspired by the Mako Shark, was a better car than the C1. Corvette fans have been split on the C3, inspired by Mako Shark II, given that it was bigger outside but smaller inside than the C2 it replaced, and had rather useless storage space. (Not that the C2’s was better, since it was not a hatchback either.)

    I’ve never mentioned this before now, but I once owned a Mako Shark.

    It went as fast as I could push it.

    For those wondering about a birthday present for me …

    How can one story combine two of my favorite things, the Packers (of which I am an owner) and Corvettes (of which I am not)?

    The answer comes from Motor Authority:

    On January 15, 1967, Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr completed 16 of 23 passes for 250 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception as the Packers rolled over the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in the first AFL-NFL World Championship game (which would later become known as Super Bowl I). For his efforts, Starr was named the game’s MVP and was awarded a shiny new 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray convertible. That Corvette is now going up for auction.

    The car is documented with a tank sticker that says “Courtesy Delivery – B. Starr.” It presents with its original and patinated Goodwood Green paint, which was chosen to match the Packers’ home jerseys and is only slightly touched up. Just 48,000 miles show on the odometer and the listing says they are believed to be original.

    According to the listing, Starr owned the car until the 1980s, and eventually it came into the hands of a woman in Wausau, Wisconsin, in a divorce settlement. In 1994, she sold it to Michael Anderson, owner of Thunder Valley Classic Cars of St. Joseph, Minnesota, which specializes in Corvettes. Anderson has several Bloomington Gold restorations under his belt, but instead of restoring the car, which had been in storage for years, he decided to take the body off the frame and clean and recondition the underside.

    Anderson replaced the body mounts, rubber suspension components, U-joints, seals, and bearings. He also installed a new Dewitts radiator, though the original is also included with the auction, overhauled the brake system, and upgraded the calipers with stainless-steel piston sleeves.

    The rest he left as time had treated it.

    Under the hood sits a 300-horsepower, 327-cubic-inch V-8 hooked to a Muncie 4-speed manual transmission. Anderson says the car runs and drives well, and the numbers-matching engine has never been out of the car and retains its original gaskets and paint.

    The Corvette rides on bias-ply Redline tires mounted on Rally wheels, and those tires should be able to lay down two black stripes on the pavement thanks to a 3.36:1 positraction differential.

    The car also features the original black interior, black soft top, and Soft Ray-tinted windshield. Inside, it has a telescoping steering column and an AM/FM radio.

    Head to Indianapolis for the Mecum Auction May 15-20 for your chance to buy this piece of automotive and NFL history.

    This is like the Holy Grail for the Packer/Corvette fan. Starr was the MVP of the first two Super Bowls, the last two of his five NFL titles as the Packers’ quarterback. That places him in Joe Montana/Tom Brady territory in the conversation about the best NFL quarterbacks of all time, because of the only metric that actually counts in the NFL — winning.

    This Corvette isn’t that powerful, with the base V-8, but it has the correct transmission for any Corvette. I like green Corvettes, and it’s the right color anyway for a Packer player or fan. This doesn’t say whether it has power steering or brakes. I’ve driven both a Corvette and a similar car without power brakes, and I can live with that. I’ve also driven a Corvette without power steering and other vehicles that were supposed to have power steering but didn’t. (They’re easier to drive when moving; turns from a stop or slow speed are the hardest.) Driving this is likely to be easier than driving, say, a Corvette with a big block but without power steering.

    In those days the late Sport magazine awarded cars to the Super Bowl MVP. SI.com reports that Starr donated his second MVP Corvette …

    … to be auctioned off for funds to start Rawhide Boys Ranch near New London.

    I was not aware that Starr actually owned a Corvette, which puts him the company of other famous Corvette owners. The story was that Starr had requested a station wagon instead of the Corvette, but that is evidently incorrect. (The wagon substitution request came from Roger Staubach, and the wagon replaced a Dodge Charger, because, he said, “We had three kids. What was I going to do with a Dodge Charger?” The Charger had seating for four, but on the other hand the Corvette had seating for two, two fewer than the number of kids in the Starr household.)

    Starr tends to get a bit underrated for his contribution to the Glory Days Packers perhaps because he didn’t throw for a bazillion yards in the days where the game was considerably different from now. But remember that Starr called all the plays in those days, including the improvised quarterback sneak that won the Ice Bowl. Starr was the 1966 NFL MVP. Starr was 9–1 as a starting quarterback in the postseason and had the best postseason passer rating in NFL history. Not even Montana or Brady can say that.

    (Aaron Rodgers, by the way, got a Chevy Camaro for being the Super Bowl XLV MVP.)

    The Packers’ two Super Bowl teams were the last two Glory Days champions, and the Packers were not as run-dominated as they did in the early Glory Days, because by the Super Bowls running backs Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung were at the end of their careers. No Starr, no Super Bowls.

    Starr was also the general manager/coach of the Packers. That didn’t go so well, although he did get them into as many playoff berths as his predecessor, Dan “Lawrence Welk Trade” Devine, and more than his successors, Forrest Gregg and Lindy Infante (zero each). I’ve written before here about the mess he inherited and how he really shouldn’t have been GM/coach because no one should be GM/coach anymore. Packer fans clearly look at Starr more as the great quarterback he was than as the coach he became.

    If I somehow got this car, I would do three things with it — (1) replace the bias-ply tires with radials (and find someone who manufactures red-stripe radials), (2) get it to wherever Starr now lives to meet him (I was 2 years old when the Packers won Super Bowl II, so by the time I knew the Packers they were quite bad, which made the Glory Days seem unlikely to have occurred) and show off the car, and then (3) drive it.

    Let’s see. Mega Millions is $45 million tonight, and Powerball is $257 million Saturday night …