Mid-Engine Corvette Could Cure a Lasting Ill
Let me start by saying this, I’ve always been a huge fan of the Corvette.
As I’ve stated here on Corvette Forum before, I grew up dreaming of one day owning a ‘Vette, ripping out pictures of the car from magazines and saving them. And while I’ve never been fortunate enough to own a Corvette, I’ve maintained a deep admiration for the car most of my adult life.
Even before the introduction of the seventh-gen Corvette, I would argue that for the money, the C6 was one, if not “the” best sports cars on the market. Of course, there have always been a few naysayers who’d contest the idea. But I’ve come to learn that in most cases, those naysayers either hadn’t driven a Corvette or had issues with the car’s interior, something that even the Chevy admits was a major problem.
The debut of the C7, however, addressed those issues and much more, launching what is arguably one of the most impressive all-around General Motors cars to date. Upon release, I wrote about it extensively here at Corvette Forum, and for a number of other outlets as a contributor. In fact, in one post for a men’s lifestyle site, I even wrote about how some of the top valet spots in Hollywood raved about the C7, which was quite the shift from previous models.
The launch of the 650-horsepower Z06 made the C7 even more appealing. And while I actually have not had a chance to drive the 2017 Corvette Grand Sport, it appears (from all the reviews on the car) that it could very well be the best of all the C7 variants. And yet, it’s clear that the Corvette still hasn’t been able to shake its stigma as the sports car for the man going through a mid-life crisis, something I firmly think a mid-engine model would help address.
‘GREAT’ ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH
Now, I’m sure what some folks are probably thinking: why does everybody always talk about the age of Corvette buyers, especially when the average age of all new car buyers is about 51? Well, namely because image really is everything, especially in the world of sports cars. And while the C7 certainly has improved the Corvette’s appeal with younger buyers who tend to set the standard on “what’s cool,” you do find yourself wondering for how long? In fact, when driving in Los Angeles, you get the sense that the “old man” stigma that has haunted the Corvette has already started to catch up with the C7.
But to get a better first-hand take on the C7’s appeal among a younger demo, we teamed up with a lifestyle consultant to randomly poll some people via text (with no known attachment to the car world) to see what they thought about the Corvette. The specifics in the initial message was this: text me the first thing that comes to mind when you think Corvette. Below are some of the responses:
“Stingray. American. Prince. Midlife Crisis.” – Male, California
“I still relate it to old people, honestly. I see it more as a mid –(life) crisis car that got revamped to please newer old people.” – Male, California
“Eh, I don’t like corvettes lol I think it’s more of a girl car, kinda small and cutesy, it doesn’t’ feel like a man’s muscle car to me.” – Female, New York
“Cool, American sports car.” – Male, Michigan
“Rich, American old…man car, the new ones are kinda cool tho.” – Female, California
Of course, this study would never hold up to the scrutiny of a certified research study. Much less should it serve as grounds for making a final prognosis on the C7. But it does provide a pretty interesting take on the American sports car from some people under 50.
On the other hand, when some of those same people were sent the rendering of Corvette Forum’s mid-engine C8 in a text and asked what’s the first thing that comes to mind if this was the next generation Corvette, this was the response:
“Epic”- Male, California
“I might as well get a Lambo…cause that’s all it looks like. But…I’m sure PLENTY of people will get it so it.” – Male, California
“I actually kinda like that, looks cool, but reminds me of a Lambo..sorta.” – Female, New York
“Unbelievable.” – Male, Michigan
“It looks like a Ferrari and I want it now.” – Female, California
BOTTOM LINE, GM NEEDS A TRUE SUPERCAR
Interesting, right? Although, relying on random texts when deciding on whether or not to build a car is kind of like sifting through Facebook posts for ideas on how to construct a house. Making a major decision on something as historic and successful as the Corvette requires a lot more forethought than a few opinions shared via a cell phone.
It’s also important to keep in mind that only a small percentage of people that fall in a “younger demo” could actually afford a mid-engine Corvette that insiders say could cost up to $150,000. But there’s no denying that the idea drastically changes the perception of the nameplate.
Not to mention the fact that as car companies push to gain more cachet on a global level, a hot-looking mid-engine car could do wonders for General Motors. The overwhelming response to the new Ford GT is proof of that, as is the buzz around reports that BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz are planning to develop new mid-engine supercars as well.
Of course, shifting from a $55,000 or so front-engine Corvette to a more exclusive $150,000 mid-engine model, won’t be an easy to swallow, especially for some who might now not be able to afford the car. That certainly would add credence to reports that GM plans to offer the C7 alongside the mid-engine model for a while. But it’s also important to remember that anything aimed at changing something as monumental as the Corvette, is bound to come with some pain.
Chime in with your thoughts on the forum. >>
Amos Arauz, an independent marketing and lifestyle specialist, contributed to this report.