Making Sense of EX, MVB, CTF, & SORP
Yes, Virginia, there really are two 2020 Corvette VIN #00001 Stingrays…and a third is coming! But we’ll talk about a little later into our deep dive into the 2020 Corvette production process.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve read a variety of social media discussions related to the 2020 Corvettes we’ve seen so far. Initially seen only in random spy photos, 2020 Corvettes have now been seen in reviews by various news outlets, on car haulers headed out of the Corvette Plant in Bowling Green, on streets and highways across the U.S.A., in attendance at car events like Cars and Coffee, in GM displays at events like Corvettes at Carlisle and the 25th Anniversary Celebration at the National Corvette Museum, at Barrett Jackson, and most recently, in Houston for the World Series MVP presentation. Are some of these Corvette prototypes? Are they pre-production? What about “sellable units?” Is VIN #00001 already built and is it the same VIN #00001 that Barrett Jackson will auction off to the highest bidder in January? These and more are the questions that keep popping up and I want to help answer some of those questions once and for all.
The first step to understanding all of this is to understand what abbreviations like EX, MVB, CTF, and SORP mean and how they relate to the production process, so let’s start there.
2020 Corvette MVBs (Manufacturing Validation Builds) have been on the streets for quite some time. The earliest of these are the cars that carry the EX (Experimental) VINs. These include the camouflage covered cars, 7.18.19 Reveal cars, and Dealer Tour cars. There are well over 100 of these on the roads and their job is to help validate the final engineering and production processes. While the first of these were built by hand in Detroit, most were built on the assembly line at the Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green.
An MVB EX C8 has a VIN that looks like this: 1G1Y82D49L50095EX. The last seven digits are what we are going to focus on in this article (digits 11 through 17). The eleventh digit represents the final assembly plant location, with 5 representing Bowling Green. All of the VINs we discuss in this article will have a 5 in the eleventh digit location. Digits 12 through 17 reveal the production sequence number. For the MVB EX VIN cars, the last two digits are EX. These cars can only be legally operated on the road as experimental cars and once their experimental use is complete, they are typically destroyed.
The first MVB EX VIN C8 that the plant built, a black Stingray, was assembled by hand sometime in 2018 during a three-week slow build, according to Plant Manager Kai Spande’s presentation at the National Corvette Museum’s 25th Anniversary Celebration in August. Subsequent MVB EX VIN C8s have all been built alongside 2019 Corvettes on the same assembly line. “We’re using the same line. We produce both cars, most days. We’re in full production of C7 and we interject the new cars into the line.” Spande said. The plant’s first hand-built C8 took approximately 11,700 total man-hours to build. The first line-built C8 was built sometime around the fall of 2018 and took approximately 750 total man-hours. By the end of August 2019, the line-built cars were being assembled in 189 total man-hours.
There are a couple of interesting side notes related to the first line assembled MVB EX VIN C8. It was sent down the line without another car on either end and with additional employees involved in the assembly through the entire build. The body panels of this C8 were pre-covered with camo, but the front fascia was exposed, revealing that this Stingray was also black. Tadge Jeuchter, Executive Chief Engineer-Corvette, started the car on the line with Kai Spande in the passenger seat and drove the car off the line.
The next step in the pre-production process is the assembly of a fleet of CTF (Captured Test Fleet) vehicles and is the second stage of the pre-production MVB process. The CTF VINs are standard VINs that drop the EX designation. As such, CTFs can be sold to the public after they have been used by GM for their various purposes. Here is an example of a 2020 Corvette CTF VIN: 1G1Y82D42L5000067. Notice that the eleventh digit is still a 5 (plant location) and is followed by the six-digit production sequence number. The first of these were built on the assembly line along with 2019 C7 production units and Corvette enthusiasts attending the NCM’s 25th Anniversary event were among the first to see CTF VIN 5000011 and VIN 5000013.
According to Kai Spande’s NCM presentation, CTF VIN 5000001 was built just a few weeks before the 25th Anniversary Celebration at the end of August. We estimate that it came off the line right around the first of August, 2019. This 3LT Arctic White Coupe with Two-Tone Blue Interior was birthed to much fanfare at the plant with a wide variety of GM VIPs present for the historic event. VIN 5000001 has since appeared at several events and will eventually reside in the General Motors Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan. It is important to note that this is NOT the VIN 0001 that will be auctioned at Barrett Jackson in January 2020.
Looking back at the introduction of the 7th Generation Corvette, approximately 500 2014 CTF Stingrays were built prior to the start of regular production. VIN 5000443 is one of the higher 2014 CTF VINs that we’ve seen listed for sale in the past. Again, these are pre-production, sellable, CTF units. We estimate that GM intends to build 500 2020 CTF Stingrays as well and had built at least 60 of these prior to the strike. Corvette leadership and GM execs have the privilege of driving CTF Stingrays over the coming months. We also expect a number of these Corvettes to be sent to Spring Mountain Motor Resort for the upcoming dealer training program. Others may be made available to the NCM Motorsports Park and other facilities.
Following the strike, three weeks of 2019 Corvette production remained to be completed. A few additional 2020 CTFs will likely be built during that time as well. It has been reported that following the end of C7 production, the plant will undergo a three-week retooling to prepare for C8 production. At the time of this article’s publishing, the first week of C8 production remains unclear. However, there will still be several weeks of 2020 CTF Stingray production before regular production begins. The Corvette Plant will use this opportunity to methodically proceed through the ramp-up process so that the plant is at full operational speed once regular production begins.
So, what happens to the 500 or so 2020 CTFs once they have been used for their various purposes? Most will be sent to dealer auctions and will end up on dealership lots across the country. If you’re looking for a rare 2020 Corvette, these would likely be among the rarest since there will only be around 500 of this VIN series built.
We’ve now made it through the first two VIN 0001 2020 Corvettes. VIN 50001EX and VIN 5000001. There’s one more 2020 Corvette Stingray VIN 0001 that remains to be built. In 2014, production Corvette Stingrays were assigned VIN 5100000 series numbers. 2014 Premier Edition Coupes were assigned VIN 5300000 series numbers while 2014 Premier Edition Convertibles were assigned VIN 5400000 series numbers. Notice the series digit following the 5, or plant location digit. In 2014, there were three VIN 0001 production Stingrays – VIN 5100001 (Stingray), VIN 5300001 (Premier Edition Stingray Coupe), VIN 5400001 (Premier Edition Stingray Convertible).
It is expected that GM will use the 5100000 series for 2020 regular production Stingrays, making VIN 5100001 the very first production 2020 Corvette Stingray and our third 2020 VIN 0001 Corvette Stingray. This is the VIN 0001 that will be auctioned at Barrett Jackson in January. If I’m betting, it will be black, but that still remains to be seen.
And that leads us to our final acronym…SORP. This is the one that all of us are anxiously awaiting, particularly those with a 2020 Corvette order at 3000 status. What is SORP. It’s the Start Of Regular Production…and that date should be announced soon!
For more on the build process of the C8 Corvettes, check out Kai Spande’s video presentation from the NCM 25th Anniversary Celebration
[VIDEO] Corvette Assembly Plant Update with Kai Spande from the NCM 25th Anniversary
[PICS] The Corvette Assembly Plant Is Now Building Saleable C8 Corvette Stingrays
Ordering a 2020 Corvette? Here’s What You Need to Know