Since it debuted in 1953, the Chevrolet Corvette has been carving out a place for itself in the highly competitive sports car market. This process was slow at first and had to endure some hiccups along the way but America’s Sports Car has become a staple of the industry and, in North America, it could easily be argued that the ‘Vette is THE most important player in the game of modern sports car manufacturing.
Tadge Juechter and the rest of the team that captured the world’s imagination with their stunning new mid-engine eighth-generation Corvette are confident that the car fills the same piece of the market that its front-engine predecessors have for seven generations. Not only that, but they are hopeful that their new baby will be able to attract all-new customers into Chevrolet showrooms and grow GM’s already-impressive share of the sports car market.
Judging by the public’s reaction to the newest Plastic Fantastic, we would have to agree with this outlook but nothing can be said for certain and with such drastic change afoot, there is always a chance that the C8 will appeal to a completely different demographic than Corvettes of old. This scenario would leave a large power vacuum in the market that could be exploited by a cunning car manufacturer. Below are some possibilities to keep an eye out for if you already miss the days of front-engine, manual transmission Corvettes.
If the C8 proves to be something entirely different to customers than the C7 was and enough possible patrons are holding out; GM would be wise to attempt to hold on to clients that are pining for a new take on the classic Corvette formula. Here are the cars that could assist them in re-capturing the old ‘Vette’s flock:
1. A New Front-Engine Corvette
There has been a ton of speculation in recent years about General Motors making Corvette its own brand. We really like the idea; more ‘Vette variants can’t possibly be a bad thing! This would be the easiest way for anyone to capitalize on the customers that feel alienated by the C8’s new layout. A fresh front-engine design on an updated C7 chassis with carry-over engines from the mid-engine version wouldn’t be overly expensive for GM to produce and the one-two punch that the two would create side-by-side on the showroom floor couldn’t be matched by anyone outside of Ferrari. We can see the magazine covers now; “It’s Back!!!”
2. A Completely Revamped 7th Gen. Camaro
The 6th Generation Camaro has been nearly universally praised as an outstanding driver’s car but while GM went all-in on the C8’s design, the conservative approach they took when transitioning from the 5th Gen. Camaro in 2016 has led to declining sales and rumors of the impending demise of Chevy’s pony car. To save the Camaro, its parent company needs to apply the same fervor to a 7th generation model that they did with the new Stingray. Such a vehicle would need to shrink in size, lose its nearly-useless back seats, become V8 only, and bring a game-changing design to the table. We would absolutely buy one! If the Camaro is to meet its end, though, we hope it goes out with a C8 Z06 sourced 5.5L DOHC FPC screamer of a Z/28!
3. A Resurrected XLR
The ‘Vette isn’t the only car that has passed through the lines at the Bowling Green Assembly plant. From 2004-09, Cadillac’s hard-top convertible XLR was built alongside Corvettes. To bring back the XLR, GM would just have to follow the steps laid out for a new FE ‘Vette in option 1 and mix in some of the style from Cadillac’s numerous stunning concept cars over the years. It could be a winner as long as it either stays more in line with sports car values instead of trying to copy the Mercedes SL Class again or becomes the GT of the General’s stable, allowing the C8 to become even more of a hard-edged sports car.
4. A Modern GNX
Stick with us on this one! It obviously wouldn’t really be a direct replacement for the C7 but we would love to see this happen in conjunction with either “option 1, option 2, or both.” If a new front-engine Corvette and/or a revamped, 2-seat Camaro were to be added into the mix (or if the Camaro is axed all-together), there would be room in the portfolio for a new GNX. Even if none of the above speculations come to pass, Buick showrooms are in dire need of some excitement. Most enthusiasts would rather see a blacked-out Grand National Xperimental hit the streets than a turbocharged V6 Camaro or Cadillac ATS (CT4) V. A turbocharged six-cylinder is never going to be accepted as cool in any other GM product (excepting a reborn Syclone/Typhoon) but as it is part of the GN heritage, we believe it has the potential to be a hit at the right price-point while also saving our proposed new Camaro from the shame of having lower-tier, non-V8 models. Just like in the days of old; this could create a hierarchy of models for young people to aspire to as they move up the ranks of their jobs. Instead of the old trajectory of Chevy to Pontiac to Buick to Cadillac, enthusiasts of today could start in a GNX and move up to a Camaro on their way to the Mid-Engine Corvette when they reach their peak earning years.
If GM doesn’t move fast and the market does prove that it still has a hunger for sporty, front-engine, American performance, we could see life-long Corvette owners migrating elsewhere; starting with:
“The Dodge Boys” would love to get their hands on the ‘Vette’s huge slice of the performance car pie. They might have the perfect way to do it too if they brought back…
1. Nacho Fries. Sorry about that, we meant, the Viper
The Viper has been killed off and brought back more times than Taco Bell’s famous disappearing fries seasoned in Mexican spices but this might be its chance to really muscle in on enemy territory. A redesigned V10 brute would be the perfect antithesis of the new Corvette and could claim alienated Z06/ZR1 owners for the Pentastar.
2. Another “Snake-Themed” two-seat sports car
We are of the opinion that if it doesn’t have a V10, it isn’t a Viper. There have been rumors of a resurrected snake with Hellcat (or similar) power. If Dodge does put any kind of V8 in an upcoming sports/supercar, we hope it calls it something else. Perhaps, they could dust off the “Copperhead” moniker from their 1997 concept car. There are a lot of cool, unused snake names out there and if they draw a blank, a quick viewing of Kill Bill could provide plenty of inspiration.
“America’s Favorite Brand” could also get in on the action a couple of different ways.
1. A Thunderbird
This might be a good chance for Ford to make amends for 2002-2005’s soft, retro-themed 11th Generation ‘Bird. They already have a nice collection of V8 engines (Coyote, Voodoo and Predator), not to mention a 647 HP EcoBoost V6 that could go into a range of sports cars that sit above the Mustang in the Blue Oval’s hierarchy. If a new Thunderbird were to come to market, 2021+ Ford showrooms could more closely resemble those of 2019 Chevrolet than future Chevy showrooms do.
2. An Overhauled Mustang
With the long-awaited arrival of the S550 GT500, there is a high chance that Ford Performance, like the Corvette team, has maxed out the capabilities of their car’s current layout. Similar to the Camaro post above, shrinking the vehicle overall and getting rid of the back seats (which they already do in the GT350R and GT500 with the CFTP) could bump the ‘Stang up to a level Ford has only dreamed of up to this point.
Foreign competition could also get in on the action but it is unlikely that they could/would want to at a competitive price point. A couple to keep an eye on anyway are:
1. A new Porsche 928
There are a lot of compelling renders of this car out there, google it! A sportier Panamera coupe is all but guaranteed to be an outstanding vehicle.
2. A more-entry level AMG GT
Mercedes-AMG’s front-engine sports car, which is rumored to get a new Turbo-6 entry variant. We (and the rest of the world) would much rather see a new naturally aspirated V8 base car under the top-end twin-turbo V8 models.
3. Many others
A revamped Jaguar F-Type could move in to claim some former ‘Vette customers, as could an entry Aston Martin V8 Vantage (which could accompany the previously mentioned AMG GT, which already supplies Aston with their V8s).
The void left by the front-engine Corvette could actually be filled by a number of custom coachbuilders who utilize the C7 Corvette as a starting point for their own designs. The featured image at the top of the page shows the C7-based “Throwback” model from Equus Automotive that is built on a C7 Chassis.
We could go on and on, some company might even step up and surprise the whole industry but listed here are the most likely candidates; brands that have enough cachet to possibly lure fans of a nameplate as storied as the Corvette. Time will tell what the market decides about the C8 and we are inclined to agree with Tadge and Co. about the security of the ‘Vette’s market share but the wide-reaching ramifications of their choice to go mid-engine is an interesting thing to ponder.