Welcome to Quick Shifts. Quick Shifts is a content feature here at CorvetteBlogger featuring links to Corvette and automotive-related stories of interest. The content that we have hand-selected for you this week includes a new C8 Review, more on the upcoming Z06, a possible Tahoe spy shot, who killed the Blackwing, a new Mach 1 and AMG E63, market shortages, and the life of a C5.
“The Only Corvette That Matters” is where we will begin this weekend. Hagerty frontman, Jack Baruth recently spent some time piloting a non-Z51 2020 Corvette 2LT. Without much in the way of optional tech and go-fast goodies, it doesn’t initially seem like an overly interesting way to spec a C8 but this car’s lack of “street cred” is exactly why Jack thrusts extra importance upon it. Be sure to check out the full review for yourself and if you have a mid-engine Corvette on the way and didn’t tick the box marked “Z51,” get your device ready because this excellent piece comes with a full-gallery of wallpaper-worthy photography, courtesy of Andrew Trahan.
This week’s big Corvette news was the glorious return of the camouflaged C8 Z06 mules. We first covered the sighting here and got an encore performance that included a peek at the center-mount exhaust, which was rumored just last week, here. Autoevolution featured a video that was shot from the opposite side of the convoy from our footage and it seems to show camo-clad C8s with two distinct exhaust positions; one at the corners, like the Stingray’s, and the more newsworthy return of the C5-7 center-exit setup.
AE speculates that these are two separate C8 variants (Z06 AND ZR1) being tested alongside each other. We aren’t too sure about that but it is interesting to think about!
While we are on the topic of the new exhaust position and the funky mixed pipe sizes, we believe that it could actually be a pretty similar look to what we will see on the production version. The Corvette team could possibly be taking a page directly out of their favorite benchmark, the Ferrari 458 Italia’s book. When the Italia debuted in 2010, it paid homage to the legendary F40 by adapting its three-exhaust tip look. Much like the familiar valved exhaust seen on the past two generations of America’s sports car, the 458 had two modes. From idle up until 3,000 on the tack, the smaller-diameter center pipe ousted all of 4.5L V8’s fumes but beyond 3k, those gasses exited through the two larger, outside pipes for a louder, more exotic sound.
Speaking of our spy shots of the Z06 Convoy, we think we got a special two for one special because in the background of picture #19, we caught a camouflaged fifth-gen Tahoe. The camo strikes us as somewhat odd as the 2021s have already had a full reveal. This mysterious truck might not amount to anything or, perhaps, we caught a new member of the Tahoe family hiding in the shot. Our biggest hope is that it signals GM’s long-awaited return to the performance SUV market that they created with the GMC Typhoon, bring on the LT powered Jeep Trackhawk fighters!
On that note, our friends at Road & Track did a great investigation of what went wrong for GM’s ill-fated LTA “Blackwing” V8 this week. Be sure to give this one a read, it is one of the best clips of the week!
The automotive industry is finally waking up from a month’s long slumber! Friends, this week had reveals, debuts, disclosures, unveilings, and intrigue, starting off with a new Mustang that will slide into the space previously occupied by the Bullitt. The Mach 1 officially returns for 2021 with a 480 HP version of the 5 Liter Coyote V8 and a slew of aerodynamic upgrades borrowed from the top-tier Shelby models. Car and Driver calls it “the perfect blend of Shelby and McQueen.” We think the vehicle they describe would just be a GT350R painted Highland Green, but it does seem like a nice car that makes us wish GM would give some more love to the Corvette’s little brother. While Ford and FCA continually tweak, make special editions, add power to, and bestow new and classic colors upon their pony cars, the Camaro has been left on the vine to die while resting on its best-in-class driving dynamics. If rumors of the Camaro not spawning another generation (or, who knows?) prove to be true, here’s hoping that the General sends it out with a bang. They can keep the fast SUVs that we mentioned earlier, what we really want is a three-tier send-off to the sixth-generation Camaro that includes an upgraded ZL1 embued with LT5 power, a 427/570 IROC-Z, and a final run of Z/28s with the C8Z’s glorious, high-revving LT6; all instant classics that the nameplate deserves before being sent out to pasture.
As a gearhead and a father of two, my fantasy daily driver is the AMG E63 Wagon. My only complaint about the most recent edition was that it just wasn’t that good looking but after a look across the showroom at the halo AMG GT-R (now available sans top) and a quick rhinoplasty, it is perfect! Check it out here, and see how it compares to the M5 Competition which was also lightly updated this week, here.
Finally, we would like to point out a massive shortage of recent desirable Corvettes (and similar) currently afflicting the used car market. Saved Cars.com and Autotrader searches turned up just six manual transmission 2019 ZR1s (three newly listed), two updated (’17+) manual Z07s, 17 C6 ZR1s, another 17 C6 Z06s with a possibility of their own Z07 package, only four of that car’s successor/engine partner, the ’14-’15 Camaro Z/28, and surprisingly, only 22 of the still in production, ZL1-1LE. If you are looking to unload any of these vehicles to make room for a new, mid-engine example of the plastic fantastic, now might be a great time to test the waters as used prices have largely rebounded from the “Corona-dip” and newcomers have been selling quickly.
In this week’s first gear, Mr. Baruth may have struck the curiosity chord with some of our more methodical readers when he mentioned the lone Corvette in his personal car history. The car in question was a first-year C5 and it has an interesting and very well documented saga of its own that we thought you would enjoy.
This C5 trilogy starts off in the summer of 2016 when Jack, who earned a living as a driving instructor and Road & Track columnist at the time, had to have what he calls “the talk” with a budding performance driver who just so happens to be his wife, simply known online as “Danger Girl.” This talk is one that he has with many of his students when they get tired of living in a constant state of having their well-driven Miata passed on track days. In a move that will surprise no one in our little corner of the internet, he spends the rest of the piece explaining that she should get the best track day hero for the money, period, a C5 Z06. Read the full write-up here, and if you already own a C5Z, start taking notes once you see an ’04 Commemorative Edition. That’s the point when Jack starts to go in-depth about how to make the LS6 bargain “fry all of the bacon out there” (he is talking about beating the other cars on the track with you. Unfortunately, having a C5 Z06 won’t gain you access to mass quantities of perfectly cooked bacon).
The Empire Strikes Back of this series is told by another one of your author’s favorite auto-journos, Matt Farah of /Drive on NBC Sports and the Smoking Tire. Here, Farah chronicles his 20 years of 1997 Corvette ownership which began on his eighteenth birthday, less than 12 hours after gaining access to his Bar Mitzva savings account. His humorous retelling features gems like “The C5 was perfectly timed to take a big ol’ American dump right on the hood of the E36 M3” and “…scattering my cars about Los Angeles like an elephant farting on a dandelion.” It all culminates in his parting with the car that signified 32,000 miles of his youth to someone looking for “something SHE can take to the track” (emphasis, mine).
Wouldn’t you know it? Farah’s buyer was none other than Danger Girl, herself! Our little C5 series wraps-up with Jack driving his wife’s ‘Vette to NCM Motorsports Park to see how well someone on a budget could do on track with the high-dollar metal that R&T assembled for the 2018 edition of Performance Car of the Year. In another superb read, peppered with professional tips and thought processes on how to make your C5 even more of a terror on the track, Jack reveals that his C5 wasn’t the car responsible for the slowest time at the event! The C5 continues to make people “without rich uncles,” feel great about the amount of car that could be had for $20 grand! Be sure to polish off the final article right here.
If you are curious about what happened to the C5 at the center of this saga; Jack and DG moved on from the Torch Red coupe in 2018, after amassing another 7k miles. 22 years and nearly 40k miles after a young Matt Farah bought the car new from site sponsor, Kerbeck Chevrolet, the famous C5 sold on Bring a Trailer, still retaining more than 50% of its original MSRP!
The disappointing car that Matt replaced his beloved C5 with? It also sold in a BaT auction in 2018 (this time for charity). As for our human protagonists, both continue to put out some of the best automotive content on the web; Corvette, or otherwise.
After years of casting his PCOTY vote for visceral American cars like the Viper ACR or Camaro ZL1-1LE, Jack finally got his way and had a large hand in the 2019 ZR1’s PCOTY win (scroll to the grand finale for his part). As you probably surmised from first gear, he is now a honcho over at Hagerty Media, which has become one of the net’s finest car sites and a staple of our weekly sharing of all things Corvette.
Matt’s LA car storage brainchild, mentioned in part II above is now becoming a reality and he continues to push various pieces of vehicular entertainment across the internet and television. You can watch his C8 “One Take” here.
Previous Quick Shifts:
C8 vs Shelby GT500, C8 Markups, Buy Your Own Racetrack, C8 Z06 Rumors, Tesla Domination, and More!
C8 Style with Brett Golliff, C3/C6 Buyers Guides, Jordan Taylor, GM Corporate Espionage, and more!
C8 Review, LS Swap, Business Case, British ZR-1 Sedan, 2010 Grand Sport Reveal, and more!