New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

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Thread: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

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    New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    The Wall Street Journal
    July 17, 2019

    GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    Robert Hively has owned six Corvettes. He has lived through numerous changes to the famed sports car’s design over the decades. But he can’t roll with General Motors Co.’s latest plan. It is moving the engine from under the hood to the middle of the car.

    GM hopes this will bring the Corvette closer to exotic supercars in Europe such as the Lamborghini and Ferrari. An industry expert says it should appeal to younger drivers. Plenty of Corvette fans are giddy over the move, one that has been buzzed about in “Vette” circles for decades.

    But Mr. Hively? “I am to- tally, completely and unequivocally not interested in a mid-engine, European-copycat GM sports car,” said the 61-year-old Florida retiree. “I refuse to call it a Corvette.”

    Few cars have inspired the fan fervor built by the Corvette in its 66-year history. With its long, broad hood, low-slung silhouette and growling V-8, the Vette has become a pop-culture icon and a beacon for GM’s Chevrolet brand. It has spawned hundreds of Corvette clubs and been name-dropped in countless songs, including Prince’s 1982 hit “Little Red Corvette.”

    This week GM will unveil the Corvette’s most radical redesign ever when the switch to a midsection engine gives it a starkly different look. Camouflaged prototypes show a short hood and prodigious haunches to accommodate air vents to cool the engine. GM wants its most recognizable nameplate to evolve to attract a fresh crop of buyers.

    “Finally!” MotorTrend magazine said. Sports-car aficionados say moving the engine to behind the cockpit will create a better-balanced car with more precise handling.

    To Frank Goodman, though, the engine switch will completely change the Corvette’s character. “I just don’t like the look of a short front end,” said Mr. Goodman, a 70-year-old retired accountant from New Jersey who has owned three Corvettes dating back to 1968. “From the driver’s seat, the view is akin to driving a bus.”

    In the Corvette case, some worry the new model won’t be offered with a manual transmission. Others wonder if GM will increase the sticker price closer to other mid-engine sports cars. GM wouldn’t discuss those specifics ahead of the unveiling.

    Then there are the practical concerns, such as where to put the golf clubs on the redesigned car. Mid-engine cars typically don’t have a rear hatch or trunk, just a small cargo hold in the front, often called a “frunk.”

    Tom Peters, who has led the exterior design on the past three Corvettes, knows how sensitive fans can be about adjustments. He recalls when Chevy in 2004 had the audacity to change the pop-up headlamps to, well, normal ones.

    “I got a lot of hate mail,” Mr. Peters said. “We would go to these Corvette events and people wanted to get physical with me.”

    GM designers tested traditionalists’ patience again in 2013 with trapezoidal taillights rather than the familiar round ones. There were cries of blasphemy.

    Car historian Jerry Burton sees Corvette’s overhaul going over well with the younger drivers Chevy is courting. “These later generations are used to playing videogames with Lamborghinis and exotic-looking cars,” said Mr. Burton, who has written three Corvette books and does creative work for Chevy’s ad agency. “Corvette had to make this change to stay part of the conversation.”

    The Corvette is just a sliver of business for GM. The company sells around 35,000 Corvettes in a good year, less than the big pickups it sells in three weeks. But sports cars stoke excitement for employees, dealers and customers, Mr. Burton said.

    Mr. Peters concedes that fan backlashes can be unsettling. But “I have no question whatsoever this dramatic configuration change will be successful,” said the designer, who retired this spring.

    At a Corvette Club of America meeting in suburban Baltimore, members were generally enthusiastic about the new engine setup, with some distinct holdouts.

    Art Bell, who has owned nine Vettes since 1986, expects we will see a faster and more nimble car. “It’s new. It’s now,” said Mr. Bell, 77, adding he is No. 1 on the waiting list at a dealership.

    Kirk Ferguson, who has owned 12 Corvettes, said he is interested in only one thing— how it drives. “Looks are only skin deep,” he said.

    College student Devin Streight is the type of young enthusiast Chevy wants to attract. But Mr. Streight grew up around his father’s 1969 Corvette, and he loves older models’ heritage.

    The news that Corvette would move to a mid-engine layout, the 19-year-old said, was like “a punch in the gut.”

    He said prototypes he has seen online look more like a Ferrari. “It doesn’t look like that typical Corvette,” Mr. Streight said.

    “And no manual? That would kill me.”







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    Re: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    “And no manual? That would kill me.”
    Amen brother...

    Should be a fun night - looking forward to what General Motors has to show us.










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    Re: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    It's time for a nap I guess.

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    Re: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    I definitely knew this was going to cause some heartache with the Corvette loyal. Hopefully GM did their research on this, don't want to burn much of your fanbase going after a crowd that probably doesn't want to be seen with a pushrod V8, no matter where it's mounted.

    Corvette was always cool because it did hang with the exotics while being a front engine, pushrod V8. I guess all I have to say, is that if they're making this transition, it better annihilate the exotics on the top level trims. If we're only going to see a marginal increase in actual performance tonight, I don't know what to say. They better do it right.
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    Re: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    I'm sure they'll all get over it, I think they were at a point where they couldn't really go any further w/ the front engine layout. Look at the ZR1, the engineers had to slap all kinds of spoilers, diveplanes, etc to it and it still can't put all the power down safely. The shift to ME should definitely help w/ High HP drivability.
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    Re: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    Congratulations GM, C8 Corvette looks like a fantastic vehicle, very exciting....
    but has it just left its traditional Corvette customer base thinking WTF?

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    Re: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    Quote Originally Posted by sdotjeezy View Post
    I'm sure they'll all get over it, I think they were at a point where they couldn't really go any further w/ the front engine layout. Look at the ZR1, the engineers had to slap all kinds of spoilers, diveplanes, etc to it and it still can't put all the power down safely. The shift to ME should definitely help w/ High HP drivability.
    We'll see how far ahead they thought this through. I'd rather have a top of the field front engine sports car, over a bottom of the field mid-engined car. If they get to around middle of the pack, then I think it will be a good move. I don't think that there are that many people that care about chasing the exotics, as most Corvettes I see are at the Scottsdale Pavillions (AZ's biggest & nation's longest running cruise night), and cars and coffees and such. There's not many places for people to actually chase down Ferrari's and Lamborghinis.
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    Re: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    Quote Originally Posted by jpd80 View Post
    Congratulations GM, C8 Corvette looks like a fantastic vehicle, very exciting....
    but has it just left its traditional Corvette customer base thinking WTF?
    Correct me if i'm wrong but isnt the average age of corvette owners in their 60's?

    And getting older too

    It's not a smart business decision to keep chasing your traditional owners when they are in retirement homes within the next decade

    GM should be chasing the 35-50 year old demographic

    Guys with money and still young enough to enjoy it and perhaps buy more than 1 before they kick the bucket
    Who the hell approved this abomination? Hidden Content

    I bet it was some dumbarse in Detroit Hidden Content

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    Re: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    Quote Originally Posted by jpd80 View Post
    Congratulations GM, C8 Corvette looks like a fantastic vehicle, very exciting....
    but has it just left its traditional Corvette customer base thinking WTF?
    They're a bunch of old farts anyway.
    It's going to be the best Corvette ever and will bring new customers to GM.
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    Re: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    Quote Originally Posted by VS Ute 5Litre View Post
    Correct me if i'm wrong but isnt the average age of corvette owners in their 60's?

    And getting older too

    It's not a smart business decision to keep chasing your traditional owners when they are in retirement homes within the next decade

    GM should be chasing the 35-50 year old demographic

    Guys with money and still young enough to enjoy it and perhaps buy more than 1 before they kick the bucket
    The average age of Corvette buyers is deceptively misleading,
    quite a few of them actually own multiple GM vehicles

    The reason why the Corvette doesn't sell to a younger audience
    is exactly because of what it is, a two seater with lots of power
    and a commensurate high price. In the US, most 30 somethings
    are more interested in trucks and SUVs.
    Last edited by jpd80; 07-18-2019 at 04:59 PM.

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    Re: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    Quote Originally Posted by jpd80 View Post
    The average age of Corvette buyers is deceptively misleading,
    quite a few of them actually own multiple GM vehicles
    Yeah... 60 is too young.
    I know many, many Corvette owners. I'm 60 and almost all of them are older than me.
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    Re: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    Quote Originally Posted by jpd80 View Post
    The average age of Corvette buyers is deceptively misleading,
    quite a few of them actually own multiple GM vehicles

    The reason why the Corvette doesn't sell to a younger audience
    is exactly because of what it is, a two seater with lots of power
    and a commensurate high price. In the US, most 30 somethings
    are more interested in trucks and SUVs.
    You may be right but it doesnt change the fact that when you have your target audience getting older by the minute you need to change something

    Kids put posters of McLarens and Ferraris on their walls

    Tony Stark drives an Audi

    You get my drift here right?

    It's about perception
    Who the hell approved this abomination? Hidden Content

    I bet it was some dumbarse in Detroit Hidden Content

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    Re: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    They perfected the front engine Vette, there wasn't anymore room for improvement. It had to evolve to advance.

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    Re: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    GM has a nasty habit of discarding buyers that will return over and over to buy
    a certain GM product because it doesn't fit with their new hip image.

    So let's hope all the old farts that have been supporting Corvette still have
    a reason to go buy the new C8 otherwise, GM's new Corvette is very exposed....

    Trust me, the things GM does all sound sensible, reasonable and logical
    but if the customer base is lost and not re-established then as we've seen,
    even great cars with poor marketing can sit unsold and unloved...
    Last edited by jpd80; 07-18-2019 at 05:15 PM.

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    Re: New Corvette: GM Moves Engine, Stirs Revolt

    Quote Originally Posted by VS Ute 5Litre View Post
    You may be right but it doesnt change the fact that when you have your target audience getting older by the minute you need to change something
    But those buyers are continually being replaced by other older buyers coming into the market so the average age may not show the actual progression from say, 55 to 75...

    Kids put posters of McLarens and Ferraris on their walls

    Tony Stark drives an Audi

    You get my drift here right?

    It's about perception
    So you're going to replace one niche product with another..OK.
    So how do the buyers who own/lease Euro Performance vehicles
    feel about being seen in a Corvette?

    It's all about image and what you're seen driving...do you get my drift?

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