Currently reading: Chevrolet Corvette owners club meets the mid-engined C8
Chevrolet broke with years of tradition when it ditched a front-engined drivetrain for its latest 'Vette. We source enthusiasts' reactions

The logic in Chevrolet lifting the venerable small-block V8 out of the nose of the Corvette and dropping it behind the seats is easy to understand. The engineers had got as much out of the front-engined, rear-wheel-drive format as they could; if they wanted more performance, especially on the track and in racing, going mid-engined was the logical move.

However, there’s also another reason, and a more important one at that. The front-engined sports car is old-fashioned. For those of us who grew up fantasising about owning a Jaguar E-Type, Aston Martin V8 Aston Martin Vantage or Ferrari Daytona, the format is still highly emotional. For younger enthusiasts, though, a sports car is mid-engined (unless it’s a Porsche 911). Not so much for its dynamics but for the way it looks.

The Vanquish Vision concept shown at Geneva last year demonstrates that Aston Martin is thinking along similar lines. It is a risky move, though. The Corvette is mostly bought by baby boomers; what if this change to a mid-engined layout for the C8 puts them off? You can’t overnight change your customer base, even if your underlying theory is correct. So what do current Corvette fans think of the C8? Well, there’s only one way to know, and that’s to ask them.

Welcome to the car park of the Bootleg Italian Bistro in Las Vegas, Nevada. Vegas is where Chevrolet is holding the international launch of the C8 Corvette Stingray; later today, we’ll be driving the cars on a road trip out to Lake Mead and the day after to the nearby Spring Mountain race circuit for some track driving. I’m beyond excited.

18 Corvette c8 2020 engine

On this gorgeous sunny Sunday morning, we’re joined by a large group of enthusiastic members of the Las Vegas Corvettes Association. Last month, I got in touch with club president Benita Klaizner and asked her if she could get together a group of owners to have a butcher’s at the C8 and tell me what they thought of it.

In the interests of science and for my own enjoyment, I asked Benita if she could manage an example of each Corvette from the formative C1 onwards. Benita is a girl who gets things done, and sure enough we have seven generations of Corvette here, plus a bright yellow C8 brought by the man from Chevrolet. “Is it okay if other members come along?” Benita had asked me. “Of course,” I’d answered. “The more the better.” And what a fantastic collection of cars we’ve ended up with here.

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I know from experience that the original Corvette isn’t particularly dynamic on the road. It would have been unwise back in the day to take on a Porsche or Jaguar in one, but there’s no doubting the fact that Dan Crochet’s 1958 model is one of the most stylish sports cars ever made.

“I had a 1981 Corvette after I left college but bought this one 22 years ago,” says Dan. “I wanted a C2, but my wife loves C1s and twisted my arm. The ’58 is the only year that the car had this washboard bonnet and chrome boot straps. Critics at the time said the car was gaudy but, once I realised how special it was, I had to have one.

“It’s powered by a 283-cubic-inch [4.6-litre] engine with twin fourbarrel carburettors and pushes out 245bhp. The car was restored in 1990, and I take it out at least once a month for a drive up into the mountains.”

15 Corvettes gathered

Dan is interested in the C8, but it’s pretty obvious that nothing could take the place of his ’58.

Like most of the club members here, Slim Stephens has a long history of Corvette ownership. “I’ve owned this 1965 C2 Convertible for a couple of years,” he explains, “but I worked on it for 10 years when it was with its previous owner. It’s got a 327 [5.4-litre] engine with a new cam, a high-rise manifold that I’m about to swap for a Holley EFI system and a four-speed gearbox. I had a big-block ’64 coupé in the ’60s and then bought a new C3 in 1973.”

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Like several of the members, Slim is concerned that the C8 won’t be as practical as his car, due to its lack of luggage space. Actually, as Chevrolet dealers will no doubt demonstrate to potential owners, you can transfer a C7’s full luggage load straight into the C8’s front and rear boots.

Originally from Canada, Benita Klaizner is a long-time Corvette owner. She’s married to Jim, who slipped the bounds of communist Czechoslovakia in 1972, and the couple own this 2013 C6 Grand Sport 60th Anniversary Convertible as well as a 2015 C7 Stingray that lives at their house in the Czech Republic. They’re currently having a 1972 C3 restored as well. “We’ve already ordered a C8,” says Benita, “and I can’t wait for it to arrive. Each Corvette that we’ve owned has been better than the last. I love the style of the new car, and I’m sure that it’s going to be a car to be reckoned with.”

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Scarlett and Gino Montoya (no relation to Juan Pablo) are here in their 2014 C7 Convertible. Actually, it’s Scarlett’s. “I was a school teacher, and this car was a retirement present to myself, bought new,” she explains. “We’ve had a C5 and a C6 in the past.”

“And I had a ’57 fitted with a 409 [6.7-litre] engine that I used to drag race in the ’60s,” says her husband.

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The Montoyas are among those concerned about the luggage space of the C8 but, as discussed, I suspect it won’t take much of a salesperson to convert them. “The convertible might prove to be a temptation difficult to resist,” says Gino.

You can sign up Carl Hastings for a C8 too, but he’ll be waiting for second-hand examples to fall within his reach. Meanwhile, he’s enjoying his 1990 C4. “I’ve had this car for 20 years, but I also had an early [1986] C4 before it,” he says. “I owned a 1964 327 [5.4-litre] convertible in 1967, but these C4s were the first Corvettes that could get good gas mileage.”

If I were Ken Ackeret’s local Chevrolet dealer, I’d have him top of my list of potential customers for the C8. Ken’s here in his Targa Blue 1972 C3. “The C3 was the first Corvette that I was aware of when I was in high school,” he says. “I’ve owned this 350 [5.7-litre] four-speed car for five years. It has been in the club for most of its life and has been really well looked after.”

Ken also has a C5 that he’s owned from new. “It’s a 2004 model, which makes it one of the last C5s made,” he explains. “I’ve done 216,000 miles in it, and it has been extremely reliable. My wife has a C5 too, and we’ve also got a 2019 Sebring Orange Grand Sport hard-top.”

10 Ken ackeret

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Of all the classic Corvettes we have here this morning, it’s Ken’s C3 that appeals to me the most; the one I can imagine owning. As with him, this is the first model of Corvette that I was aware of. The C1 is the most beautiful but would be out of my budget.

The last of our seven generations is Jim Gregorio’s C5. Jim has spent the past 42 years working on Corvettes, both at private specialists in Connecticut and for two Chevrolet dealers in Las Vegas. There isn’t much he doesn’t know about these cars. His own C5 is far from stock, as they say here, with a dry-sump engine and numerous suspension modifications.

I’m rather impressed by his tyre choice: essentially a slick with one groove cut into it. “Er, yes,” he says. “They do have Department of Transportation stamps on them…” I suspect that they’re not entirely road legal, but then America is funny about things like that.

While clearly looking forward to getting his hands on a C8, Jim’s dream Corvette is a 1967 model that has been given the restomod treatment. “That’s getting really popular here,” he explains. “An LS7 engine with Z06 suspension would give me the perfect combination of ’60s style with modern performance, reliability and handling.”

Talking with all the owners of the seven model generations, as well as the other Las Vegas Corvettes Association members, it’s clear that the new and revolutionary C8 has already been taken to their bosoms. Some have already ordered theirs and others are either waiting for the launch of the convertible or the faster and more extreme versions that are likely to follow.

13 Corvette c1 1958 static rear

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I’m not at all surprised by their willingness to accept the C8, because it’s not the first time that I’ve witnessed dedicated owners welcome in the new world. Look how readily Rolls-Royce enthusiasts ushered the BMW-produced Rolls-Royce Phantoms into their fold. Same with Bentley owners and Volkswagen-era cars and traditional Mini owners with the BMW product.

As club president Benita herself proves, the passion for America’s sports car runs across many decades, and just because you own a 1972 model, it doesn’t mean that you won’t like a sixth-generation car or indeed the newcomer. I do suspect, however, that even these committed Corvette enthusiasts would draw the line at a four-cylinder hybrid powertrain…

How the C8 drives

Twenty years ago, I would have robbed a bank to have been able to buy myself this new Corvette. Today, though, I don’t see the point of owning a very high-performance car, and so I’d be more likely to spend my money on one of these classic Corvettes.

The C8 is, however, pretty much my perfect mid-engined supercar. The small-block V8 has enormous character and is a much more emotive engine than Ford’s V8, due, I suspect, to its two-valve combustion chambers. The motor not only sounds fantastic but shakes slightly at tick-over and cranks over with the torque reaction as you hit the throttle.

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At the launch event, Chevrolet displayed a cutaway C8 chassis that showed the layout as well as how well the car is put together. Put an Audi or Ferrari badge on the aluminium monocoque and nobody would know.

The new Corvette has a definite Lotus feel to it in the way it both rides and handles. The Nevada roads were smooth but, even so, the C8 felt supple and compliant. On the track, there was a hint of confidence-inspiring understeer on turn-in that reminded me of the Esprit.

About the only part of the C8 that I don’t like is the Allegro-style quartic steering wheel (the designers call it a ‘squircle’), but I’d get used to that.

When it comes to the UK early next year, the C8 is likely to cost around £80,000 and will be fitted with the Z51 performance upgrade package that’s a $5000 (£3810) option on our test car. This is an awful lot of car and performance for such money. But it’s more than that: I’d rather have this more characterful car over a McLaren, regardless of price.

The Pantera reborn?

I’ve not heard of anyone suggesting this, but to me the new Corvette is the De Tomaso Pantera reincarnated. Think about it: an affordable, rock-solid American V8 with an abundance of horsepower that will be cheap to maintain. And even in the worst-case scenario of the engine spreading itself across the road, a replacement wouldn’t break the bank.

12 Corvette hero side

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Plenty of owners had fun with the Pantera’s 351-cubic-inch [5.8-litre] Ford Cleveland V8 by fitting Weber downdraft carburettors or just giving it higher-compression pistons and a hotter cam. No doubt America’s huge speed shop community will offer a vast array of goodies for the C8.

I loved the Pantera, but my passion waned slightly when I made the mistake of driving one, due to a terrible driving position, poor quality and the fact it isn’t particularly fast.

Now it has a successor that follows the formula but executes it to 2020 standards.


Mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray arrives with 495bhp V8 

UK sales of Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro to end in August 

New Chevrolet Corvette could get hybrid or electric versions

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pubg mobile 5 April 2020

PUBG mobile update

What a fantastic website! Your exuberance is referring. I am just over one month into blogging and have achieved some early milestones, I recently started a blog on PUBG Mobile Update. Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading more of your articles that you've linked in here.

NoPasaran 5 April 2020


I wonder how many will be able to afford it in 2021

Takeitslowly 5 April 2020

No need to buy a drone when...

...we have petey.


As per usual and with a complete lack of self awareness, petey4x utilises its amazing super power...we know it as hindsight...and of course failed five years ago to tell us in advance that in 2015, they should have been 5 years ahead of their time.


Astonishing that the auto industry OEM's failed to winkle you out from your rotting plank of wood and put you in charge...who knows where they might be today?. Idiot.

Peter Cavellini 5 April 2020


Takeitslowly wrote:

...we have petey.


As per usual and with a complete lack of self awareness, petey4x utilises its amazing super power...we know it as hindsight...and of course failed five years ago to tell us in advance that in 2015, they should have been 5 years ahead of their time.


Astonishing that the auto industry OEM's failed to winkle you out from your rotting plank of wood and put you in charge...who knows where they might be today?. Idiot.

Takeitslowly@ ,There's worse things going on in the World than taking out the verbal hatchet, if you must have an opinion, and your perfectly entitled to, but, having a low tolerance level isn't healthy in the long run,yes, this statement is meant to cause thought.

scrap 5 April 2020

Takeitslowly wrote:

Takeitslowly wrote:

...we have petey.


As per usual and with a complete lack of self awareness, petey4x utilises its amazing super power...we know it as hindsight...and of course failed five years ago to tell us in advance that in 2015, they should have been 5 years ahead of their time.


Astonishing that the auto industry OEM's failed to winkle you out from your rotting plank of wood and put you in charge...who knows where they might be today?. Idiot.


Why not just give your own opinion rather than taking a needless pop at another commenter?

Truly pathetic behaviour.