After decades of rumors and spy photos we’re finally getting towards the C8 Corvette’s official release to the public. And though we think we know a lot about it, we very well may not know anything. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the C8 will bring a mid-engine to the American sports car’s long-standing nameplate. And even though we can be all but certain that the all-new car is coming, the skeptic in me can’t help but think: “don’t believe it until you see it.”
So in the wake of the endless spy photos and incessant speculating, it’s not that far-fetched. What if GM really doesn’t end up building the mid-engine Corvette?
Would there be backlash? Would GM fans riot in the streets? Would the brand as a whole throw up its hands, walk away in a huff, and jump ship?
Or would no mid-engine ‘Vette mean retaining the front-engine layout, but add some kind of way of powering the front wheels? It would be easy to envision something a-la NSX, with electric motors giving the front tires extra power and traction to supplement the V8 driving the rear wheels.
Supposedly the C7 ZR1 is the absolute limit of what a front-engine, rear-drive platform can manage. But we’ve heard that before, and each time the respective automaker pushes the envelope even further. The C7 ZR1 is bonkers like no ‘Vette has ever been, and something deep inside me knows there’s lawyers reeling its potential in just a bit in case they want to do one more hurrah for the MR-platform Corvette as we know it.
Then again, maybe they’re thinking of doing exactly that with the rear-engine layout. It makes all the sense in the automotive world: the C8 could be GM’s breakthrough in competing with the electrified super and hypercars. It could be their first true fight against the NSX and memories of 918/P1/LaFerrari. GM’s pioneering of battery technology through the Volt and Bolt projects very likely could have provided the know-how to come out swinging. In pairing some kind of battery and electric motor tech with their seemingly endless eight-cylinder petrol-fueled pushrod engines it could make for GM to have the equipment and innovation to make for a great first stab at it.
Is it just too much?
But what if it all just doesn’t happen? GM has been in the news lately for laying off workers and shutting down manufacturing plants. Would some kind of financial trouble mean they put the brakes on an all-new project with a high-dollar price tag? What if the stock market suddenly takes a massive nosedive, rendering the $150k price range too tough to swallow for the times? Would they still bring the C8 out as a tech leader and flagship for the brand name? Or what if prior to the C8’s release something catastrophic happens with GM as a whole, something in line with Dieselgate? Would the project be pulled completely?
It’s fun to play with hypotheticals, especially considering the mid-engine ‘Vette’s history. Now, the supposed very-real car has already been delayed due to wiring issues and just this week news broke of a test mule needing to be rescued from a gas station. Clearly this vehicle is not without faults, and GM is undoubtedly working endlessly to iron out all the problems before it debuts. Which, as we all think, is probably going to happen this year.
And then there’s the possibility that the C8 is going to be either a Cadillac-branded vehicle or released in tandem with a Cadillac variant. Rumors have this happening in a way not unlike the C6 and XLR were effectively the same vehicle with different priorities. This time around think C8 as being more of a McLaren and NSX fighter and the Caddy being more to battle the lower-trim Ferraris and similarly-luxurious exotics from companies like Bentley. In this case, what does that mean for each of them? Should the models be differentiated by their drivetrains, or just grilles and leather quality?
It’s coming though, right?
Clearly there are almost endless questions circulating everything regarding the upcoming Corvette and everything surrounding it. Its drivetrain, its price point, even its release date. So while enthusiasts all over sit around and debate these questions, how much power it will have, what it will compete with on a performance basis, and so on, I’m left somewhat on the side. My mind isn’t thinking of how great the C8 might be, but rather: what will it be, and will it be at all?
At this point we’ve been waiting for a mid-engine Corvette for what feels like forever. Longer, even, than we waited for the LFA, NSX, and Supra. Since the C7 debuted we’ve been hearing that the C8 is coming. But the Corvette’s entire history is marked with rumors of the platform moving to mid-engine, so there’s always the possibility it might not happen at all.
Call me the skeptic on this, but I’m still holding out until I see the reveal with my own eyes. For now I’ll just wait, hoping it happens… because if it doesn’t, GM might just have the automotive letdown to end all automotive letdowns.