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C8/ZR1 Mid Engine

01/12/18 Hagerty Article on the C8
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by Don Sherman // January 12, 2018
Today it's clear that tradition is essential to the Corvette ethos. But younger, more adventurous customers will be needed to keep the flame burning. A mid-engine layout will allow more possibilities, including special editions that will climb even higher up the performance and price scale. Although the C7 Stingray and its evolutionary descendants will surely live on for several more years, the mid-engine C8 will soon arrive to give Corvette customers a second choice. Painted with drops of leaked information from a GM Deep Throat, our rendering of the forthcoming C8 is no mere guess. In Ferrari style, the mid-mounted V-8 will be proudly visible under the rear hatch. Expect the genuine article to break cover at the Detroit auto show in January 2019.


This is the mid-engine Corvette that GM lacked the courage to build for decades. It will first appear as a two-seat hatchback, with open editions to follow. Mounting the engine behind the cockpit facilitates lower seating and a notably sleeker hoodline. A lower center of gravity, improved forward visibility, and better air penetration are all attributable to the new architecture.


Fear not, pushrod V-8 fans, your pet engine is secure. We expect the mid-engine Vette to bow with a successor to today’s 6.2-liter LT1 pumped up to 600 horsepower with higher compression, more aggressive valve timing, and less restrictive exhaust. Dry-sump lubrication will facilitate mounting the engine low in the chassis. Other propulsion sources will follow, topping out at 1000-plus hybrid horsepower, with a twin-turbo V-8 driving the rear wheels and an electric motor powering the front wheels. The four-cam, 32-valve V-8 is a fantasy prompted by the LT5 designation assigned to the 2019 755-hp supercharged pushrod ZR1. GM power mongers have acknowledged interest in offering a flat-plane crankshaft V-8 mimicking the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350’s but without the frightful shake. Don’t be the last on your block to sell your Ferrari stock!


True friends of the stick will pout over the loss of a clutch pedal and H-pattern shifter. Rather, a state-of-the-art paddle-shifted seven-speed dual-clutch automatic supplied by Tremec will be the way and the truth. Packing the transmission and differential in one box bolted to the engine saves weight and shortens the wheelbase by an estimated eight inches, in turn trimming the turning circle, quickening steering response, and sharpening agility.


The C8 will showcase light materials. The hydroformed aluminum space frame will be assembled by automated tooling installed at the Bowling Green plant for the C7. Die-cast magnesium will reinforce the dash. Cast and forged aluminum components will be used for many chassis and powertrain components. As in today’s Vettes, the bodywork will be a shrewd mix of carbon fiber, sheet molding compound (fiberglass), and reinforced reaction-injection-molded plastic. Supplier Plasan Carbon Composites invented a means of constructing full door assemblies using its fast-acting pressure press process. The fuel tank and the coolant lines will reside in a central tunnel. To ensure the C8 is the best value in the sports car class, the engineering team religiously assessed weight saving versus cost for every component.


Faithful suppliers Michelin and Brembo will be back. BWI continues supplying the magnetorheological dampers. Carbon-ceramic brake rotors, opposed-piston calipers, and fiberglass leaf springs are a sure thing.


The latest infotainment and safety aids will be included. A cargo hold in the front of the car will swallow two sets of golf clubs. The hatch’s window will afford a clear view of the engine.


Following its debut at the 2019 Detroit show, the eighth-gen Corvette will roll into dealerships later in the year with a base price of $70,000.
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