The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C8 is the American carmaker’s first production mid-engine supercar. However, it’s not the first mid-engine Chevy sports car to wear the Corvette badge. Unbeknownst to some, the design work for Chevy’s mid-engine C8 Corvette started back in 2011, and GM engineers were flirting with the idea of a mid-engine Corvette since the early 60s.
The first-gen Corvette C1 entered production in 1953. It’s handsome styling immediately drew interest, but GM engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov (the “Father of the Corvette” for those in the know) had other plans. GM hired Arkus-Duntov in 1953 after unveiling the first-gen C1 model. He rose to the ranks and became GM’s high-performance director by 1955, the same year the Corvette came with an optional 4.3-liter V8 engine.
Five years onwards, Arkus-Duntov had created the CERV I, Chevrolet Engineering’s first research vehicle. Unlike the production Corvette, CERV 1 has a mid-engine layout similar to a Formula 1 racing car. Arkus-Duntov knew the blueprint of future performance racing cars would rely on a mid-engine chassis architecture.
Chevrolet came up with no less than nine mid-engine Corvette prototypes from the early 1960s to the mid-1990s before greenlighting the C8 Corvette for production. Chevrolet engineers built multiple scale models and three full-size clay renditions before giving the green light. As we know it, the result is a Corvette with the soul of a mid-engine exotic supercar.
For the first time, the engine is now behind the driver, and what an engine it is. At the moment, all C8 Corvettes have a 6.2-liter small-block LT2 V8 motor producing 490 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. The Z51 Performance Package adds five more horsepower and five more torques. True to form, the C8 Corvette is rear-wheel-drive, but you can’t have a manual stick. Still, the standard eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is a peach.
Executive editor Chris Davies was lucky enough to sample the C8 Corvette Convertible last month, and he was visibly impressed with the engine’s supercar-beating merit. “The Stingray leaps ahead like a beast scalded, monstrously quick and with a soundtrack to match,” said Davies. It goes from zero to 60 mph in 2.9-seconds and has a top speed of 194 mph.
Part two of Chevrolet’s C8 Corvette documentary will air next year on January 4 at 1 p.m. ET. After giving us a glimpse of the new Corvette from a designer’s perspective, part two will probe into the engineering behind Chevy’s newest supercar-beater.