Last week GM debuted the new Corvette — the C8, as it’s known — and it’s shaping up to be something special, with a rear-mounted V8 engine (a first for the Corvette), short athletic front end, wide rear haunches, and what finally looks like a nice interior. The new ‘Vette looks more supercar than muscle car.
But many of the Corvette faithful — men pushing over 60, possibly pony-tailed and post-second divorce (I kid, I kid) — aren’t happy about the massive changes to the Corvette’s tried and true formula — namely a huge front hood with a big V-8 engine underneath, tall front fenders, and small back end buttoning up that long coupe silhouette. And don’t get them started on the lack of a manual transmission in the new C8.
And therein lies the problem facing GM. Aging Corvette buyers aren’t getting any younger. The median age of a Corvette convertible buyer is a staggering 67 years old, according to research firm Strategic Vision. The same firm finds the median age for the BMW 6-series is a relatively spry 54, and the Nissan GT-R, a youthful 33.
Meanwhile, as you may have guessed, Corvette sales have been slipping, from 37,782 in 2017 to only 9,686 in 2018 — the lowest total since 1959, when only 9,670 Corvettes were built, this according to data compiled by the National Corvette Museum.
Now it’s true sales numbers may have dipped as likely Corvette buyers waited to hear more about the much-rumored C8, and Chevy likely scaled back production in anticipation of starting the new ‘Vette. But the numbers don’t lie, and the sales decline on its face is quite significant.
A new beginning for the Corvette
This is where GM decided to go “out with the old, and in with the new” — for the car, as well as its customers. The look, features, and specs makes it obvious that the new Corvette is meant to resonate with younger, more enthusiast sports car buyers who want the Corvette to be a track fighter, not a boulevard cruiser with massive straight-line speed. The all-new design is European sports–car-esque, with a supercar-fighting 495-horsepower heart sitting aft of driver, and a cockpit that finally screams quality.
“The potential for success for an all-new, mid-engine Corvette is high, assuming the price/performance equation makes sense,” writes Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book. “The Corvette has always offered incredible bang for your performance buck, and if Chevrolet can produce a V8-powered, exotic-slaying mid-engine sports car for less than $70,000 it should sell as well or better than the current Corvette.”
Yes, you read that last part right - and pricing will actually be better than that. GM President Mark Reuss says the new Corvette’s starting price will be under $60,000. So essentially you can buy this car, or go for a Porsche (PAH3.DE) Boxster or Cayman with nowhere near that power.
Will it drive and carve like a Porsche? We’ll have to see, but the new GM post-bankruptcy has been making some sporty vehicles, and it’s no stretch to believe GM engineers have found the right formula with the all-new C8.
Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter here.