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YESTERDAY, WE saw how a 1980 mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette nearly came to be. By the mid 1970s, the XP-882 had evolved into a production-ready fulfillment of chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov’s dream.
Then Zora retired from GM in 1975. His successor Dave McLellan, also an enthusiast, become Corvette’s Chief Engineer. McLellan did just fine, thank you, with the new 1984 C4’s engine in its traditional location. His successor Dave Hill also recognized the cost benefits of this layout through the C5 and C6.
A Modern Zora Arkus-Duntov. When Dave Hill retired in 2006, Tadge Juechter took over and has evolved into what Automobile magazine called “The Modern Age’s Zora Arkus-Duntov.” It’s Tadge Juechter who brought Zora Arkus-Duntov’s mid-engine dream to reality in the C8.
A Brief First Drive. SAE International’s Lindsay Brooke, SAE Automotive Engineering’s editor-in-chief, reported on a brief drive of the mid-engine Vette in the magazine’s November/December 2019 issue.
“The driver’s view over the low cowl is broad,” Lindsay reports. “With the 495-hp 6.2-L V8 behind you, cabin NVH is stunningly sedate. Punch the right pedal, however, and the quad tailpipes erupt with authority. Thrust is immediate and abundant.”
Technicalities Galore. Lindsay’s C8 was equipped with advanced technology, including magneto-rheological dampers as part of its $5000 Z51 Performance Package. As the name implies, MR technology magnetizes particles to set damper rheology (flow) that’s optimal.
Lindsay says, “With three driver-selectable suspension modes—Tour, Sport, Track—the MR dampers deliver a compliant ride in town and lushness on the open road, while transforming the car into a sharp track-day tool. Crossing railroad tracks is no longer torture in a Corvette.”
“The C8,” he says, “fits my long, lanky frame and size-12 feet like it was custom made. Low sills make ingress/egress a breeze.”
According to SAE Automotive Engineering, the Corvette Stingray Coupe “was widely celebrated for its aggressive $59,995 base price.” A convertible, with folding hardtop, will cost $7500 more.
Lindsay’s drive was only 45 minutes, “A very invigorating 45 minutes,” he says. “If there is anything not to like about the 2020 Corvette, I’ll need a longer drive to find it.”
A Corvette C8R race car will compete in the GTLM series, its debut coming at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January 2020.
Zora would be happy with this. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019