For many enthusiasts, the C8 Corvette from Chevrolet is a very exciting car. This is Chevy's first mid-engine car, instantly giving the nameplate an image of the Everyman's exotic. Always being the pinnacle of performance for the automaker, competing in racing circuits with many European supercars, the Corvette is a winner. There isn't a car quite like the Corvette for America, not even the Dodge Viper. Though the two could be thought of as America's exotics, if you will, the Corvette certainly has more history and a greater legacy than the Viper. Born in 1953, the car was already in its fourth generation by the time the first Viper was made for production in the 90s. Not to mention the Corvette has enjoyed constant production, while the Viper's is anything but steady, if not volatile.
Still, the Corvette made it all the way to 2020 before going mid-engined, despite talks of internal desire to make the car so equipped well beforehand. That makes 2019 the last year one could get their hands on a traditional front-engine Corvette brand new. Built on nearly 70 years of research and development, the culmination of this in the C7 is not to be overlooked, aside the new flash.
The C7 Has It All
The C7 'vette has something for everyone. Rated 10/10, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better all-around sports car for the price. The base Stingray started at around $57,000 and comes equipped with a 455 horsepower V-8. Add to that a seven-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission, and the sub 4,000 pound car rockets to a sub-four second zero to sixty mph time. Upgrade to the Grand Sport trim for $10,000 more, and get a nice compromise between the base Stingray and next level Z06.
This trim is four inches wider than standard, has more aggressive gearing for the manual, and includes a dry-sump lubrication system for track duress. Also, standard on this trim is dual zone automatic climate control, adaptive dampers, and dual-mode exhaust. This C7 is so advanced that a big, naturally aspirated V-8, will still get 27mpg in a real world fuel economy test. The eight-speed auto adds a $1725 option over the standard manual seven-speed, but why mess with a good thing?
The C7 Z06: Finally Supercharged
Speaking of good things and next level performance, say hello to the Z06, packing a supercharged 6.2 liter V-8 featuring 650 ponies to go along with matching torque specs. The transmission options are the same, and the auto comes with paddle shift. Take things up a notch with the Z07 performance pack, adding carbon ceramic brakes, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires, and adjustable aero dynamics. With a driver centralized cockpit, it is still a passenger friendly two-seater. Competition Sport seats are included for added support, as well as modern infotainment, ventilated seats, and a custom leather-wrapped interior package. This makes the Z06 a livable daily, but also suited as a track beast, becoming an affordable and fantastic worldwide sports car.
The C7 ZR1: Pinnacle Performance With A Stick
Still, if you want to really talk about uber track specs, the ZR1 is daddy. Think Z06 on steroids. The ZR1 has a supercharged V-8 6.2 liter, pushing out 755 beautiful ponies, hitting the zero-to-sixty mph mark in three seconds flat! An optional rear wing provides up to 955 pounds of down force! Such ferocity comes at a price, however, as this car starts a just over $124,000. Meanwhile, a Z06 starts at just under $82,000.
Each car within the C7 lineup has its own styling cues and performance specs to set it apart from any other performance coupe you might encounter, with a range to suit a variety of budgets. The Grand Sport is the best compromise, although the base Stingray holds its own against most performance cars on the streets even today. Get yourself a Z06 and you're riding high. Find a ZR1, and be king of the streets. They're out there, all done up and ready, available for the taking. Being the last front engine Corvettes, expect these to only increase in value.
The C8 Gen Is Great But Incomplete
The current generation C8 is certainly exciting, the first mid-engine Corvette after decades of talk on that very idea, but to no fruition until even more decades after the original 'vette layout. Debuting in 2020, the C8 was meant to have a starting price of just under $60,000. However, base C8s are selling for more than that, not to mention the huge mark-up on the new for 2023 Z06. Of course different packages could take the C8 north of $78,000. Meanwhile, C7s are holding their value, with mark-ups only on the rare ZR1.
Even so, without a doubt, the C8 is impressive. Starting today at $64,500, with 495 max horsepower, a zero to sixty in 2.9 seconds, top speed of 194 mph, and 470 pound-feet of torque, the C8 does more in an all new package. Add to that an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission only, with Magnetic Selective Ride Control 4.0, and this is quite the advanced car.
2023 Brings The New Z06, Again N/A, But Auto Only
The C7 Z06 had the first supercharged engine in the LT4 for that trim, but the 2023 C8 Z06 returns the car to it's naturally aspirated roots. The 5.5-liter flat plane crank V-8 puts out 670 horsepower, and revs up to 8,500rpm! It'll blast from zero to sixty in just 2.6 seconds, hitting the quarter mile in 10.5 seconds at 131mph. Being the more hardcore and track focused trim of the lineup, the Z07 performance package adds tons of goodies.
This includes a tuned suspension, Brembo carbon ceramic brakes, and high performance Michelin Pilot Cup 2R ZP tires. Also, it requires the Carbon Aero package, complete with carbon fiber exterior elements like a front splitter and rear spoiler. The aerodynamics, weight reduction, and brake and tire upgrades of the Z07 package unlock the Z06's full potential. Of course, such might comes with a six-figure price range of $109,000 to over $130,000 depending on selected trim and body style.
The Future Is Not Set
To take things further, in 2025, the ZR1 is expected to return with an estimated starting price of $150,000. Not much is known yet, but expect a couple of turbos added to the existing 5.5-liter in the Z06, making north of 800 horsepower. Expect a zero to sixty in 2.5 seconds, along with a Z07 track package with carbon ceramic brakes. Also, further down the road in 2026, a possible 1,000 horsepower electric motor hybrid model! This could in fact be further advancement of 2024's upcoming E-Ray.
Today there are many Corvettes on the road to choose from given the lengthy production of the American sports coupe. Though more and more new gen C8s can be spotted each day, their excitement seems a bit short-lived. This is because of their availability, and thus their affordability. Also, the car is drifting further and further from what it was always before, an affordable American sports car to compete with foreign exotics. Nearly gone is the sub six-figure price tag. The front engine car is now mid-engine, and if you want a manual transmission, forget about it! For these reasons the C7 is a great buy.
Used is usually financially smart, avoiding dealer markup and instant depreciation. Also, buying a C7 today gives the power to pick and choose from the complete arsenal that the C7 had to offer in terms of trims and options. Sure get a base C8 today at an inflated price to impress, but once the Z06 shows up and the ZR1 drop, get ready to hand over the keys to the cooler and more unique ride. Perhaps instead, consider the C7. No matter the C7 choice, it's a great performer at the right price. As a possible supercharged front engine V-8, seven-speed manual track slayer of car, it's the pinnacle of such performance in the last of a dying breed.