Mid-engine Corvette hits dealer lots

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Dearborn — The long-awaited first mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette is finally starting to hit dealerships.

Dearborn's "Corvette King," Les Stanford Chevrolet, received a truckload of 2020 Corvette C8s after they began shipping March 4 from General Motors' Bowling Green, Kentucky, assembly plant. Deliveries were delayed by a few months after last fall's 40-day strike by the United Auto Workers interrupted production.

The excitement that has been built up around the car means "it has probably been the best rollout on the car, looking back on the different generations of the Corvette," said Weston Stanford, executive vice president of the dealership, one of the top Corvette sellers in the country.

Weston Stanford, executive vice president at Les Stanford Chevrolet, poses with a 2020 Corvette inside the showroom.

The eighth-generation Corvette's transition to an amidships engine to improve handling marks a milestone in the car's history and opens it up to new customers who might have opted for a more expensive European supercar.

"We have always known it was out there somewhere and might happen someday, so it’s a big moment for the history of the car," said Karl Brauer, executive publisher for Kelley Blue Book. 

Chevrolet unveiled the mid-engine Corvette last summer to acclaim for its zero-60 mph in less than 3 seconds at a cost of less than $60,000. 

"It’s a good price-point for what you get with it compared to what you get with the more exotic sports car," Corvette customer Dave Floore said. "For the amount of money, I think it’s a super deal."

Floore, 67, of Shelby Township is trading in his 2014 Corvette for a 2020 model. His new one is black with a red and black interior, and comes with the racing package.

"It’s not an every day driving car. It’s just not a smooth ride," he said. "I drive it up north to the cottage. That’s nice because you’re on the open road."

Chevrolet received an unprecedented 192,000-plus “hand-raisers,” or customers who express an interest in buying, The Detroit News previously reported. The Corvette has averaged 24,000 sales a year since 2006.

Demand for the new Corvette is five times greater than dealer allotments for it. The Les Stanford dealership had an allotment of 600 for 2020 and surpassed that. Every Corvette that comes here already has an owner.

"We do a lot of out-of-state business, so some of these cars may not touch down here," Weston Stanford said.  

George Matick Chevrolet in Redford Charter Township was allotted 200 Corvettes and nearly all of those orders are filled. Paul Zimmermann, partner and vice president at the dealership, has worked with several Porsche drivers who are thinking about ordering the new Corvette. He can remember a decade ago Porsche owners chuckling at the thought of switching to a Corvette. 

The mid-engine of the 2020 Corvette at the Les Stanford Chevrolet in Dearborn, March 11, 2020.

"It’s kind of remarkable," he said. "I think for true drivers, there is a strongly held [belief] that a mid-engine car is utopia performance." 

The mid-engine Corvette is something GM, specifically Zora Arkus-Duntov, GM engineer and the"father of the Corvette," wanted to develop. 

"This was was his vision," Zimmermann said. "This has been a labor of love and now to see it come to fruition ... it’s a cool thing. There’s a lot of people who are excited including us."

The lines of the car that give it a "sleek, sexy look"  and its low price in comparison to other exotic sports cars make it appealing to younger buyers, Stanford said.

While the move to relocate the engine is said to be because GM was limited on where to go next with the Corvette's performance, Brauer thinks "Chevrolet also really wants to see if they can pull in more sophisticated buyers who haven’t been looking at the Corvette."

And this is just the first version of the mid-engine Corvette the next versions are going to be "increasingly more powerful," Brauer said.

"It’s a phenomenal car," said Dan Smith, executive vice president at Les Stanford. "It's a completely different car. It’s superior to anything we ever had."