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HomeThe MarketWhy spend more when you can buy the best, the C8 Corvette

Why spend more when you can buy the best, the C8 Corvette

Andy is awed after a week in Chevrolet’s mid-engine convertible

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When you talk to people about the new mid-engine 2021 C8 Chevrolet Corvette, they tend to say things like “it’s the best Corvette ever” or “the best sports car ever made in America,” and even “the best value for a high-performance car in the world.” 

All three of these statements are true, yet they miss the point of what the new C8 Corvette really is. It is no less that an American-built sports car that is the equal to, and often better than, many of the seriously high-dollar exotica from Italy and Germany. 

Corvette, Why spend more when you can buy the best, the C8 Corvette, ClassicCars.com Journal
It’s an open-and-shut situation. Andy thinks the new C8 Corvette is the best
Corvette, Why spend more when you can buy the best, the C8 Corvette, ClassicCars.com Journal

It is still a Corvette, which any C3 owner gets the minute they sit behind the wheel and see the look of the front fenders through the windshield. But it is also a head-to-head competitor in styling and performance with the best in the world. 

The fact that the car was designed and built by General Motors and is being offered at such a modest price illustrates that the engineers and designers at car companies in the US are quite capable of building cars that are the equal of or better than those of any manufacturer in the world, once they set their minds to it. 

Think about it. If they can build a C8 Corvette and sell it for less than 70 grand, what could they do with a spors car priced at 150k? Happily, the Vette, even in its upcoming increased-performance versions, is not likely to get close to that figure. 

Corvette, Why spend more when you can buy the best, the C8 Corvette, ClassicCars.com Journal
Corvette, Why spend more when you can buy the best, the C8 Corvette, ClassicCars.com Journal
Chevrolet photo

Quite simply, the C8 Corvette has democratized the world of super high-performance sports cars. It is not the underdog. Instead, it is many cases the top dog.

The 2021 Corvette LT3 that I tested was the convertible version. I was a bit saddened by this as I really like the look of the engine under glass in the standard targa coupe. But I got over that the minute I retracted the top. Doing so took about 5 seconds and was done with the push of a button.

The styling of the convertible really comes into its own with the top down, and it closely resembles some of the cars from Italy that wear the fighting-bull emblem.

On a styling note, my car had the side scoops finished in black, and if I were building one for myself, I’d prefer them to be body colored as the black broke up the design. 

Getting into the new C8 may be a bit difficult for older drivers as the car is quite low, but the quality of the interior makes it worth the trouble. This is by far the finest Corvette interior ever designed and uses excellent materials throughout.

Yes, there are a lot of buttons, though not nearly as many as the first-generation Porsche Macan. But the C8’s switchgear reminded me of the Mach 5 in the cartoon Speed Racer, and I thought they were neat.

They are a bit gimmicky, but after about 5 minutes driving, I knew where all the controls were and was easily able to operate them while driving the car. 

An additional plus for the C8 is that it can accommodate just about any driver of any size, at least up to around 6-foot-5. I am 6-foot-4 and could adjust the seat in a way to make it very comfortable, to the point that I would not hesitate to take the new Corvette on a cross-country journey. 

The car also has two trunks — front and rear — with ample storage space for even someone like me, who travels with a lot of luggage.

Corvette, Why spend more when you can buy the best, the C8 Corvette, ClassicCars.com Journal

The performance of the new Corvette is as world class as the styling. The car can sprint to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and shifts through the dual-clutch transmission equal to or better than the very best paddle-shifting transmissions from Europe.

The gear selection on up and down shifts is instantaneous and there is not a single driver out there, other than possibly 9-time Le Mans winning driver Tom Kristensen, who can shift a manual gearbox faster. The revs are matched perfectly. This car would be incredible on a track.

The engine has torque for days and the power comes on and just seems to keep pulling all the way to redline. At the same time, the sound of the engine directly behind you, especially with the sport exhaust activated for maximum performance, is awesome.

One thing I have read in a number of reviews is that the exhaust at low rpm is too restrained. I think that is a bunch of bunk, and here is why: Since the launch of the C2 in 1963, the Corvette has been able to do something better than any other true sports car in the world. Like a 4-wheeled chameleon, it makes the transition from boulevard cruiser to full-on sports car more seamlessly than any other car in its class. Not even the Porsche 911 accomplishes this as well, and it never has. 

Corvette is the car that sedately drives to the country club for lunch with the driver and passenger in comfort. If after lunch you decide to go to the track, the car transforms into a weapon able to keep up with the fastest street cars. And afterward, it’s content for an effortless drive to dinner.

Try that in a McLaren, Ferrari, or even a Porsche 911. They all fall short. The new C8 Corvette is in every way a sports car that you could treat as an ordinary vehicle, driving it not only every day but year-round. It is that competent.

The steering, handling and the brakes on the C8 are as excellent as the rest of the car. As a driver’s car, there are simply no faults to be found. It tracks as if telepathically and the brakes are better than on many dedicated racing cars. It really is that good. 

The technology in the car is excellent with Bluetooth working well even with the top down at highway speeds, and it has a very respectable audio system. It was also quite easy to sync my phone.

Corvette, Why spend more when you can buy the best, the C8 Corvette, ClassicCars.com Journal
Adaptive cruise deals with clogged turnpike traffic

Something else that bears mentioning is is how this car works in day to day driving condition such as traffic jams. I drove the Corvette from Connecticut to New Hampshire on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago and, of course, got stuck in the parking lot that is the Mass Turnpike due to all the people going to Cape Cod for the weekend. 

I put the car in comfort mode and just moved along with the traffic on the road. No switching between first and second gear needed, just accelerator and brake. For traffic like this, the C8 is the perfect sports car to have and handles it without an issue and with minimal stress.

This C8 is so impressive that midway through my time with the car, I found myself in the GM website seeing what the Corvette in the exact combo I would want would cost. Since I do not believe in buying new cars as a rule, the fact that I was, and still am, entertaining the idea of getting one of these cars is pretty interesting. My all-in price for the one I built online, a base LT1 coupe in Elkhart Lake Blue Metallic with fitted luggage, came in at a very reasonable $66,085. 

To say that I loved the new Corvette is an understatement. I wanted to check myself and see if it was just me or if the car is really as good as I thought, so I put a few friends behiind the wheel.

The first was my friend, noted Barn Find Hunter and author Tom Cotter. After driving for 30 minutes, he came away as blown away by the C8 as I was, specifically discussing the overall quality of the car, the comfort of the passenger compartment, and its strong performance. He also came away thinking about what it would cost to build one to his specifications.

The next person I put in the car was my friend and boss at Hayden Wood Insurance. Morgan Duffy is a classic car expert, who also vintage races and has driven just about every supercar on the planet. He was astounded by the speed of the gearbox and thought that it was at least equal to anything that Ferrari or Lamborghini were building. He also entertained the idea of seeing what one in the spec he wanted would cost, and he is not a Corvette guy.

The final test subject was my friend Jeff Chervenak, a longtime Porsche 911 owner, and a former PCA racer and driving instructor. Jeff found the performance staggering, commenting on how communicative the chassis is and how effortless yet still involving the car is at the limit.

Corvette, Why spend more when you can buy the best, the C8 Corvette, ClassicCars.com Journal

So, after a week with the C8, taking a 500-mile road trip, going to the supermarket, and enjoying some truly great roads along the way, what did I think of the car overall?

First, the new Corvette is still a Corvette in all the ways a Corvette aficionado would want it to be. Yet is so much more. You should also consider that unlike the European sports cars, getting the C8 serviced is a visit to your local Chevy dealer and that a major service (likely to be basically an oil change) is less than $200.

It quickly becomes clear that the only reason you would buy a European sports car instead of the C8 Corvette is because you are buying a badge and are willing to spend, in the case of a 911 Carrera S, more than $35,000 additional for that privilege. 

Even though I am a longtime Porsche owner, I am not sure I could justify that expense, especially when I honestly feel that the Corvette is the better car overall and so much less expensive maintain.

2021 Chevrolet Corvette 3LT convertible

Vehicle type: 2-passenger convertible, rear-wheel drive

Base price: $77,850 Price as tested: $93,620

Engine: 6.2 liter V-8,, 495 horsepower @ 6,450 rpm

and 470 pound-feet of torque @ 5,150 rpm Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic

Wheelbase: 107.2 inches Overall length/width: 182.3 inches / 76.1 inches

Curb weight: 3,622 pounds

EPA mileage estimates: 16 city / 27 highway / 20 combined

Assembled in: Bowling Green, Kentucky

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Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

40 COMMENTS

  1. Loved your review and I own a 2021 C8 convertible, built 2/25/21. However, your comment on the “adaptive cruise control” bewildered me! I have no adaptive cruise, nor does anyone else I know with a C8 have this feature. I love adaptive cruise and wanted it very badly, but have seen nothing about it being available at any price. Please comment.

  2. I may be misremembering but I know I was using the cruise in the pic of it going 8 MPH in traffic. I may well be misremembering it. I had the car a month ago and have been in 4 cars since I drove it. I feel like it did have it but am now unsure. If I am wrong and thinking of another car I apologize. 🙂

    • Clearly you need help and just want to stand out from the crowd. Best Corvette ever. Fully equal to any sports car up to $150k.

  3. Phenomenal machine Styling is more subjective. Bang for the buck, certainly the best. Clearly no better choice if I was in the market for an automatic or paddles.

  4. No, because the exterior is so poorly designed!
    This from a lifelong Corvette fan, with a C2 Split Window and having owned sundry other models. Also a lover of mid-engine cars, so I was anticipating something special. The engineers seem to have nailed it, the interior is finally world class, but the exterior, from proportions to surfacing is just horrible!

    • As they say, looks are subjective. This is my sixth Corvette and hands down the best looking one ever. You are in a very small minority based on the overwhelmingly positive response to the looks and the rest of the car. Wheel choices are terrible and the Z51 wing detracts from the flowing looks of the
      C8.

        • Huey, I have a 3LT in Sebring Orange, and while there is criticism of the C8, I have to say I was very attracted to this car from the jump. So much so, that it’s my first american car! I’d love to see what you and other designers can come up with to enhance the looks. To me, I think they kept certain Stingray elements from the C3 which I like:
          https://www.instagram.com/p/CRzIwPRluI3/

          While also doing new things:
          https://www.instagram.com/p/CK0IRs9LO2v/

          And overall, while the rear might be a bit busy, and they could have added some additional interior storage (behind the seats like Ferraris have, no?) I think it looks great and the quality finish of the LT3 even surprises some Maclaren/911/Ferrari owners I know well. If that’s not high praise I don’t know what is!

  5. I could not agree more…. I have never been a Corvette guy although I did buy a C4 in 1985 and owned it for a very short time. The reviews were amazing and I fell in love with a pre-production car at Pebble Beach in August 2019. Immediately placed my order for a silver/tan convertible and took delivery October 2020. It really is was one of the early convertibles and I feel privileged to have gotten it when I did. I was skeptical at first but overcome with the quality and performance and with now 7000 miles, it is no doubt a keeper. would like to get my hands on a Z06 when available too. I’ve owned a lot of Porsches and Ferraris through the years but I can easily say this is one of my favorite all around sports cars for all of the reasons so eloquently outlined above! Jerry

    • Don’t know if you have actually seen the car or sat inside. Best looking Corvette ever (#6 for me), the interior is beautiful with premium materials, fit and finish. The row of switches is not a problem at all.

  6. I’ve been telling people who talk about the C8 from a value point of view that they are wrong. GM built a $125k sports/super car that they sold at a starting price of $60k. Performance, looks, fit & finish, premium ride and performance worthy of a car costing $125,000. I have no Porsche or Ferrari envy when driving my C8. In fact I sort of feel sorry for them. When comparing to 911S convertible, the real roughly apples to apples price difference is more like $60,000!

  7. Have owned a ’58 356A Porsche Speedster, ’65 356C Porsche Coupe. Fiat 850 Spider (yuck!), Alfa Romeo Alfetta, & a ’95 348 Ferrari Spider. My ’20 C8 LT3 Z51 is the best handling car I’ve ever driven! What a thrill to sit in the cockpit. Yeah, ain’t it great.

    • No offence dude but it really isn’t that surprising a car with 25 years worth of technology over the closest car you mention is the best handling you’ve driven.

      Suspension and drivetrain technology is lightyears ahead of where it was in 1995.

  8. Yes, 66K for a base model (1LT) that is far from base compared to cars in its class. If you upgrade to a 2LT or a 3LT and start adding options yes you easly hit over 90K. But try finding any sports car for under 70K that even approaches the Vette in value. Not gonna happen. LOL

  9. I had my 2021 Corvette C8 3LT HTC delivered on 8/16/21 and I am thrilled by this car. This is my 3rd Corvette and it is the Grands Slam of Corvettes. I have driven Porsche 911s, variety of sports cars, owned a 2012 Mustang GT and I must say that I am the happiest owner of a new car. Still a lot to learn about the car and I will be taking advantage of the discounted offer to attend the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School offered to new C8 owners. The interior is comfortable and logically laid out for function selection. The exterior styling is excellent and far better than my C6 convertible that I sold in preparation of buying the C8. Enjoying my Corvette!

  10. Does a real sports car have an automatic transmission? I don’t think so. Corvette has long been a follower of Ferrari and this C8 is certainly similar to the Italia 458. So it is more of a derivative design but with the old school Chevy push rod motor that dates to the mid-1950s. It is very fast 0-60 mph, but is slower on the track than the C7 Grand Sport which also has more useable cargo space.

    • Hi Paul just to clarify, the C8 transmission is not an automatic but a dual clutch F1 style gearbox. It is in fact a manual just one that has its clutches activated automatically. Consider that every single sports racing car has a similar setup as does ever single F1 car for more than 20 years. You are still engaged with the car just without a clutch pedal. I completely know how you feel about this as my daily driver fair weather car is a 6 speed manual BMW Z4 but using this remarkable gearbox for a week made me a fan. It also helps to make the car that much more easy to live with in day to day traffic and really take nothing away for the experience.

  11. I’ve owned all years of the Corvette. This one blows me away. I’ve driven some of the most valuable cars, both domestic and foreign. Driven GT 40s , Cobras, Astons and many prototypes. Have not driven the C8 yet but will. I’m afraid most dealers tack on thousands for themselves, making the C-8 harder to buy. Too bad I’m retired.

  12. Yes looks speed and quick shifting everything I would love to have but the price tag is NOT 65,000 after the the dealers add on 30,000 over list and that I will not pay to the money hungry dealers and I think it will or is hurting more people from buying. JUST SAYING

  13. I don’t see how this is still a corvette. I could put a corvette engine in my honda civic and call it a corvette? Or better yet, throw my civic engine in a Lamborghini, is it still a Lambo?

    • GM engineering of the engine, transmission, end suspension and the body is what makes this two seater sports car a Corvette.

      The product is a child of GM so GM has the right to name it whatever they want .

  14. The styling seems very busy to me, with lots of nonfunctional style lines added which clutter it up.
    I prefer the Ferraris smoother shape, but can’t argue with the overall value!

  15. When can I buy one in the UK. Directly from manufacturer not third party rippers. We can get mustang here for 50,000. So hurry up and get your act together.

  16. Another blog by a writer who misuses the word “technology”. There’s more actual automotive technology in the Corvette engine and transmission then it all the combined electronic entertainment crap buried in the dashboard.

  17. Please contact me at 15125421708. I would like to know more if the specs on the motor and transmission. Also would like to know what up grades are available at dealership.

  18. I’m a Holden/Pontiac GTO guy. Car club bud let me wheel his 700+ hp C7 Z ‘vette with a manual, as I prefer. Spooky hilarious fun, even tho’ a blown 6 Audi quattro jumped me and got away til ’bout 80- just couldn’t get it to hook. And if you like tail happy tire smoke, at 80+ sideways and giggling like an idiot, well.
    Rode in his bud’s C8. Vastly superior in almost every way- even the cheap plastic interior bits were mo’ bedda. But no manual. Deal breaker at any price. ‘Vettes, GTOs, 2 door real Chargers, all should have a manual with the auto as the option.
    Still, a worthy bargain hitting far above it’s weight.

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