In response to the many letters I’ve received dating back to the 1990s asking about a mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette, I’m happy to say that last week Chevrolet officially announced that a mid-engine C8 generation will debut July 18. The 2020 Corvette will be a huge hit as it joins the many siblings that have been around since 1954, many with special edition history.
This special edition history includes the likes of the 1967 L88, 1969 all-aluminum L88 ZL1, and the awesome 2015 Z06. Some 20 special editions appeared from 1978 to 2010 and had specific Regular Production Order (RPO) code numbers which spawned notables like the C3 ’78 Silver Anniversary/Indy 500 Pace Car, C4 ’96 Grand Sport and C5 2001 Z06.
Notables of special edition cars that did not have a factory RPO codes and were creations of the biggest names in aftermarket engineering featured Corvettes from John Lingenfelter and John Hennessey. Both added enhanced turbo and supercharged versions and these Corvettes were not only ultra-quick, they were easy on the eyes with special aero design additions. Most notable is the very special “ultra quick Corvette” that did have an official RPO code, namely the Reeves Callaway twin-turbo Corvettes that bore RPO B2K from 1987 to 1991. And the Callaway RPO was made active again in 2013 for the 25 examples of the supercharged Callaway Cars produced as Callaway anniversary models.

As for me, the first ever “special edition” Corvette I remember was the Zora Arkus Duntov inspired 1963 Grand Sports … all five of them. Built to take on the Ford Shelby Cobras that were tearing up the road racing tracks, these 377-inch small-block lightweight Corvettes were specially prepared and weighed just 1,900 pounds. To this day, all five Duntov Grand Sports have survived and became the most valuable Corvettes of all-time. Each one is insured for at least $5 million.

Originally, Duntov was to build 125 Grand Sports to qualify for GT production class road racing, but Chevy decided to pull out of organized racing in late February ’63. This “no racing” mandate left many oval, road race and drag teams without factory assistance and the Grand Sports were immediately dissolved from any further production.

Now back to the new C8.

This mid-engine Corvette, which was long rumored to be on the drawing board, is now a Chevrolet reality. There will be some surprises, too, as the first 2020 mid-engine Stingray entry model will NOT be powered by a twin turbo V6, which pleases me to no end.

Chevrolet has been criticized that the LS family and current LT1 and LT4 Corvette engines are still pushrod designs instead of the “modern” overhead cam patterns that most of today’s ultra sports cars are powered by.

As for most Corvette enthusiasts, a 650 horsepower supercharged Corvette pushrod V8 is nothing to scoff at and the fact that Corvette C8s will initially be powered by this engine in non-supercharged form assures us that the price will be lower than expected. Behind the scenes authorities feel the new C8 mid-engine Corvette with near 500 horses will sell for a base of from $62,000 to $65,000, not over $100,000 as expected. The first C8 for sale will be the Stingray entry-level model complete with the 6.2 LT2 pushrod engine with near 500 horsepower. A dual-clutch eight-speed automatic will transfer the LT2 engine torque and at this time, no manual transmission is available.

However, this older pushrod V8 doesn’t mean Chevy is sitting on its laurels. (Far from it). A twin turbo, 5.5-liter double overhead cam (DOHC) V8 engine will make a debut and produce approximately 900 to 1,000 horsepower. These special C8s will easily surpass the $100,000 range with an all-out Z06 or ZL1 mid-engine C8 retailing somewhere in the $140,000 to $160,000 range with all the goodies. A Zora Duntov special edition? I’d say very possible and probably over $160,000.

Now, even more good news. GM CEO Mary Barra made the official C8 announcement at the Siller Foundation charity gala in New York City last week, arriving in a well camouflaged C8 driven by Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter.

Thanks to blog leaks, it is now common knowledge that a rumored hybrid-assist Zora Duntov AWD model is also on the drawing board. The Zora AWD model will feature the twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8and then add hybrid electric assist in the front axle to arrive at a 1,000 horsepower combined output. There is also talk of a rear drive only Zora trim, with no hybrid assist and the 900 horse twin turbo V8 engine. We’ll have to wait and see, but everyday there’s more on the boards and even more GM official news pouring out about the new generation Corvette C8.

Stay tuned. Things are going to stay “Corvette crazy” right on through July 18 of this year.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at greg@gregzyla.com.