2020 Corvette C8 wins over onlookers at Petersen Museum reveal

C* Corvette

As you might expect in hippy dippy California, Corvetters here aren’t much bothered by the changes coming to their favorite car. The new mid-engine C8 Corvette had its first public reveal on the west coast at a two-day Corvette cruise-in at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles last weekend, and judging by the crowd’s reaction, the LA faithful are willing to embrace change.

“It’s fantastic, a move forward,” said C6 owner Bob Mueller, from nearby Long Beach, as he snapped smartphone pics of the car. “It’s above my price range—I want to retire at some point—but I would buy it if I could.”

Wearing a name badged pinned to a t-shirt that read “Simi Valley Corvettes,” Steve Roberts of the nearby San Fernando Valley is from a Chevrolet family, his dad having sold and serviced Corvettes. He brought his 2014 crystal-red C7 Z51 convertible. “I’m definitely drawn to it,” he said. “They need to carry on the lineage. They’re talking about overhead cams, twin turbos, electrification—the potential of this car is over the moon.”

Judging from online comments, moving the engine behind the seats has not been universally popular among hardcore Corvette enthusiasts. Roberts said it takes time for people to get used to change. “When something changes, people are always against it. Look how all bent out of shape people got because the last one didn’t have round taillights.”

C8 Corvette
C8 panel

The Zora Duntov Tribute Weekend at the Petersen included a VIP reception, a road rally to the museum from the Art Center School of Design in Pasadena, where many Corvette designers went to school, and a panel that included current engineers and designers from the Corvette team. Josh Holder, the C8’s program engineering manager, said the team would talk a lot about former Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov. He told the crowd: “We wear these yellow wristbands that say, ‘What would Zora do?’”

Zora probably wouldn’t have made the car over two inches wider and five inches longer, says Jim Bindman, who is active in the Southern California Ferrari club as well as being the owner of a 2018 C7 convertible. “I don’t think it will fit in my garage now. The C7 just fits and it’s not a small car either.” Bindman thinks they made the C8 look too much like a Ferrari, whereas other mid-engine cars such as the Porsche Cayman and Audi R8 have their own distinctive styling. “They did it [moved the engine] to get performance, but the Corvette is a daily driver,” Bindman says. “I’m not sure they know who their customer is.” 

Michael and Karen Bianchino are two customers as well as two Chicago transplants to California who drove their 2003 C5 convertible to the event. Their only complaints about the C8 were the side scoops, which they feel stand out too much in black (buyers will be able to opt for body-color scoops), and the sweeping, button-speckled center-console divider.

“In the old Vettes the passenger is more a part of it,” said Michael. However, he applauded the extra legroom. “They asked us what we wanted and they really listened to us. What can you really be critical about?”