When Chevrolet pulled the cover off of the C8 Corvette back in 2019, the sports car was almost unrecognizable when compared to the outgoing model. Gone was 60+ years of the Corvette’s traditional front-rear layout, now replaced by a thoroughly modern mid-engined chassis. Things were different in other ways too, like the long-standing manual gearbox being ditched for a fancy new dual-clutch unit. And while some of the sports car’s die-hard fans took issue with the adjustments, the C8 Corvette has helped shift the public perception of the iconic nameplate. Curious as to what impact this has had on the traditional Corvette customer base, we sat down with Chevrolet Marketing’s Tony Johnson during the reveal of the 2022 Corvette IMSA GTLM Championship Edition to discuss deep C8 details.
Not Your Grandpa’s Corvette
In the past, the Chevrolet Corvette has been seen as somewhat of an older man’s sports car. There are more than a few jokes floating around that highlight this brand association, whether they involve Hawaiian shirts or not. And while it is true that you’ll always see one parked up at the local golf course, the C8 Corvette has attracted a different kind of customer base. More specifically, a customer base that previously might not have been interested in the car at all.
“It’s definitely grown in a lot of perfect ways,” said Johnson in an interview with MC&T. “Higher household income, a younger buyer believe it or not, and a more diverse buyer. So we’ve expanded out to new markets that previous generations maybe hadn’t touched. I think the mid-engine nature and the premium interior have really positioned this as like a real supercar, not just an exotic supercar, and I think that’s what’s really leading to a lot of that. Something we’re really excited about is getting a hold of these new customers and introducing them to not just Corvette but Chevrolet as a whole.”
Johnson explained the C8 customer in front of the 2022 Corvette IMSA GTLM Championship Edition, which debuted on the Detroit Belle Isle race track ahead of the Grand Prix weekend. The 2022 Corvette Stingray sees other updates otherwise, such as tweaks to the engine, and new paint colors. The C8 Corvette Z06 is expected to come by at least the 2023 model year.
C8 Corvette: Hunting Exotics In More Ways Than One
The exotic looks and incredible performance from the C8 generation have understandably helped to attract a younger, richer, more diverse customer base that’s likely to continue with the 2022 Corvette model year and beyond.
That is exactly the sort of position an automaker wants to be in, unlike what’s going on with the Ford Mustang’s aging buyer. And while their customer is younger than before, Dodge still holds the title for having the youngest customer base on the market at the moment. They too have seen increases in wealth and diversity among their buyers, which only further bucks the notion that only Boomers enjoy American performance machines. And, even though SRT Challenger and Charger buyers do enjoy cross shopping the Corvette, we don’t think Dodge is getting the same sort of trade-in offers that are taking place at Chevy dealers at the moment.
“We’re seeing a lot of trade-ins coming in from Porsche, Ferrari, and some of the other exotic supercar makers, which again, I think this vehicle is primed to go after with its mid-engine layout and that premium interior,” said Johnson.
The Corvette has been compared to the likes of Porsche and Ferrari on magazine pages for literal decades. The performance on offer from America’s sports car was always enough to make the Europeans sweat, but the car’s didn’t necessarily attract the same sort of customers. Now though, the C8 is clearly changing things. Combine the performance with the affordability and reliability the Corvette name is associated with, and it makes sense why some folks are ready to buy American. I mean, wouldn’t you?