You know that old saying, “Perception is reality?”
Nothing on earth epitomizes this more than the Chevrolet Corvette. GM’s supercar long ago evolved from a truck framed, fiberglass bodied, mullet mobile – which we die-hard fans totally dig – to arguably the best, no excuses sports car in the world at any price.
Best-in-class Corvettes are nothing new. In fact, its been twenty years since the C5 debuted with the LS engine. If you really want to nitpick, Dave McLellan’s C4 was the first really modern Corvette. Debuting in early 1983, every model since save for the upcoming mid-engine car, has been a spit-shine burnishing of that blueprint.
Regardless, in certain circles, the “Joe Dirt” perception still lingers with Corvette, especially with younger folks. In fact, as die-hard Corvette fans, we’re no strangers hearing that “a-ha!” moment when hipsters finally realize how good the current Corvette is.
Let’s take a look at three articles that hit the web last week to see how all-over-the-board Corvette perception is.
First off, an article from Torque News is a real doozy. Aside from it’s brazen ageism, it’s a text book example at what probably keeps GM’s marketing guys up all night, (i.e., not only how to educate younger folks about how good the current Corvette is, but to get them to even consider Chevy’s two-seater).
The author begins the article by stating he really doesn’t know much about Corvettes, but then launches into a polite, back-handed rant about past iterations of the Corvette and the “older gentleman” that drive them. Then, beginning at the C5, which again, was introduced two decades ago, he traces the evolution to today’s Corvette and how it has evolved into the killer machine it is now.
The author states, “When I was younger, I started noticing Corvettes, every time I looked at the person behind the wheel, I would be surprised to see an older gentleman driving. This constant must have really formed a mold in my mind, as I just started associating these cars with older men and not performance.
The idea had stuck with me for many years and sort of became a game. Perhaps my town was different than yours, but this fact helped form my opinions on these cars. Add to that, the performance of the C3 and C4 models was not all that impressive compared to other, more accessible, cars of their time.”
C3s and C4s were always among the fastest cars of their day. Old guys buy Corvettes – and Porsches, Jags, and Ferraris -because they usually cost six-figures. High-end sports cars will never sell to 25 year-olds, because they can’t afford them. Period.
Having said all that, the average age of new Corvette buyer us 63, (the average age of a Porsche 911 buyer is 61,) and I’m sure both companies would love to lower those numbers by 1o years.
The real question here is, what took this guy so long to get past his calcified perceptions and realize how insanely good the Corvette is?
Insanely good? Yes, keep reading.
Car and Driver named the new Corvette Grand Sport–along with Chevy stablemate Camaro – as two of their Ten Best for 2018, the second year in a row.
C&D says, “The Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport needs little introduction as a mega-performance bargain worthy of our 10 Best Cars list, and 2018 marks the second year in a row that the Grand Sport targa and convertible have made the cut.
From its Lightning Lap exploits to our current long-term test car, it is a track-day thriller and an unflinching ally on winding back roads. Factor in impressive civility at a price that massively undercuts any exotic of similar dynamic capability, and the Grand Sport earns its place again for being one of the best sports-car buys available.”
Even Detroit-hating Consumer Reports landed the Corvette on it’s “Most Satisfying Cars” list. The frumpy mag says, “The sharp-edged Corvette has abundant power from its 455hp, 6.2-liter V8, and an interior worthy of the price. A seven-speed manual is standard, with an eight-speed automatic optional. Drivers with a thirst for more power can opt for the 650hp Z06. The car’s all-aluminum construction optimizes weight savings and strength. Whether in coupe or convertible form, acceleration is blisteringly quick and handling is pinpoint.
With the adjustable driving modes, the car can be a fairly refined cruiser or track-ready race car. The seats deliver support and comfort. But you can’t ignore the low-slung cabin, which requires almost acrobatic skills to access; the vague manual shifter; and the omnipresent tire noise. The 460hp Grand Sport version adds a number of the Z06’s aerodynamic components.”
The real conundrum is this: why is Corvette perception lagging reality? Where have these young, hip, car aficionados been hiding? Why are they just now “getting it,” about Corvettes? Why are “older gentleman” hipper – and more open minded – than some of these hide-bound, rigid young folks?
Is it Chevrolet’s fault? What could they do to set the record straight regarding their iconic sports car?
Corvette Online reported about a rat-rod style Corvette and even though it was tongue-in-cheek, we got a big reaction from the peanut gallery.
We’d love to hear from you about all this. Let us know what marketing techniques you would employ to slay the ancient perceptions about Corvette. Evidently, building the best sports car in the world isn’t cutting it. We’re not sure that the best mid-engine car in the world will help either.
I’m sure the folks at Chevrolet would love to hear your antidote to all this. Fire away in the comments.