2020’s new Chevrolet Corvette, the C8, has undergone a complete makeover. Almost every piece of the sports car has been redesigned (with the exception of a few fasters because those still did their job just as well as they always have).
Updates include a brand-new structural space frame along with new steering, suspension and braking.
The designers kept the vehicle from gaining more than 70 pounds in the remodel. But while the total weight remained marginally the same, the weight distribution is another story.
The 500-pound V8 engine was moved back seven and a half feet, and the 300-pound transmission was moved almost three feet back. As a result, about 60 percent of the weight is now distributed to the rear wheels. This improves acceleration and traction and even helps shorten the C8’s stopping distance.
To help with added speed, the designers increased the diameter of the brake rotors in both the front and rear of the vehicle. Plus, for the first time in Corvette history, the entire bottom of the vehicle is flat, which improves aerodynamics.
To keep from adding weight, the designers put an extra emphasis on the ultralight components. Examples include:
- A hollow rear bumper beam created by drawing resin-soaked carbon fibers through a die.
- Fiberglass floor panels with aluminum stampings to support seating.
- A 0.16-inch-thick panel attached to the bottom of the spaceframe’s central tunnel made of fiberglass and carbon-fiber compression.
While the C7 and even earlier models of Corvettes had transverse buggy springs at the rear, this design facet was forgone on the C8. Instead, the single plastic rear spring was replaced with dual coil-over-damper units above the tires.
While there’s more room in the cockpit, the new spaceframe has far more frame than space. Its aluminum stampings, extrusions, castings and hydroform pieces are held together with fasteners and structural adhesives and anchored by Bedford Sixx castings, which use elaborate locking mechanisms to securely join the pieces of the frame.
One design issue makes repairs a little harder. Designers had a problem creating enough clearance between the front of the engine and the cockpit’s firewall, which means the engine must be dropped in order to change one of the accessory drive belts—a task that isn’t ordinarily that difficult (though hopefully shouldn’t be needed frequently).
Every model of Corvette is unique, with its own character, voice and feel. Which is your favorite? We discuss the ups and downs across generations here.
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