CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — In the shadow of historic hardware with names like Saturn, Gemini, and Mercury, another famous name from the 1950’s appeared here in the Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex last week. There were roaring engines, too, though they wouldn’t be taking anyone to space today.
The new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette hardtop convertible is here, introduced in front of an assembled crowd of journalists, dealers, and more than a few astronauts.
The Corvette has a special place in the hearts of America’s space corps, after an enterprising local Chevrolet dealer offered sweetheart $1/year lease deals to astronauts on any Chevrolet of their choice — and naturally, many of them chose Corvettes. NASA was reportedly (and correctly) concerned that photos of the astronauts in their Corvettes would serve as an endorsement. And Chevrolet has certainly leaned into that.
More than fifty years later, the Corvette is still connected to the space program and we had a number of astronauts in attendance at the Kennedy Space Center reveal — and more than a few jokes about bringing back the $1/year lease deal. Given that few marketing schemes are still delivering decades after they were rolled out, we imagine there are some folks in Detroit giving serious thought to it.
But back to the cars.
The 2020 Corvette Stingray Convertible is the first hard-top convertible Corvette and starts at $67,495, exactly $7,500 more than the coupe. Even more impressive, the convertible keeps the exact same cargo capacity as the coupe, even with the top down: enough for two golf bags. This is a big deal for the Corvette crowd.
The Convertible Stingray has the same naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8, making 495 horserpower and 470 lb-ft of torque (when equipped with the performance exhaust). The top can go up or down in 16 seconds (actually faster, but that time includes the windows rolling up or down) — AND it can go up or down when you’re moving up to 30 mph. So, it’s no problem if you get surprised by a sudden afternoon thunderstorm.
It’s also stunningly gorgeous, and looks like a car that should cost three times as much. Even the astronauts were impressed. Production will start in the first quarter of 2020, coming to dealerships soon after.
Then we were surprised by another new Corvette. This one quite a bit louder. Alongside the development of the mid-engine car aimed at consumers, Chevy has also been working on the C8.R GTLM racing car.
The car — which normally runs the signature bright yellow of Corvette Racing — runs in races like the Twelve Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Rolex 24 at Daytona — the endurance racing Triple Crown, which Corvette captured last year.
Chevy and Corvette Racing said that the cars were designed side-by-side, with extensive tech going from street to the track and back again. Having a competitive race car is huge for Corvette, and it allows owners to point to the track and say “that’s my car out there.”
The Corvette C8.R will debut in January at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.