America’s Exotic Car

The Corvette used to be America’s sports car. It will soon be America’s exotic car.

Something gained – maybe something lost.

The next one – on deck for 2019 – will apparently be mid-engined, exotic in itself and certainly by Corvette-historic standards. The pushrod/two valve V8 will still be there, of course – one assumes – but beyond that and the name, what else will this Corvette have in common with all the ones that came before?

Very little.

Probably this will also include the car’s price.

Why are the most advertised Gold and Silver coins NOT the best way to invest?

It is already high. Not yet quite exotic (six figures being the watermark) but. . . . getting there. The current car’s base price – $55,400 – is still a steal compared to what out-of-the-closet exotics go for (and the Corvette’s performance is actually better than a number of exotics) but it’s no longer just a bit of stretch more than it would have been back in the ’70s or ’80s, even, to get into one vs. getting into a loaded Z28, say.

In 1977 – 40 years ago – the base price of a new Corvette was $$7,768 ($30,765 in today’s money). A brand-new Z28, meanwhile, stickered for $5,170 ($20,475) that same year. The difference in dollars – if not percentages – wasn’t that forbidding.

Only about $2,000 (in 1977 money). If you could afford a new Z28, you could almost afford a new Corvette. It might take some saving, some crimping . . .  but, realistic.

Doable.

Today, 2017, a new Camaro SS (the latter-day equivalent of what the Z28 used to be, back in the ’70s) starts at $36,905 – about six thousand dollars more in real (inflation-adjusted) dollars than a ’77 Corvette.

Granted, the ’17 SS has literally more than twice the power (a base ’77 Corvette with the standard L-48 350 packed all of 180 hp; the new SS has 420) and it has orders of magnitude superior brakes, wheels, and tires, stereo and amenities generally.

Still, the fact remains: The new SS is now at the same economic level that the Corvette used to occupy. And the current Corvette is at a level occupied by . . . exotics. On the lower end of the scale, perhaps.

But no less so because of that.

The guy – and it is almost always a guy – who can afford a new SS probably can’t afford a new Corvette – which (like the Camaro) costs a lot more than a Corvette used to cost.

It’s already a big bump up from the cost of a ’77 Z28 to the cost of an ’17 SS – and it’s another $20k jump from There to Here. Not easily done – and probably not by the same guy.

It will be a different guy.

The next Corvette – the mid-engined one on deck for 2019 – makes this shifting marketing strategy explicit. Chevy is going full monte, whole hog.

Exotic layout. . .  probably exotic in price.

A new kind of buyer is being courted. The people buying Corvettes today are not the same kinds of people who bought Corvettes back in ’77. For openers, they do not a wrench. They pay others to. They are upmarket people. Ferrari and Porsche people.

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