Vette: What inspired this C8 design?
TJ: Many of the people on the C7 design team were involved in developing the C8. The great thing about the C8 development is that it began while they were working on the C7. If they discovered limitations with the C7 architecture they would incorporate those new ideas into the next generation design. The development team kept a check list when this happened. This list was our guideline for the C8 development process, in other words how were we going to top ourselves? One of the things on that list was how the ZR1 pushed the limits of the front engine architecture, the team felt that the mid-engine design would offer a lot of new performance options.
Vette: What inspired the flat top steering wheel?
TJ: Well we had a flat bottom wheel for a while and the curved top did not do anything to improve visibility. You really drive the car from both sides of the steering wheel and this design feels very natural whether you are on the track or the street. We talked about squaring off the top so we could improve the view of our 12" display. To prove the concept, we built early prototypes and drove them around on a daily basis to prove that it would work and it did. The steering wheel paddles on the side are magnesium and they are wired directly to the transmission. When a driver commands a shift and instantly gets it.
Vette: How is the turn-in into a corner on this car compared to the C7?
TJ: It is lightening quick, we were really paranoid about it, too much mass in the rear causing a classic handling problem. We knew all of the bugaboos that other brands had to discover and correct over a period of many generations. This included the rear wheels breaking loose and causing oversteer or closed throttle snap that caused the real wheels to react and also create oversteer. We were always sensitive to the car's rear mass with the mid-engine placement. We had to do it right the first time. There were many little details we had to design into this chassis to correct that, but the driving experience is amazing. The car is very linear and it was a surprise to us how the frame architecture allowed us to reduce higher tire pressures and sticky compounds. We were able to back away from some of the extreme tire compounding we used in the previous generation. This has allowed us to equip this car with all-season tires. These tires do not have the chatter that the previous tire did and their temperature transition and performance is exceptional.
Vette: We have been asked the question why did you not keep building the amazing C7 and make this Corvette's halo car in the $160,000 range?
TJ: We thought about it for a while, but as the design of this car evolved we realized that it was so good we could offer it for $60,000. Our state of the art Bowling Green Production facility is fully capable of producing this new Corvette. It will be built with exceptional quality at this price point.
Vette: Congratulations Tadge!
Photography by Walt Thurn