When it came time for Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter to convince General Motors execs that the eighth generation of the long-lasting sports car needed a mid-engine configuration, he had his work cut out for him. After all, since the primary Vette rolled off the road back in 1953, the engine has been up front. One bigwig, however, didn’t got to be swayed. “Several leaders needed tons of hand-holding and were non-believers,” Juechter tells Entrepreneur, “but I never had to convince Mark Reuss. He knew it had been the proper thing to try to to .”
Right from the get-go, GM’s president believed this radical change was necessary for the C8, because the next generation is understood . Placing the engine behind the driving force and ahead of the rear axle — which improves acceleration, braking and handling — is an engineering feat normally reserved for wildly expensive supercars from the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren. A mid-engine Corvette sends the message that America’s sub-six-figure sports car (the starting price are going to be under $60,000) is prepared to face wheel-to-wheel with the world’s best. supported the overwhelmingly positive response at its unveiling in Tustin, Calif., on Thursday evening, Reuss, Juechter and therefore the remainder of the team were on to something.
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As both a lifelong Corvette fan and longtime GM employee — he began his career there as a student intern in 1983 — Reuss is uniquely positioned to oversee the event of a vehicle many deem revolutionary. We spoke to him on the eve of the car’s divulge to find out how he found the arrogance to remake a legend, his message to doubters and why moving the engine to the center doesn’t make the C8 any less of a Corvette.
This is the primary mid-engine Corvette within the vehicle’s over 65-year history. How apprehensive were you about making such an enormous change to an American icon?
You’re always a touch nervous to mess successfully , especially with a legendary vehicle just like the Corvette. However, the present generation, the C7, had pushed the bounds of what might be through with that configuration — it’s absolutely the best. to require performance to subsequent level for our customers, we had to maneuver to mid-engine.
What gave you and your team the arrogance to form this change?
First was the arrogance in our Engineering, Racing and style team. This group lives and breathes Corvette, and that they are students of performance. once they said they were ready, I knew it had been time. Second, mid-engine has always been a part of Corvette’s destiny. we’ve explored mid-engine concepts dating back to the first CERV I from 1960. Corvette’s original chief engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov, famously advocated for mid-engine vehicles, but we would have liked to form sure we kept Corvette faithful its roots of attainable performance. Mid-engine has historically posed a challenge to the present mission; not so anymore. The time has come, today, and that we feel both Corvette traditionalists and potential new customers will embrace the change in layout.
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There must are — and still be — many naysayers, both internally and externally, who don’t think a Corvette should be mid-engined. How did you maintain your vision, and the way does one answer them?
Internally, I remind them that we don’t set the quality for Corvette; our customers do. Our job is to exceed those standards and remain faithful to the brand promise. This car does all of that and more. it’ll quiet the naysayers on each side of the wall quickly once they see it and, especially, once they drive it.
Tell us about your personal history with the Corvette.
Simply put, this car is that the reason I work on General Motors. within the mid-’60s, I spent many car trips hunched within the back of a Corvette riding with my dad. On Saturdays he would take me to figure at the Chevrolet engineering building, and that i made him promise to require me to the research labs to ascertain the new Corvette. Everything this car stands for — its presence, performance and heritage — raises the hair on the rear of my neck. most significantly , Corvette has always embodied the company’s resilient spirit by demonstrating what it means to win and be the simplest .
How would you describe the essence of a Corvette, and what steps did you create to take care of that spirit within the new generation?
No matter the configuration, Corvette has got to live up to its fundamentals: performance, functionality and attainability. No other car delivers on all of these points like Corvette does. Whether you’re on your daily commute, hitting the track or taking an extended weekend trip, the Corvette can roll in the hay all, then some. That’s what we’d like to create on. Corvette has always taken design cues from fighter jets, and this one is not any different. From the forward cabin to the driving force focused interior, it truly seems like a correct cockpit. These are a number of the key attributes that we wanted to create on.
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What are the most important changes within the C8?
The mid-engine layout is that the biggest change. This new layout enables better weight distribution, power to the bottom and acceleration. this may be the fastest Corvette ever, capable of zero to 60 in but three seconds — and that we didn’t compromise a thing to urge there. This new layout and its many performance attributes will deliver an elevated supercar experience. Our current C7 and people before it had a strong presence, but this new mid-engine eclipses anything we’ve wiped out the past. Our design and engineering teams did a superb job, working together to make a mid-engine vehicle that also seems like a Corvette, while providing even more performance and functionality. On the inside , nearly all the parts are hand-wrapped and stitched, and every one the ornamental trim and a spotlight to detail reflects the premium craftsmanship that was our mandate from the start of development.
You mentioned the planning was inspired by fighter jets. Corvettes were fashionable astronauts within the ’60s — would you say Chevy is connecting the vehicle back to its roots?
Every Corvette has been inspired by the aircraft of the age , and this new Corvette continues that tradition. Chevrolet’s design team checked out jet fighters as inspiration — the epitome of design and performance. Advancements in precision engineering, design and technology have combined to push the boundaries of propulsion and aerodynamics. These are traits that Corvette has always embodied. NASA and aviation have always inspired the designers and engineers that created every generation of Corvette.
With numerous competitors within the sports car space, how does one maintain an edge? How did you encourage your team to think differently when bringing this car to life?
If we remain faithful Corvette’s brand mission and deliver innovation and performance at an attainable price, we’ll maintain our advantage. I pushed the team to seek out new technologies, materials and solutions that improve the whole experience for the customer. Having a racing team really provides a plus , too. We learn tons on the track that then transfers over to the road .