Chevrolet to reveal all-new mid-engined Corvette
Tustin, California - General Motors is getting ready to pull the covers off its all-new mid-engined Corvette in a splashy tribute to the iconic original.
The reveal will take place at a glitzy presentation in Orange County, at 8pm Pacific Daylight Time, which is 5am on Friday morning in South Africa - so if you're up that early, be sure to watch the live stream embedded at the bottom of this article.
Revved up to take on European sports cars such as the Porsche 911, the all-new model is codenamed C8 and will likely revive the Stingray nameplate.
Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell said the Corvette gives General Motors a sorely needed shot in the arm after a difficult year.
"A Corvette is not going to help pad margins the way a Silverado would," Caldwell said. "But from an image and excitement standpoint ... that halo effect the Corvette fills is unique."
The Chevy Silverado full-size pickup truck, a perennial best-seller, ranks among GM's most profitable vehicles.
Since 2013, GM has sold over 100 000 of the outgoing C7-model Corvettes in the US, according to Edmunds.
Bidding adieu to the front-engined configuration that has marked the famed two-seater since its appearance in 1953, GM has opted for a mid-engine architecture for better handling and weight distribution, the choice of many European sports carmakers.
Expected to cost bar below the starting price of a Porsche 911, the Corvette could attract a younger audience lured in recent years to high performance vehicles from Tesla and others.
The hangar where the petrol-powered Corvette is set to take the stage is less than 64km from Tesla's Southern California design centre, where Elon Musk unveiled a prototype of a new electric Roadster two years back - dubbed "the quickest car in the world" by the company.
Whether the Corvette can generate enough excitement to attract even the loyal buyers of the pricier European brands from Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, McLaren and Lotus - remains to be seen.
GM has teased the launch for months. In April, Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter and Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra drove a camouflaged C8 Corvette through New York's Times Square during rush hour in a high-profile tease.
Almost mythic in the American imagination, the car has been immortalised in television and film from "Route 66" and "Hot Rods to Hell" in the 1960s to "Corvette Summer" in 1978. Even Elvis drove the Corvette Stingray Racer in the 1967 film "Clambake."
Ahead of the evening launch inside a vast hangar, Corvette owners planned to mingle at a "Corvette Corral." One enthusiast set to attend, John Elegant, 72, said he has been waiting since his teenage years for a mid-engine Corvette. Over four years ago, he put down a deposit with a dealer for the C8.
The co-founder of www.midenginecorvetteforum.com, Elegant purchased his first Corvette, a canary yellow C7, in 1998 after putting his daughters through college.
"My wife turned to me and said, 'You waited 35 years, go get your Corvette.'"
Explaining the Corvette's lasting appeal, Elegant described it as "an American sports car."
"There are other brands that make really good muscle cars, like Mustang, but a Mustang is not a sports car. Sorry, Mustang lovers."Reuters