In 1953, the first Corvette was certainly striking, but not exactly innovative in terms of technology. As a bit of an experiment at the time, Chevrolet used existing parts underneath, including a inline six cylinder engine and two-speed automatic transmission.
MORE: Chevrolet unveils convertible version of 2020 Corvette
Fast-forward to a new century, and the 2020 Vette brings much more to the table. A sleek aerodynamic design, nearly 500 horsepower from its mid-mounted V8, and a base price of under $60,000. Yes, that's a lot of money, but not compared to other mid-engine cars with similar performance.
Technology abounds as well, as you might expect. Things like Apple Car Play, Android Auto and clever touches like an inside rear-view mirror that can also show you a camera view of what's behind the car. And there's an optional system to raise up the front suspension when going over speed bumps or entering driveways at low speeds to avoid scraping the nose. If you'd like, using GPS, it will actually remember where those speed bumps and driveways are, and raise the car automatically in the future.
One feature you won't find in any 2020 Corvette is a conventional manual transmission, with a stick shift and a clutch pedal. That hasn't happened since way back in 1982, which was the last time the Corvette was only sold with automatic transmissions. Chevrolet says the standard eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transaxle in this new Corvette handily out-performs a manual.
Although during my test of the car I couldn't help noticing that there is room for a manual gear shift on the console and for a clutch pedal if Chevrolet should change its mind and start offering a manual at some point. It's not likely, but some potential buyers are hoping for a return of the manual in the future.
MORE: Iconic Chevy Suburban gets high-tech makeover
There is one big problem that the superstar Chevy of 2020 faced, or make that two of them. First, the lengthy United Auto Workers strike against GM last fall delayed initial production, as the first customers were supposed to get their cars in December. Then no sooner had they started building them early this year, when the factory had to be shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With tens of thousands of orders in hand, and only a small fraction of them delivered, it looked like 2020 was going to pass the Corvette by. But General Motors was finally able to get production going again. And good news for those who wanted to have the first year of this very special new Corvette: Chevrolet decided it's going to keep building 2020 models right up until November. That should allow them to fulfill most of the early orders. The 2021 car will be identical, but some enthusiasts really want to have the first year. For those who will end up having to settle for a 2021 model, Chevrolet has said that the base price of $58,900 (before options or destination) will remain.
This new Corvette an amazing car in so many ways, and an icon of Chevrolet and General Motors. It just had to face some obstacles in the path of it reinventing itself.