While waiting for the unveiling of the all-new mid-engined Corvette C8, we decided to see what would happen if we rang a few dealers here in Australia and tried to buy one.
The short version: a lot of dealers are pulling numbers out of thin air. Inspect what they’re saying a little more closely, however, and some intriguing details pop out at you.
One HSV dealer in Victoria signed off our tentative request with the cheery reminder that “I would say just wait for Bathurst”, hinting that we can expect to see the first cars in Australia by October. Full production is confirmed to start from the Bowling Green, Kentucky plant from 'late 2019' so let's keep 'em crossed for the Great Race.
It looks to be worth waiting for. The C8 will be powered by a 6.2-litre small block V-8 LT2 engine good for 369kW and 637Nm when equipped with the performance exhaust. That's a fair whack for an entry-level model.
Many dealers were willing to take orders, despite not knowing the price. We were quoted prices from $170,000 to $280,000 for the Corvette, but it appears that there’s still a bit of anxiety over vehicle allocations.
“I did get notification the other day from an outside source that we may be seeing one or two vehicles in Australia. Dealers are going to be very limited on what they can get hold of. It’ll be first in, best dressed on who puts an order in. It will be subject to pricing at the time,” said one.
“Holden are saying they are only going to give them to limited dealers. Some people have said, ‘You can’t do that. You’ve got to give it to all dealers because we’re all franchises and we can’t start splitting one on the other,” he continued.
“Are you wanting to put an order in and be locked in for one of the cars?”
We asked how much the deposit would be and he mentioned a sum of $2000.
“The first person who has a deposit down on one will be the first person contacted. We’ll be saying to them, ‘Okay, this is the price’, do they want to go ahead or not? And if they say no, we’ll just refund the deposit and it’ll be that simple.”
One dealer even poured cold water on the much-reported fact that the car would be factory built in right-hand drive. He mentioned that he expected to see stock in late 2020 before dropping the zinger that “the [right-hand drive] conversion will be done by HSV”.
Dave Buttner, Chairman and Managing Director of Holden confirmed today that “The news that Corvette will now be built in right-hand-drive for the first time ever – and will be exported to Australia – is hugely exciting for our team at Holden and any Australian who loves high performance cars." So RHD from the factory then.
In other words, if Holden dealers do have concrete facts on the Corvette C8 ahead of launch, they’re playing them pretty close to their chests.