2021 Chevrolet Corvette Joins The MotorTrend Fleet

Let us explain. As you probably know, the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette was our 2020 Car of the Year. As with every Of The Year winner, Chevrolet agreed to provide us with a Corvette on a one-year loan to evaluate how the winner holds up under heavy use. Why, then, more than a year after we crowned the Corvette, are just now introducing our 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Z51? It’s a long story.

Unsurprisingly, we weren’t the only ones smitten by the mid-engine Corvette. All y’all wanted one, too. And that’s where things went sideways. First, a United Autoworkers strike pushed the launch date back from December 2019 to February 2020. Fair enough, collective bargaining is important. Chevy finally got the plant up and running in late February as planned, only to shut it down again in late March when COVID-19 reached pandemic status. Two months went by before production restarted, and Chevrolet was understandably pressed to get cars into customer hands as fast as possible. That’s fair, too. So we waited.

And waited. Chevy had to extend the 2020 model year just to make good on all the preorders dealers had taken. Then it was fall, and our car was finally built and on its way. There’s a bad picture on my phone of it the day after it arrived in early October. I didn’t even get to drive it that day because I was in the middle of reviewing an Airstream trailer, and the ‘Vette don’t tow. I’d barely gotten the seat position saved before I had to drop it again to go judge Best Driver’s Car. Then there was the launch of the Bronco Sport, and on, and on.

Finally, in late October, I got to put some miles on it. It was great. I couldn’t believe my luck, getting a year with the mid-engine Corvette MT has been begging for since the ’60s, the car I helped break the news of in 2014.

A reckless cab driver put an end to that on November 11. I actually missed the call because I’m lame and was in bed by 10 p.m. Associate editor Nick Yekikian was going for a late-night cruise up Highway 1 in Santa Monica when a cabbie in a Prius decided to make an illegal U-turn from the right shoulder without looking. Quick reflexes, both Nick’s and the Corvette’s, turned a potential T-bone accident into a glancing blow. The Corvette struck the Prius right on the ‘Vette’s front corner, just below the passenger-side headlight, leaving a trail of damage down the side of the car. The Corvette won the fight, though; it took the front off the Prius.

Thankfully, everyone was unharmed, and the cabbie took responsibility for the crash. Still, it left us back at square one. While the insurance company mulled over totaling the car, Chevy graciously offered to get us a new one. Unfortunately for us, the C8 (insider speak for this, the eighth-generation Corvette) hadn’t gotten any less popular. The Chevy people figured they could get us a new one by March and, after moving a few mountains, got an identical car built and shipped to us in early February.

And I do mean identical. Meet our 2021 Corvette Z51, specced exactly the same as our short-lived 2020 Corvette, down to the last option. Coupe, 2LT trim level, Rapid Blue paint, Natural leather interior, just like before. It’s $66,200 in that configuration, but of course, there were options: the Z51 Performance package for $5,995, the separate Z51 performance suspension with electronically adjustable magnetic dampers for $1,895, the equally essential nose lift system for $1,995, and the $1,495 GT2 bucket seats for the inevitable track day. Chevy even made sure to spec the exact same exterior trim, from the $595 Edge Red brake calipers to the $550 black-painted composite rockers and the $100 door mirror caps painted Carbon Flash Metallic (black). Add $500 for the blue paint and a $1,095 destination charge, and it comes in at the same $80,420 as before.

Seriously, if not for the date stamp, you’d think that picture on my phone is of the same car.

Let’s try this again. We have a mid-engine sports car in our long-term fleet for the first time since the short-lived MT Lambo, and it’s not some six-figure European exotic. It’s an all-American, all-V-8 Chevrolet Corvette. It’s the Corvette the father of the car wanted to build nearly 70 years ago, the car we’ve been begging Chevy to build for seven decades, and it’s ours for a year. Let’s drive.

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