Some Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Corvette
Someone recently posed the question “what are the downsides to owning a Corvette?”
The answer is completely subjective. If you happened to ask a hundred Corvette owners that same question, then you’d probably find that most would have little to say on the subject..at least at first. No, its not a difficult question,,.but most Corvette owners would probably reply “there’s no downside at all!”
However, if we take a moment to remove the “rose-colored glasses of Corvette ownership” and we look objectively at some of the challenges that come with owning an example of America’s Favorite Sports Car, it doesn’t take long to begin developing a list of downsides after all. To be clear, we’re not here to discourage Corvette owners from driving their cars, or to discourage prospective owners from buying one. Instead, we are here to concede the point that there are some downsides to Corvette ownership that should be addressed if, for no other reason, than to prove that we’re objective when it comes to these cars.
Corvettes Are the Ultimate “Low Rider”
First, ask any non-Corvette automobile enthusiast what the biggest downside to a Corvette is, and the majority will readily reply that “the car sits too low!” They’re not entirely wrong, though there are also plenty of cars that sit just as low a Corvette, and some sit even lower. Also, there are good reasons why Corvettes hug the ground as they do. When you consider these reasons, the low-riding Corvette starts to make a lot of sense.
We recognize that most Corvettes do sit incredibly low, with the newer generations (C5, C6 and C7) sitting just a few inches (literally, like 3 to 3.5 inches) off the ground. Like any sports or race car, they sit as low and squat as they do to keep the car’s center of gravity as low as possible and to reduce its coefficient of drag. What does that mean? Simply put, it means that any car with a low coefficient of drag is less prone to air resistance and rapid deceleration due to drag. To think of it another way, the car slips thru the air like a hot knife thru butter!
The result? Your Corvette can produce exhilarating levels of acceleration and incredible top speeds. It can slice thru the air easily, holding its line on the road even as other, lesser cars around it begin to skid and squeal on sharp turns and aggressive corners. A Corvette will take most turns like it’s riding on rails and it can achieve top speeds that will far surpass anything that any stock Ford or Chrysler can muster…except maybe the new Ford GT, and let’s be honest, how many consumers can afford that half-million-dollar price tag?
Because Corvettes do sit so low, their front end routinely scrapes on speed bumps, curbs, etc. While many of the newer Corvettes are designed to ensure this abuse (the C6 Corvette owner’s manual even claims it is normal!), it does require the driver to remain a bit more vigilant when operating the car in certain driving situations. As for roads that haven’t been properly maintained? A single, misplaced pothole can cause serious damage to a Corvette whereas a conventional four-door sedan or full-size pickup truck might not even notice.
Corvettes Have Just Two Seats
Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? After all, you knew what you were getting into….and for many Corvette owners, it’s not a big deal at all.
However, if you are married AND have children (or grandchildren), then taking the car out for a ride becomes a bit more complex, especially if you’ve been encouraged to take the kids with you. At this point, you have to consider leaving the Corvette in the garage in deference to taking the family mini-van or else accept the reality that someone is going to get left behind. This problematic reality about the Corvette means that anyone with a family may want to consider this drawback before buying one of these amazing machines….at least until their kids are old enough to stay home alone.
The impractical nature of the Corvette has been a serious source of debate and disagreement between married couples for decades. While the Corvette may look good sitting in the driveway or out on the open road, it lacks any real practicality for anyone with a family bigger than two. Of course, the argument can also be made that plenty of individuals with kids own motorcycles, or other less practical vehicles…but because the Corvette is a far more expensive investment than just about any bike, it is worth giving some consideration to this purchase.
This downside alone may well be the primary reason that so many Corvette owners are of retirement age. They’ve finally gotten the occupancy of their house back to a level that matches the available seating in a Corvette!
Although Corvettes are still far more affordable than most European sports cars, it is important to remember that the Corvette is a performance automobile. As such, it has more expensive hardware under the hood. And while the newer-generation Corvettes have made considerable improvements in build quality and durability, they still break down from time to time. When they do, the cost of maintenance and repairs is MORE.
Just how much more you ask?
Consider this: An oil change on a C5/C6 Corvette performed by a reputable Chevrolet dealer costs between $75-$90.00. Compare this to most “conventional” automobiles and you discover that you pay nearly double for the oil change on your Corvette. The reason for this is pretty straight-forward. Corvettes require the use of synthetic oil, which costs considerably more than conventional motor oil. Additionally, the oil filter is more expensive too, though this is probably because its designed for the Corvette, which basically means it’s going to cost more.
Other maintenance items on Corvettes tend to be more expensive as well. For example, purchasing new tires for a Corvette requires buying Z-rated run-flat tires (assuming you are following manufacturers guidelines. The reason for this is that none of the newer Corvettes (C5- on) come with a spare tire. Z-rated run-flats simply allow you to keep driving on the tire when it loses pressure. It has reinforced sidewalls that keep the tire from collapsing, allowing you the ability to drive your Corvette to a dealership for service.
The downside of purchasing these types of tires is their price tag. New tires for these cars start at $200+ a piece and go up quickly from there. Keep in mind also that a $200 tire is probably not going to be a name brand tire with a known reputation. And even if you elect to purchase non-run-flat tires, as many Corvette owners choose to do because of the less-harsh ride less-obnoxious road noise they produce, you’re still going spend well over $1,000 on a set of four tires. It just comes with the territory.
Consider this though: How often will you actually drive your Corvette in a given year?
If you are like many Corvette owners, you will save driving your car for perfect weather days and store it for weeks (or even months) on end when the weather turns bad. If that’s the case, then the maintenance on your car should be very manageable year over year. Even the expensive oil changes will last a long time given those limited driving conditions and the prolonged durability of synthetic oil.
So after all this, are the downsides to Corvette ownership worth messing with? Should you consider something more practical and less expensive? Only you can answer that…but consider this – while NO car is perfect, Corvette’s are a great value for their money. They’re fast, sporty, and they handle like a dream, but they’re not so impractical that ownership is forever out of reach. Also, they’re surprisingly reliable, given the earlier stipulation that they are a sports car.
If you still have doubts, here’s what we can tell you:
Worried about sitting too low? Watch where you are going – you’ll figure out the rough spots on the roads that your frequent and you’ll be just fine!
Not enough seats? Have your prospective passengers draw straws and/or make the family take turns riding with you (trust us, they’ll enjoy every opportunity they get to go for a ride!)
Worried about maintenance costs? Do a little homework before buying your first (or next) Corvette to make sure it was properly taken care of, and you’ll likely end up with a machine that’s just a reliable as the family car – but infinitely more fun to drive!