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2020 Corvette Convertible: Clever Design and Engineering

Yes, the very first Corvette (1953) was a convertible. So why not the C8?
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2020 Corvette Convertible

Look closely and you’ll see that is a two-piece hardtop. Within a matter of seconds it can be retracted and stored under the tonneau cover. (Images: Chevrolet)

Who knew? Although the 2020 Corvette—the first midengined ‘Vette that shocked the automotive world and all of those around it, especially as it was announced with a starting price of $59,995—was introduced in mid-July as a coupe, when the hardtop Corvette convertible was introduced last night (at Cape Canaveral, as this is arguably the Official Vehicle of Those With the Right Stuff) it was revealed that it was engineered to be a convertible from the get-go.

Topless but strong. Of course, removing the top from a vehicle tends to make it less structurally rigid. But the hardtop convertible uses the same tunnel main structure as the coupe—which consists of six high-pressure diecast aluminum components (known by those in the know as the “Bedford Six,” as they are manufactured at GM Powertrain in Bedford, Indiana, which has diecasting skills and capabilities—so it gives nothing up in that department. And the engineering team did a bit of tweaking to the springs and dampers to make sure the chassis performance is extremely close to the coupe’s.

2020 Corvette Convertible

Top up. . .

2020 Corvette Convertible

. . .top down

Fast, hot & controlled. The convertible features a two-piece hardtop that is powered by six electric motors that precisely index the top under a sheet-molded composite tonneau cover, where there is a composite container to accommodate it. The top can be activated at up to 30 mph. It takes as little as 16 seconds for a complete retraction.

Realize that as the 495-hp, 6.2-liter, small-block V8 engine is in that immediate vicinity, there are heat shields in place to protect the top.

In addition to which, the tonneau has a vent for engine cooling.

2020 Corvette Convertible

Could make you feel like an astronaut.

Back to those folks who fly. There are some differences between the coupe and the convertible, as in not having the engine on display in the convertible (you’ve got to put that storage container somewhere) and the backlight is vertical (and it can be retracted whether the top is up or down). The designers added fighter-aircraft-style nacelles on the tonneau cover, which provide some additional aerodynamic enhancements, while also just making the Corvette look cool (and presumably those who aren’t astronauts who drive it, too).

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