Why We Need the Corvette — Now More Than Ever

As America grapples with the fear and uncertainty thrust upon it by the coronavirus pandemic, and as our economic outlook gets bleaker by the day because of it…

I want to take a moment to focus on something that should make us feel powerful, instead of powerless — something that I think singularly embodies how great we can be as a nation.

Naturally, I’m talking about the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, the most ass-kicking incarnation yet of “America’s Sports Car.”

Back in late February of this year, I was all set to write a piece about this car for your reading pleasure. I even drove two hours to see and photograph this beast in the flesh at the Philadelphia Auto Show…

Then this damned coronavirus came along and shot my plans to hell and gone.

However, after two months of COVID craziness everywhere I look, I realize that now is the perfect time to talk about this car. Not just to take our minds off the killer pandemic that’s monopolized our thinking for weeks on end…

But because of what this glorious new Corvette truly means for America in the midst of the coronavirus crisis and beyond — plus how this deadly disease outbreak may actually help ensure this car’s survival for generations to come.

A ‘Vette even Greta Thunberg could love

First, let’s just geek out a little on the specs of this car. If you’re a gear-head, you’ll understand and appreciate this stuff on its own merits — if not, it’ll become clear to you why these numbers are relevant to the bigger picture a bit later in this article.

The 2020 C8 model is the first-ever mid-engine Corvette. And that critical change in configuration allows it to hit 60mph in 2.9 seconds and cover a quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds with a naturally aspirated (meaning not turbo- or super-charged) V8 engine of less than 500 horsepower. As high-performance cars go, those are amazing acceleration numbers for such a modest horsepower figure.

For some context on this point, the 2020 Z51 ‘Vette is quicker 0-60 than the brutal 755-hp 2019 Corvette ZR1 — despite being nearly the same weight. That means it’s faster off the line with 34% fewer ponies. That’s one of the key advantages of a mid-engine design: More power to the ground…

Another advantage is excellent handling, when driven properly. In racing trim, the C8 is capable of holding its own against the greatest cars in the world — as proven by its respectable fourth place finish in the grueling Rolex 24-hour race in Daytona in January, without a single mechanical problem.

And it’s all coming from a vehicle platform that delivers 27 mpg highway. That’s 7.5% higher than the average fuel economy of all new vehicles for sale in America, according to the EPA’s latest confirmed annual numbers. It’s also the same highway mileage as a Subaru WRX 4-door performance sedan, but with nearly 85% more horsepower (and 1,000% more cachet, attitude, and sex appeal).

The overarching point of all this gear-geekery is simple: When I look at the gorgeous new Chevrolet Corvette C8…

I see rolling proof that American design, innovation and production can hang with anything in the world

The base price of the 2020 ‘Vette is only $58,900. And even loaded to the gills, it’s still only around $78,000.

When you compare this to other mid-engine street-legal supercars like the Audi R8 ($172,000), McClaren 570 GT ($195,000), and Ferrari 488GTB ($266,000), the new ‘Vette’s incredible bang-for-the-buck superiority becomes absurdly obvious.

And remember, this car is made on American soil, by unionized American workers. Also note that unlike previous Corvettes — which tended to share a lot of parts from one generation to the next — the new C8 is almost entirely from-scratch new.

My point, again, is that the USA is still capable of inspired manufacturing excellence without excessive cost. We just don’t do it very often anymore. That’s because, as I laid out in another recent article

China has spoiled us into not making our own stuff by manipulating their currency, subsidizing their manufacturing sectors, and spewing industrial pollution into the environment by the millions of tons to keep their goods artificially cheap. They’ve also benefited from the industry-hating American media, environmental activist groups, and pro-China politicians of both parties in Washington.

To put a little flesh on those bones, in 1977, not long before we signed our first bilateral trade agreement with China, manufacturing represented 21.6% of the U.S. GDP. Today it’s only 11%. Other “producer” industries like mining, ag, etc. tallied up to 4.6% of GDP in ‘77. Today it’s less than 2.2%…

Meanwhile, the sectors that include finance, insurance, real estate, renting/leasing, professional and business services, healthcare, educational services, and social services have ballooned from 25.6% of GDP in 1977 to 41.5% today.

The gross effect of this extreme shift has been to create national dependency and erode America’s hegemony. Not to mention outsourcing much of our pollution to an unaccountable Communist quasi-dictatorship that creates three times as much of it as we would’ve by manufacturing the same stuff here.

The net effect of 40-odd years worth of these shenanigans is that Americans have no true idea what tangible things really cost in a fair, free market anymore, because it’s been so long since we’ve actually operated in one.

But I believe things like the new Corvette — things of exceptional value created by can-do American passion, ingenuity, and national pride — can help us break this myopic cycle. They’ll do it by reminding us that we can still take a great idea and make it real, from soup to nuts, in a competitive, cost-effective way…

And there’s never been a more important time to have that ability than right now.

How the coronavirus could spur a U.S. manufacturing renaissance (if ventriloquist dummy Biden doesn’t stop it)

Think about what the coronavirus is doing to our nation, beyond the disastrous health effects. It’s creating a new level of awareness of our country’s weaknesses, vulnerabilities, dependencies, and blind spots, wouldn’t you say?

I can feel this mass awareness growing all around me, every day, across party lines.

I think we’re all starting to realize that we’ve got to make some big changes, or we’re going to end up helpless and beholden to the rest of the world (mainly China) for the everyday things we need in times of crisis OR plenty. If that happens, the only real bargaining power we’ll have will be our prodigious ability to consume. Either that, or our prodigious supply of fearful weapons of war.

Neither of those is a particularly good look for an enlightened democracy, or a position of particular strength from which to negotiate fair trade deals. Under those circumstances, China would take progressively greater advantage of us — and get its hooks deeper and deeper into our infrastructure, technology, and finances with every passing year, until we really do become “Chimerica.”

Coronavirus has lit the fuse on the mass awareness of this problem, sure enough…

The question is: Who do you think has what it takes to right this ship of state, and put it on the correct course?

I’ve got my reservations about president Trump, to be sure. But I don’t know if Joe Biden is the best person for that job, either. Yes, the UAW — the ones who build the new 2020 Corvette — has endorsed him for president…

And Biden is on record as a vocal supporter of the controversial bailout of domestic automakers GM and Chrysler after the 2008 financial crisis (a joint undertaking by both Bush and Obama, if you’ll recall).

But Biden’s actual long-term political record is decidedly pro-China at the expense of American factory workers, his recent tough talk notwithstanding. Beyond that, he’s now clearly the intellectual shell of his younger, quick-witted self…

And that could set him up to be little more than a ventriloquist dummy ultra-liberal special interests use to push their radical green and anti-capitalist agendas.

I don’t know about you, but that scares the hell out of me, on more than just the China and domestic manufacturing fronts.

Bottom line: For either Trump or Biden — or some other candidate yet to be revealed — to “Make America Make Again,” it’ll take three main things:

1) A tough-minded rebalancing of US/China trade policies, even to the point of engaging protectionist or isolationist measures, if necessary

2) A pro-manufacturing domestic policy, including freezes or rollbacks of certain needlessly punitive regulations

3) A long-term, cross-partisan political platform that’s dedicated to American self-sufficiency in times of feast or famine

If we can put these things in place, and keep them there for the next 20 years…

We can undo the damage of the last 40 years — and get our nation back on solid footing again, ready for whatever occurs.

As a fringe benefit, we can also ensure that the mighty Corvette will always roll on American roads, a beacon of manufacturing leadership for all the world to see…

If they don’t blink as it flies by at 180 miles an hour, that is.

Acceleratingly Yours,

Jim Amrhein

Jim Amrhein
Freedoms Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder

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Jim Amrhein

Just like he was 15 years ago, when first he sullied the pages of the original Whiskey & Gunpowder e-Letter and various other forums, Jim is still ornery, opinionated, politically incorrect, and shamelessly patriotic. He’s also more convinced than ever before that government can’t do much of anything right — except expand in scope and...

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