atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#1131: Corvette ZR1 comments

Both of these come from Jalopnik.

GM Paints Corvettes using robots.

Dealer wants $413,000 for a ZR1.

In the first link there is a video of the facility which paints the Corvette panels. Off the car, in the orientation which they'll be installed, much the same way one paints a Fiero if he wants it painted correctly.

I noticed that GM apparently can't afford important video equipment like tripods, though.

The finish quality of modern vehicles is not all that good thanks to EPA regulations. The paint has to be low-solvent, which dries quickly, leading to poor leveling and an "orange peel" appearance. I've seen this on all kinds of cars, from the cheap to the expensive, and it does not make for a very nice-looking paint job.

* * *

The second link--whoo! The Corvette ZR1 option package adds about $55,000 to the price of the car, so MSRP on a ZR1 Corvette is around $103,000--making it the most expensive car GM has ever sold, I think--and for that you get 638 horsepower, which is "supercar" territory.

For $103,000, that kind of performance is a steal. It used to be, if you wanted more than 500 HP, you needed to buy a Ferrari or something and it would cost a hell of a lot of money--a quarter million just to get started--and then pay out the wazoo for maintenance, insurance, etc, etc. (Okay? A tune-up on a Ferrari costs about a thousand freaking dollars--they're not exactly economical.)

But that second link references a note sent by someone who put a deposit down on one of these things, and who was told--by the dealer--that he would have to pay $413,000 for the Corvette if he wanted to buy it.

My response to that crap would have been to laugh in the guy's face. (Okay, "ear", since it was a phone call.) I would then have said, "Okay, now that you're finished joking around, I understand that MSRP on the car is $103,000, correct?" And if I was given that BS again about being charged four times the sticker price for the car, I would have then told the guy, "You know what? I've changed my mind. Please refund my deposit."

The guy had apparently bought 15 vehicles from this dealership over the years; it it was me, after they pulled that crap on me, I'd make a point of it to go into the place and speak to the guy in charge, explain that I had bought 15 cars from them over the years, and to add that because of their price-gouging bullshit they could rest assured that I would never, never, ever again bother them with my business.

There is no way in fucking hell I'd let a dealer get away with that shit.

The guy says he wouldn't mind paying a premium--a few thousand over MSRP--to get the car, and if you're planning to drop $103,000 on a car you're not going to care about a couple of percent of pure dealer profit. But much more than $5,000 or so is excessive; for a 400% markup they could kiss my ass.

I like the points made by guys in the comments, too, that "ZR1" doesn't mean the car will hold its value. While it's true that Corvettes hold their value better than most cars, they still depreciate, and the prices bottom out for a couple of decades before they start to appreciate again.

Commentor georgejetson says: "In 1997 I bought a used 1990 ZR-1 for $27k. Clean, original, 21k miles, practically like new. MSRP when new was about $60k; the original owner had paid more than twice that."

* * *

I'm not a fan of the Corvette. For one thing, the Fiero was killed off because GM didn't want to build a car that could compete with the Corvette--and if there was ever any car that GM made that could have done it, it was the Fiero.

If you hang around Fiero guys eventually you'll hear the stories. One guy in Heartland Fieros (the Fiero club in Iowa that I belonged to for a few years) is a serious Fiero history buff, to the point of collecting all sorts of documentation and planning a museum. He's been to GM a number of times to take measurements and photographs of prototypes and show cars and such.

He tells a story, once in a while, about the test car the Pontiac engineers were testing one fine day. Some GM muckity-mucks went by the test track to check out one of the then-new Corvettes; and they saw this Fiero roaring around the track like a race car, consistently outperforming the Corvette.

They told the Pontiac guys: "That car is to be crushed by close of business today."

The Fiero in question--I cannot recall what, exactly, it was. There are rumors that Pontiac had been testing an all-aluminum space frame for the Fiero, years before Honda did it with the NSX. Another rumor holds that the car had a turbocharged V6 engine.

What we do know for sure is that it was a production version--it could have been taken from the assembly line and modified--so it probably wasn't an alumimum space frame. "Turbo V6" is the story I've heard the most of, and seems the most likely, especially since--at the time--Buick's Grand National was the fastest all-stock American car money could buy.

The source of this story is none other than Hulki Aldikacti, the "father of the Fiero". I heard the definitive version of this story in 2004 IIRC, so I don't really remember what was special about this car. But whatever performance advantages the car had don't really matter, because the engineers who were at that test track valued their jobs: that car was crushed before they went home that night and no more Fieros were built like that.

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