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The 2020 Corvette architecture was designed from the get-go with a convertible variant in mind; engineers claim the new convertible gives up nothing in terms of structural integrity or chassis performance. (Chevrolet)

Chevy reveals 2020 Corvette Stingray convertible, C8.R racer

A mid-engine Corvette was a long time coming, but Chevrolet doesn’t make the Corvette faithful wait long for the convertible version.

Reinforcing the Corvette’s long association with astronauts, Chevrolet unveiled the convertible version of its all-new, mid-engine-layout 2020 Corvette Stingray in Cape Canaveral this week. Executive chief engineer Tadge Juechter, underscoring the car’s no-compromises performance and comparatively affordable price, called it a “no-lose proposition” for enthusiasts considering the new Corvette but also desiring a more open-top experience. When it goes into production in the first quarter of 2020, the Corvette Stingray convertible will start at $67,495 – $7,500 more than the 2020 Stingray coupe, which was widely celebrated for its aggressive $59,995 base price.

Although called a convertible, there is no fabric to be seen: the 2020 Corvette Stingray convertible uses a folding-hardtop design in which the center roof section folds in two pieces and stores above the rear-mounted engine. From some angles the new Corvette convertible will be difficult to distinguish from the standard Stingray coupe, even with the roof open. The giveaway is the glass rear hatch on the coupe that exposes the engine to view. The convertible does without this glass cover, but uses an upright section of glass behind the driver flanked by pronounced buttresses. The bodywork covering the engine is solid, with a rear-opening section that more closely resembles a conventional trunk.

A one-button actuation causes the folding section to raise or lower in about 16 sec, said Josh Holder, program engineering manager for the 2020 Corvette Stingray convertible. That new glass windblocker behind the driver can be power-adjusted to any position, including open even when the roof is in place. The roof can be actuated at speeds up to 30 mph (48 km/h).

Little extra weight, revised airflow
Holder told SAE International that the Stingray convertible is approximately 77 lb. (35 kg) heavier than the conventional 2020 Stingray, but there is no additional stiffening required for the standard Corvette structure; he reminds that the conventional Stingray was designed to incorporate its own removable roof section. Holder said spring rates and magnetorheologic-damper tuning for the standard 2020 Corvette’s chassis are adjusted for the convertible to generate the same performance. The folding hardtop system uses six electric motors and was developed by sunroof and convertible specialist Webasto, which engineered the convertible top for the outgoing seventh-generation Corvette.

Apart from visual differences, Holder said perhaps the most meaningful change for the Stingray convertible is the incorporation of composite panels and heat shields that form the compartment for the folded top to protect it from excessive engine heat. And with the folded hardtop sitting atop the engine, the convertible uses revised engine-compartment cooling that directs airflow through the engine compartment in a different fashion than the standard Stingray. “The solution [to the stored roof pieces riding atop the engine] is airflow,” Holder told SAE.

Racer ready
Chevrolet also used the occasion to unveil the 2020 C8.R race car which will compete in the GTLM race series, beginning with the famous Rolex 24 in Daytona, Florida in January 2020. Chevrolet said competing in the GTLM endurance-racing series, which includes the famous Le Mans 24-hour race, has “helped push the development, performance and popularity of Corvette’s top-line performance cars on race tracks across the world.”

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