I walk into the 2020 Portland Auto Show and am immediately attracted to the Chevy display, based more on contrast than anything. There are, basically, two kinds of rides at the Chevy display that will attract any true gearhead: First, a whole lot of pickup trucks and the new mid-engine Corvette.
Disclosure: The following is sponsored by the Northwest Chevy Dealers. Although they provided me with travel accommodations to the Portland Auto Show, the views below are my own and not necessarily those of Gearhead Media LLC. The Northwest Chevy Dealers invited me to tour their display at the Portland Auto Show beginning on Thursday, February 20th, 2020 as part of a sponsored campaign. For more information on our editorial policies, please review our advertising guidelines.
First Time Seeing The C8 Corvette In Person
I live not all that far from Portland; and since I grew up around the area, and since the Northwest Chevy Dealers were basically asking if I wanted to come see the new mid-engine Corvette, it seemed like a worthwhile thing to do for a gearhead like me. A quick run up to see what’s new, in the flesh, so to speak. It was nice to get away from my computer for a day.
Seeing the display from Chevrolet, it’s readily apparent the bow tie crew is focused on two things, and who could blame them. First off, that new Corvette! Once you get past painting the thing orange (a very hard color to pull off for any car, but GM did), it’s surprising to actually be in the same space with it. When I got to thinking about it, I realized this was the first time I had actually seen the C8 Corvette in person.
I wrote extensively on the 2020 Corvette last year, pouring over every spec again and again. I worked at my computer wanting to make sure I did the car justice. This time, however, it was nice to just see it in person; for that alone, I was grateful for the invite from the Northwest Chevy Dealers.
Presence & Then Some
The new C8 Corvette was so rumored and hyped (then rumored and hyped some more), it’s easy to believe it will be disappointing. It’s not. The car has tons of presence. Tons. The first thing I noticed was its size. For some reason, I was expecting it to be bigger than it appears in photographs. Certain cars are like that. I remember when I first saw a Nissan GT-R in the wild, and was very taken by how big and hulking it seemed driving down Oak Street in San Francisco.
The C8 is not like that at all.
If anything, it’s right-sized. It seems no bigger or smaller than you would expect it to be. It also gives the impression of being densely packed with stuff; like everything – the lump of the engine and transaxle, the suspension bits, the cockpit – is not that far on the other side of the Corvette’s skin.
2020 Chevy Corvette: Styling & Design
The other noticeable thing is the styling of the C8. It is much more aggressive, with many more sharp angles and creases than photographs show. It has the air of being styled for the moment. Being styled to grab attention right now. It has the air of being overdone, which is fine for now, but it may not age well in the years to come.
Don’t get me wrong: I really like the C8 and I really, really appreciate GM finally getting off the dime and making a mid-engine Vette. And I also understand Chevy wants to make a very clear statement with the 2020 Corvette.
It’s too much of a departure for Chevy stylists to be subtle or downplay the car’s look. But in trying to hit all those goals (which for a mid-engine design were many), it makes for a car that even Corvette loyalists are approaching with cautious optimism. Let me put it this way: I bet the C9 will be fantastic.
Into The High Country
The Northwest Chevy Dealers also made it easy to get up close and personal with Chevy’s bread and butter: Trucks!
Great, big, capable trucks surrounded and flanked the Corvette at the Northwest Chevy Dealer’s display at the Portland Auto Show. This makes total sense, when you think about it. First off, Chevy sells tons of trucks and SUVs. Secondly, this is Portland and the Pacific Northwest. Outside of the city, this is logging and hunting and farming country. Some people want trucks, but out here people need trucks.
Ready To Work
At the Portland Auto Show, the Northwest Chevy Dealers are displaying a lot of trucks that fill that need. I poked around, looking over the 2020 Colorado and the new Silverado 1500 Trail Boss and LTZ trims. Each one seemed Oregonian in its nature: “I’m here to get the job done; get in and let’s get to work.”
I always expect to see a lot of Chevy trucks around where I live in farm country. They make too much sense as work trucks. They also make a ton of sense for those into boating around here (about one in three), and just as much sense for your “Let’s drive up this loggin’ road and do some fishin’!” types (also about one in three). Building contractors? That’s an easy sell. The retirees that tow humongous trailers from here down to, I dunno, Arizona for the winter? Same deal.
Joining The Community
It was nice to get away from my computer for a day and take a tour of the Chevy display at the Portland Auto Show. The Northwest Chevy dealers are going to sell a lot trucks, that I am certain. And they’ll probably sell a lot of the new Corvette too.
If you have questions on the Silverado or C8 Corvette, or just Chevy questions in general, you can interact with the Northwest Chevy Dealers on their Facebook page. They are a community of Chevy enthusiasts who like to talk about all things related to the bow tie.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.