• Mar 15, 2010

Last year was brutal for the auto industry, with sales down by 21 percent versus 2008. Sports cars were hit even harder, as many customers shied away from spending big dollars on what typically amounts to a second or third vehicle. The Chevrolet Corvette was no different, as America's sports car saw sales plummet 48 percent versus 2008 – the worst year for Vette sales in nearly 50 years. But was the drop in Corvette sales because of the economy, or its new pony car stablemate, the Camaro?

Wards Automotive
claims that web data shows the number one competitor to the Vette isn't something like the Nissan GT-R or Porsche 911 – it's the reborn Camaro. But who in their right mind would cross-shop a track-ready thoroughbred with near supercar performance and a relative bargain price tag against the heavier, less agile, less exclusive Camaro? Apparently a lot of people. The Camaro had a rather remarkable 2009, with 61,648 units sold in its first year back. The new Bowtie coupe even managed to beat out the Mustang the last seven months of the year and came within 5,000 sales of besting Ford's iconic steed despite the fact that the Camaro didn't go on sale until spring.

With the economy still on the rocks, we're thinking there may have been some customers who noticed that the Camaro has the same V8 engine as a base model Corvette, seating for four and a price of entry that starts some $18,000 lower than Chevy's halo car. The Camaro is also a fresh face for the 2010 model year after an eight-year hiatus from the market, while the C6 Vette is now on its sixth year of production, and despite frankly incredible variants like the Grand Sport, ZR1 and just-announced Z06 Carbon, Chevy's top dog is getting a little long-in-the-tooth.

Either way, it's hard to argue with the fact that having two high performance, rear-wheel-drive vehicles in the same showroom is going to mean that there will be some cross-shopping. We're not complaining, though, because choice is a good thing, especially when the options are as nice as these two.

[Source: Wards Automotive | Image: Joe Raedle/Getty]


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  • 73 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Which non-luxury sports car do you think has a better interior?"

      All of them.

      An 8-year old WRX has a nicer interior and better build-quality. A Miata seems like an exotic car compared to both the Camaro and Vette...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Get real guys! How many 30 somethings can actually afford a Corvette, or Porshe 911, or Nissan GTR, or Viper ? Old guys drive them because old guys can afford them. I had Corvette envy my whole life, and after my kids were out of college I got one. I am probably very typical.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think it is time for the Corvette to change completely. This statement I am going to make might be considered as blasphemy, but I think GM needs to stop with the garbage pushrod engine technology, and design a new DOHC V8 for the new Corvette model. Even if they do not want to, it will probably happen anyway due to fuel mileage ratings. The Corvette is in dire need of a new design to reduce the labels attached to the vehicle. Despite all the stereotypes surrounding the Corvette, they are true. Almost all Corvette owners I see are old, white men. If GM wants to justify the price for the Corvette they do not need to address or update the interior, the seats, or the cheap pushrod design, GM needs to change it completely and revamp the Corvette. By the way, I have no idea how the Camaro is selling so well, the car is garbage in both trims (RS/SS). If you want a domestic performance car go with the Mustang. I have driven it, and I am sure the new engines will make it even better than it already is. Go with the Mustang it is the best of the domestics, can actually compete with some of the foreign cars, and will blow the Camaro and Challenger out of the water once the new engines arrive.

      If you want a performance/sporty car that is actually worth your money buy a 370Z/G37, or BMW 335i, or Porsche Cayman, or Audi S4. And the best part about these vehicles is that they can be daily drivers for the spring and summer months. GM sucks, and their products are all garbage. The only car that GM ever had that was actually worthy of anything was the Buick Grand National and I hope they do not revive it because knowing GM they will just ruin it like they do with everything!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm sure it had NOTHING to do with the fact that the economy is down and Corvette starts at $48,900.

      And there's NO way that it could be the fact that the Corvette hasn't changed it's look in about 30 years.

      Or the fact that the Corvette isn't meant to be a high volume car, and isn't meant for everyone.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If I can get an awesome looking, top of the line Camaro with 400hp for $18,000 less than a mediocre looking, base model Covette with 430hp, then I'm going to get the Camaro.

        I get that they are different beasts, but I'm not someone who will be taking either car to the track anyway.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Eh,

        Your comments are all way off base.

        First off, for a person buying a sports car (most of which are for summer nights and weekends only) does look at an $18,000 variance when buying such a toy. A guy willing to shell out $50k two years ago may only be willing to shell out $32k today and hold on to the difference due to the economy.

        Second, if you're talking stupid stuff like free cars, you'd be a moron to choose Camaro over Corvette unless it's going to be your primary vehicle and you need 4 seats. Despite the hate for Corvette interiors shouted around here, they're still better than Camaro's. Let's also not forget that with the same power and a 600lb weight variance, Corvette will easily outrun Camaro in a straight line. Then if you want to actually turn, Corvette is simply one of the world's best in that department, while Camaro is slower around a road course than a Mustang with 100 less HP.

        Lastly, please enlighten us on what better cars your going to get at the ZR1's price point?

        The way I see it, the economy did hurt Corvette and didn't affect Camaro because there are a handfull of Camarophiles that were waiting for this model to be released. A few pony car shoppers that didn't want to wait for the 2011 Mustang probably also jumped on board and as said above, some potential Corvette buyers wanted a newer, cheaper car in a down economy. Now that they've all gotten theirs and the new Mustang 5.0L is coming, I'd predict Camaro sales to fall by quite a bit. It's fat, arguably ugly, slow around the twisties and it's real main competitor which has always been lighter and slightly less powerfull is still lighter but has no power defecit.
        • 4 Years Ago
        An $18,000 price difference has nothing to do with the economy. The economy may force someone to buy used instead of new, or high mpg instead of low mpg, but its not so bad that people have to spend 18k less on a car.

        Pretty sure it just has to do with the Camaro being new and cool while the Corvette is old and stale. If I had a choice between a free camaro or corvette I would hands down choose the camaro (not counting the ZR1). Im not a big fan of either but the regular corvette is just lame, the only corvette that is remotely attractive is the ZR1 but for that price there are MUCH better options.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I still agree with Farris. I would have thought this article would have some marketing data to back it up instead of "we're thinking there may have been some customers who noticed that..." Although, what can I expect from a blog entry title that ends in a question mark. I mean, whatever. This is the same blog that touted the Mustangs success over the Camaro in year long sales without mentioning the Camaro hadn't been on sale all year. Looks like they' do anything to piss on the Camaro's success, by "pointing" out that all Chevy is doing is losing sales on their halo car to it. Whatever
        • 4 Years Ago
        @katshot
        • 4 Years Ago
        @katshot

        Obviously if I was out to race Porches I never would consider the Camaro, but that's not what this blog post or my comment was about.

        It doesn't matter what these two vehicles are actually capable of because for 99% of the people who buy them, they are just vanity items that NEVER go on the track or race. Styling, horsepower and price are what that vast majority are looking at. Saving $18,000 is excellent compensation for sacrificing a degree of performance most will never use. Plus, people love saying that their Camaro has a "Corvette engine".
        • 4 Years Ago
        Farris is completely on the mark.

        The car busniess (especially this segment) is all about what's new. These are image cars. Most will never see a track.

        Corvettes have been all about old balding guys trying to show they still have their mojo. When the Corvette design looks a bit stale beside the Camaro which also sells for less it is a an obvious choice. The track serious guys will still buy the Corvette but the ones looking to improve their image would rather go with the new and hip looking Camaro. Especially since their budget that might have only allowed them to drive a lower trim line Corvette will allow them to drive a top dog Camaro and pocket a few dollars.

        On the other end of the spectrum the older women looking show they "still have it" are happy to buy the V6 model with automatic. For them it just has to "look" sporty. This is the same demographic that bought Tiburons and Passeos and have kept the base Mustang going.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Making11s:
        Again, I believe you're missing the point. I'm not arguing that some Corvette sales are being taken away buy the Camaro. I'm saying that the two cars are really completely different, and therefore, have no business being cross-shopped. Anyone who claims to have looked at the Corvette but bought the Camaro, really wasn't going to buy the Corvette anyway. They either didn't have the money for it, have no concept of how different the cars are, or as some have said here, really just want a flashy car to cruise around in, and really don't care about the nuts and bolts of the car they drive.
        The mere fact that you stated that Camaro owners like to be able to say that their car has a "Corvette engine" in it, says a lot. Bet you won't hear any Corvette owners pointing out to their friends that their car has a "Camaro engine" in it. There's far more prestige associated with Corvette, and to many, that alone is more than worth the extra money. Sorry, I simply don't support that the Camaro is in any way comparable to a Corvette.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "And there's NO way that it could be the fact that the Corvette hasn't changed it's look in about 30 years."

        That's funny because the Camaro is designed to look like it hasn't changed its look in about 30 years.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I gotta say, last year, when I was entering the market for a new car, I realized very quickly, that there simple wasn't much that satisfied my requirements.
      1. I wanted a sportscar, meaning one that was fast, and handled well.
      2. I wanted something with a V8
      3. I wanted a manual trans.
      4. I wanted a convertible.
      Unless I was willing to spend big-bucks, there was really only two cars that filled the bill:
      1. Covette
      2. GT500 Mustang

      The Mustang gets the nod for me mainly due to it having a back seat, and being a more comfortable car to drive on a daily basis. And, I really hated the placement of the shifter in the Corvette. Very uncomfortable IMO.
      So, bringing the Camaro into the mix surely has to bite into some of the Corvette and Mustang sales. It only makes sense to me. Just depends on the Corvette buyer since many would never consider a Camaro in lieu of a 'Vette I suspect. Not enough snob factor in the Camaro. Face it, there's a lot of Corvette owners that just buy them to parade around in them. Hell, that's the single biggest Issue I have against buying one. Damn shame too, because they're actually great cars but I don't feel like having to live-down the Corvette prejudice. Middle-aged, white guy, driving a Corvette.....you know. Rather keep a lower profile in my Cobra thank-you.
      • 4 Years Ago
      well my car has a Vette motor tuned for AFM, comfortable seating for 4 through 4 doors, and cost only $28K brand new :)
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, your car doesn't have that. Know how I know?


        I own one too.

        The Corvette has the 6.2L LS3. Our car (G8 GT) has the 6.0L L76. That's LS2 block, LS3 intake, L98 heads. LS motor, sure, Gen IV, sure, but not an LS3.

        You need a G8 GXP to have the LS3. And then you don't get the AFM. Because it's an LS3.


        The Camaro SS Auto has a 6.2L with AFM. That's the L99 motor, and that's more like an LS3 than our motor.





        But I digress...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Funny someone should mention the Camaro's doors being more solid. My only impression from sitting in the new Camaro was shutting the door, and its double slam sound that took me back to my '83 Camaro. I think they reverse engineered that same crappy weighty door, or maybe they pulled the engineer out of the retirement home to pull off the job.

      Camaro cannibalized Corvette for sure, and Bumble Bee didn't hurt Camaro catching "cool". And finally, in response to the supposition that cannibalizing is ok if its in the family, there's a reason you call it cannibalism. GM does not build these cars in the same plant. Not in the same state. Not even in the same country. The Camaro is built in Canada, and for every Camaro that poaches a Corvette sale, a worker in Bowling Green has less to do. GM still has to employ workers at both plants full time, but can never shift their staff to follow the sales.
      • 4 Years Ago
      In the real world, no one buys a Camaro because it is a great track car. Or the Corvette either. The buff magazines use professional racers to test cars and only a tiny handful of the purchasers will ever reach the numbers. Mostly because the numbers are not true test numbers anyway, they are "corrected" for temperature and "estimated" for speed runs. Or they use the Nuremburg Ring which almost no one can drive around without a lot of practice. They buy them because they are great poser cars. Face it , they are big, ugly, impossible to see out of and stupidly heavy and yet they still found almost 70,000 idiots to part with their money for a Camaro. Some of which were rental car companies... People but cars like this because they want a sporty car but do not want the bills that real sporty cars generate. I have a friend who is a Porsche guy and he just had a service done that was $2500- . He happily paid that and couldn't care less about the cost. I , on the other hand, would have stroke if I go t a bill like that. American cars are kind of like appliances - they are cheap and last a long time. Real sports cars are like girlfriends - they need constant maintenance and don't last all that long.

      No question that the Corvette is a cheap car that only really appeals to a much older crowd, check the SEMA demographics if you don't think so. I used to work at a company of about 6500 people in the Silicon Valley where more that 80% were under 40. To my knowledge there was only one person with a Corvette. The starting pay at that place was $140K for people right out of school. The Corvette is an old guy car, the Camaro a car for younger people who haven't the money for an M3, an S4 or a C63.

      Corvette sales are down because the baby boomers got wiped out in real estate and stock losses. When your demographic takes a hit, you take a hit.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Make a Corvette that looks like a Corvette, goes, turns, and stops like one, but leave out the electronic-everything and the higher-tech materials. Price it in the low-20s. Younger people would buy that car.

      Chevy is trying to milk too much profit from their 'halo' car, and crapping it up with junk that appeals to old, fat, white guys.

      I like the Corvette, but won't shop them until I start to feel older and more insecure. ;)
        • 4 Years Ago
        Given that a 350Z/370Z has a stripped down interior and still costs more than the low $20Ks, I think you're dreaming.

        I think you have reached the main problem with the Corvette though. That is some people want it to be fancier inside and be a luxury sports car and others want it to be a stripped down sports car. It can't be both.

        From the number of people who clearly know exactly what's wrong with it, GM's apparently lucky to sell a single copy.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree, but it still has to have some degree of luxury. The Camaro for example, has an interior that is just nice enough to make a person not complain. The real luxury needs to be handled by the XLR, too bad we won't have one anymore...
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Corvette's problem is that the typical customer is either a Chevrolet enthusiast or at minimum someone who is brand neutral to the bowtie brand. That is only only my personal impression, but I don't see Nissan GT-R or Porsche 911 customers cross-shopping Vettes. Nor are you going to find blue oval loyalists considering them (they'll just pretend the Shelby Mustang can compete). Therefore it's not unreasonable to expect many potential Corvette buyers would find the Camaro a satisfying alternative to Chevrolet's flagship sports car, even if it doesn't have the track credentials.
      • 4 Years Ago
      PLEASE!
      They're two totally different vehicles.
      GM/Chevrolet have to update the car and give it a high end interior as well.

      A great car that can be better!!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        They're different alright.... so different that the Camaro SS comes with the Corvette's base engine but costs $10K + less money and comes with 2 semi-usable back seats.

        On everything but performance, the SS has the base Vette beat. Its still the same small-block V8 Chevy experience for less money.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I love the comment:
        "On everything but performance, the SS has the base Vette beat."

        If the comparison were between minivans or postal carrier vehicles, the statement might be relevant. Considering both cars are only significant because of their performance, it just makes me laugh. I don't find the interior of either car to be class-competitive (in fact, I'd say they are both below average). With respect to exteriors, the Vette is boring to the point of inducing sleep, the Camaro is interesting perhaps if you're over the age of 50 (i.e., another moot point). Reliability is a non-issue on cars of this type and therefore irrelevant. Cost and performance are the only remaining factors, and I'd say in ratio those results are pretty damned close.
      gabanagirl0192
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Corvette is way too cheap anyways.
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