When it comes to buying test cars, it’s usually easy. Even when the car is "Hot, hot, hot!" according to the breathless salesperson, it’s usually no more than a few days before we can get our hands on the newest model. It may take some phone calls and emails, and waiting. And waiting. And waiting—for the dealer to get back to us, but the process isn’t too stressful. Usually.
Sometimes, though, the car truly is hot. And rather than being picky about equipment, color, and dealer location, when you stumble across a car that meets your needs, you just have to go all in and say, "I’ll take it!" No questions asked.
That’s what happened with our newest test car: The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. (Read our full Corvette Stingray first drive.)
We planned on buying a Z51 Stingray (starting at $53,800) with the seven-speed manual, 2LT package, and navigation. This would get us the 460-hp, 6.2-liter V8 with the dual-mode exhaust and a few options. While Chevrolet plans to build a 40/60-split of manual transmission cars to automatics for this generation, we still prefer to row our own gears with sports cars, and therefore sought a stick shift. That was Plan A.
Unfortunately, given the passionate Corvette fan base, the groundbreaking nature of this 7th-generation redesign, and the hype surrounding the Transformers-ready car, new ‘Vettes are few and far between. Then there is GM’s allocation process, which didn’t help. ‘Vette distribution is based on a few big volume dealers getting a lot of cars and the remaining small dealers fight over the scraps (and not every small dealer gets invited to the fight). None of the Connecticut dealers I spoke with could give me any info on delivery dates. Maybe six months from now. Maybe.
In order to get a timely road test completed before the snow falls, we had to start looking at Plan B: Grab what we could.
Last Wednesday, our senior engineer, Tom Mutchler, found one dealer in Connecticut with a car that somewhat matched our specs. I also looked as far south as New Jersey, to Kerbec Chevrolet, and spotted a car that might work. The two that we found in Rhode Island were sold while we tried to determine which to buy. And then we stumbled onto MacMulkin Chevrolet in New Hampshire, a store that battles it out with Kerbec for title of Biggest Corvette Dealer in America. And they must be big, as their unsold inventory was good but shrinking fast. A Torch Red Z51 Stingray was sold as I was talking to the salesman. Another red car looked good, but it lacked the coveted Z51 performance suspension package.
And then, there it was. Unsold. A Laguna Blue, Z51 Stingray. Loaded with the 3LT package, magnetic ride control, suede microfiber trim, dual-mode exhaust, two different tops, and a few other options. But, it’s a lot of money. Did we want to get such a generously equipped 3LT?
Frantic phone calls and e-mails to the dealer on Thursday secured the $73,260 car. No markup, but certainly no discount. What made the deal particularly enjoyable was the lack of dealer headaches we encountered. No $200 VIN etching done without our permission. No $600 dealer conveyance fee. MSRP and it was ours. Rather than chasing a rock-bottom price, we chased the car. And luckily found it.
Our senior engineer, Gabe Shenhar, and I hustled up to Nashua, N.H., on Friday morning to pick it up and zipped back early that afternoon. With colder weather fast approaching, we’re eager to get it up to the mandatory 2,000 break-in miles before testing. The good news is that we’re off to a great start.
With a car this powerful, engaging, and even exotic, we should be ready for true testing soon. Watch for updates, and be sure to check out our first drive. The staff here at the track has already lined up out the door, eager to pilot this fantastic "fiberglass" flyer.