When it comes to dream cars, the Corvette and the Shelby GT500 are going to be on a lot of enthusiast’s lists. For 2020, the Corvette is receiving a major update and the GT500 is being produced for the first time in the S550 generation. It’s an exciting time if you’re getting ready to buy the car of your dreams. But just in case your garage isn’t big enough for both, you may be wondering how they stack up against each other.
Honestly, they barely do. The Corvette and Shelby GT500 are both dream cars, but for very different reasons. Both are performance-oriented and loaded with clever details that harken back to their days as ‘60s drag racers while also incorporating modern conveniences.
That’s essentially where the similarities end. The differences require more time to explain.
Shelby GT500 vs Corvette Exterior
Comparing the 2020 Shelby GT500 and new 2020 Corvette Stingray is almost apples to oranges now that the C8 is a mid-engined sports car. While the Mustang still retains that old-school muscle car look thanks to it’s more traditional front-engine, rear-wheel drive platform, the Corvette takes on a much more European, exotic look due to the new engine location.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though - it’s simply different!
Starting at the front fascia, aerodynamics are going to play a large role in how these cars perform at the top end. Despite the vastly different horsepower numbers (until GM launches the Z06 and/or ZR1 variants), the C8 will most definitely be a contender at higher speeds due to the fact there’s no need for an engine under the hood anymore. This means the front fascia can be much lower to the ground to help out with aerodynamics.
Don’t get us wrong, Ford Performance came out and said that the new GT500 is the most aerodynamic Mustang ever produced with cooling in mind for that monster Predator V8 under the hood. However, you still can’t get around the fact Ford had to accommodate an engine in front of the driver, where GM did not.
The side profile of the exotic-looking C8 involves aggressive black scoops that help feed air to the engine with a wide-looking rear stance. On the other hand, the Shelby GT500 retains that muscle car look that we all know and love. The new C8 Corvette has one heck of an exotic look to it, even if you’re only looking at the silhouette. We do have to admit, it is pretty cool that the Corvette still retains its ability to remove the roof to go cruising. We are, however, still curious how a convertible option will work with the mid-engine design -- there isn’t much room back there.
The rear is perhaps the area where we most dislike the look of the C8. Our biggest gripe is the location of the exhaust tips. Since the C5, Corvettes have always had that signature center-exit exhaust. It’s part of what made them Corvettes! If we were to guess, there were likely some packaging reasons as to why the C8 isn’t going to continue carrying that look through to the next generation. The taillights look very similar to the Camaro, which isn’t terrible, but it also isn’t very unique either.
For the GT500, depending on if you get the Carbon Fiber Track Package or not, you could end up with a very large Carbon Fiber wing. This creates mass amounts of downforce to help keep the rear end planted during high-speed cornering. The GT500 also includes large quad-tip exhaust unique to the Shelby and those signature tri-bar taillights.
Shelby GT500 vs Corvette Interior
The GT500 and Corvette are perhaps even more different on the inside than they are on the outside. Part of that is due to engine placement. It’s mid-engined design means that the Corvette has to think outside of the box when it comes to space and luggage.
Perhaps one of the biggest details, the Corvette will not have a rear-seat. The GT500 does…but considering how excited people have been about the rear-seat delete option we’re guessing that’s going to be a popular choice. There isn’t going to be a lot of space behind the front two seats at all in the Corvette because of the engine placement. But in all likelihood, you care more about what’s going on from the driver’s seat position.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette Interior Climate Control Buttons
The GT500 is luxe, but familiar. The most unusual thing about it is the shift knob, located on the center console. The Corvette has definitely borrowed some interior cues from supercars. There are entire rows of buttons. Though it’s a lot to take in at first glance, it does speak to how customizable Chevy wants their driving experience to be.
Both the GT500 and Corvette have the features you’d expect on a modern car; you can easily stream music from your iPhone via Apple CarPlay, or from your Android via Android Auto. Both the Corvette and the GT500 have an available sound system upgrade that will supply your vehicle with a more substantive audio system. The Corvette’s is supplied by Bose, the GT500’s by Bang and Olufsen.
Even the base-level Corvette comes with a ten-speaker Bose system though, you’re really just getting additional speakers with sound upgrades.
"...it’s all about the driver"
This is what it’s all about. Both of these vehicles are designed with the understanding that it’s all about the driver, and you can only drive as long as you can stand to be sitting. The Corvette comes with an impressive selection of three seats depending on what trim level you select. The base-level comes with what’s called “Mulan Leather” and is 8-way power adjustable. The second trim level adds power lumbar and heated seats. The top of the line trim level turns the Corvette into a leather cocoon. The seats are Napa leather, the interior is leather-wrapped, the lower doors are, and the upper trim is suede wrapped.
The GT500 is no slouch when it comes to supplying its drivers with a comfortable experience though. The base seats are leather-trimmed with Miko suede. The base GT500 is only six-way adjustable, but it does come with power lumbar. Upgrading to the Carbon Fiber Track Pack will replace those seats with RECARO leather-trimmed ones. Behind your steering wheel, both the Corvette and the GT500 have an impressive LCD instrument display. Of course, if you upgrade the trim package of the Corvette, you also get a head-up display.
The infotainment screen on both the Corvette and the GT500 is generous, but while the GT500s is displayed in the standard dash location, the Corvette’s is a little more prominent.
Ultimately, these are both vehicles that are designed to be incredibly comfortable to exactly one person, the driver and in that endeavor they have offered a plethora of options and adjustments. Even on the interior though, it’s very apparent that the Corvette is meant to be a luxury car while the Shelby is about muscle.
Shelby GT500 vs Corvette Engine & Performance
Performance is probably the first topic of conversation when it comes to pitting the new GT500 against the C8 Corvette. Not necessarily horsepower, either. Sheer capability. The team at Ford Performance did an amazing job taking the S550 platform (developed pre-2015) and maximizing it to handle 760 horsepower not only in a straight line, but also on track.
Enter C8 Corvette Stingray. This car has an entirely new platform to maximize everything thrown at it. Not only is it light, but its center of gravity and weight distribution is much better balanced than the GT500. This Stingray may only have 490 horsepower in comparison to the Shelby GT500’s 760 horsepower, but there’s no doubt that the C8’s mid-engined platform can certainly handle much more.
Speculatively, we will likely see a Z06, and perhaps ZR1, variant in the coming year. If the Z06 had 650 horsepower on the C7, and 755 horsepower on the ZR1, the opportunities are endless. Chevrolet’s performance division came out a few years back and said that they’ve maximized everything they could out of the front-engined C7 platform. And that’s where the mid-engined rumors started. Fast forward to now and the C8 features this brand new platform that can likely handle even more power than the C7. Only time will tell!
On the other hand, the Shelby GT500 is here today and all 760 horses under the hood are begging to be unleashed. With a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, GT500-specific MagneRide calibration, and massive 16.5” six-piston Brembo brakes up front, the Shelby GT500 will likely put down an incredibly impressive time around any road course thrown at it. It’s only when GM starts upping the power on the C8 platform, will we see a grand battle.
2020 Shelby GT500 vs 2020 Chevrolet Corvette: Quick Stats
|Stat||2020 Shelby GT500||2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
||TBD, “Mid-3-second range”
||< 3.0 Seconds
|Horsepower + Engine
||760 hp, supercharged 5.2 liter V8
||490 hp, naturally aspirated 6.2 liter V8
||7-speed Dual-Clutch Automatic
||8-speed Dual-Clutch Automatic
||Length: 190.2 in
Height: 53.8 in (Track)
Width: 81.9 in
||4,225 lbs (approx.)
||7,400 RPM (est)
|Fuel Tank Capacity
||180 mph (governor limited)
Shelby GT500 vs Corvette Suspension
Both the GT500 and the Corvette come with MagneRide. For the GT500 it’s standard equipment while you’ll need to purchase the Z51 package for the Corvette.
Selectable traction modes allow for a degree of customizability that’s crucial considering that both vehicles eliminated their manual options in favor of dual-clutch transmissions.
One feature that the Corvette comes with that’s worth talking about though is its hydraulically-actuated front suspension lift.
This feature allows the Corvette to increase its ground clearance, so that despite its low and wide stance, the Corvette isn’t in danger of having its front bumper ripped off by the first speed bump it goes over. This is very cool, and basically mimics one of the best features of Air Ride. But where Corvette really went above and beyond is with the GPS based memory. You can actually program in the speedbumps that you drive over frequently and have the suspension adjust itself automatically.
You are limited to 1,000 locations.
Wrapping It Up
We’re incredibly excited about both of these cars. At $60,000, the Corvette just became one of the most affordable supercar-like vehicles on the market. The mid-engined design is a game-changer, and it will be exciting to see how other car manufacturers respond to it. The incredibly light design of the Corvette coupled with its impressive handling capabilities make it a great contender for twisty road courses, but in a straight drag race, the GT500 is going to be a tough pony to beat with more than 700 horsepower under the hood.
But in the race for our heart, the Shelby’s always the winner.
Image Credit: Ford Motor Company | Chevrolet | Road & Track | Car & Driver