This Weekend: Corvette Vs Porsche 911 On The Streets On Newport

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The Owners

Now for the one HUGE difference (and the one Newporter’s will probably notice this weekend) is that while performance-wise, these cars may be almost identical, there has traditionally been a big difference in the people who buy and drive these cars.

The Corvette owner has traditionally been a bit more blue-collar. The ‘Vette has typically been the most expensive model offered by Chevrolet, but we’re still talking Chevrolet. A base Corvette will run you around $51k. The Porsche starts at about double that and options can quickly run you the cost of that base Vette.

The Porsche has always been white-collar, typically nouveau riche. Bill Gates famously got himself arrested in the late ’70s while driving his new 911 a little too fast. While the Vette is a little bit country, the 911 is more EDM.

So if you own a cement factory or construction company, you’re going with the Vette. If you’re a surgeon or electrical engineer, you’re going with the 911. Probably the easiest way to make the call is: If you own or have owned a pickup truck, the chance that you’ll pick the Corvette over the 911 goes up about 75%.

There is one aspect of these cars owners that is very similar: Age. A young woman recently commented that she never sees young men driving Corvettes. That said, most 911 owners aren’t spring chickens either. Even in the used market, these cars remain unattainable for most young people.

The Fix Is In

One very interesting similarity between the two models is nagging speculation that their respective companies insist on retarding lesser models that might threaten their thoroughbred. Upon the introduction of the Porsche Cayman, the BBC show Top Gear pointed out that the lighter, smaller, mid-engined (and cheaper) Cayman had a horsepower output that put it exactly halfway between the Boxster and the 911. Jeremy Clarkson speculated that as good as the Cayman was, it had been held back from its full potential to protect the 911.

The theory is that the engine for the 911 is in the wrong place. It should be a mid-engine rather than a rear-engine car. If the engine is in the center of the car, then the car can more easily rotate around it, making for superior handling. With the 911, Porsche has spent decades learning how to compensate for this “mistake” and have smoothed out most of the handling quirks that result from having the engine in the car’s tail. Unlike air-cooling, which ended in 1997, Porsche isn’t about the let the rear-engined tradition of the 911.

Similarly, there are plenty of rumors over the years that GM had prevented projects coming to fruition when they might have eclipsed the performance of the Corvette. The first we heard of it was probably 25 years ago, when we were told a rumor that some engineers put the turbo V-6 from the Buick Grand National into a Fiero, but GM killed it because the resulting monster would have smoked the more profitable Vette. More recently, when the supercharged LS9 motor from the ZR1 (638bhp) found its way into the Cadillac CTS-V(556 bhp), it was missing about 80 bhp. Just like with the 911, in the company barn, the Corvette will always come out on top.


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