Chevrolet Corvette C8: This week, Bring a Trailer included a fascinating advertisement for a “Pre-Production 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe C8.R 01EX.”
The seller of this item claims in the comments that he or she is in possession of the 1,001st example of the limited-to-1,000 C8.R Edition, a special package commemorating the mid-engine Vette’s dominant 2020 season in sports car racing, and that this vehicle somehow escaped from General Motors’ clutches. To try and unravel the riddle, Jalopnik contacted Chevrolet.
BaT advertises a 2021 Stingray with a low mileage of 97 kilometers. The seller, a car dealer from Sarasota, FL who goes by the BaT handle “cool stuff,” admits in the comments that he didn’t give much thought to the yellow Vette’s rarity when he first saw it at auction in July.
Then he saw a few odd things, like the adhesive residue left behind after racing stripe decals had been put and later removed from the bodywork. There was a plaque inside the car that said it was a one-of-a-kind 2022 Corvette Stingray IMSA GTLM Championship Edition, which only 1,000 people would ever own.
Nonetheless, there was a plaque inside that said “01EX” rather than a serial number. Also, the seller alleges that when he mentioned the unique plaque to his GM contact, the GM person reacted in a panic and asked to bring the car back to Detroit so Chevy could have a look at it. The dealership declined, but they did offer to have a GM mechanic check out the Vette on their premises.
According to the seller, a GM specialist poured over the strange ’21 Stingray for an entire eight hours. The majority of the efforts appear to have been routine: Including all mandatory warning labels and updating the owner’s manual to reflect the vehicle’s model year and options. According to the seller, though, the GM technician described the Corvette as a prototype that accidentally made its way to a used car auction. This is a somewhat abridged version of the seller’s BaT remark.
[The technician told me] this car was to be stripped and or crushed but it was not in the warehouse where the others were decommissioned, instead it was in the media building and got missed. There is an app on the car that is proprietary to GM that talks real-time to GM in Detroit, and it needs to be removed. Plus, this car was not supposed to be sold or on the road, so we need to make it compliant with all warning labels and replace the owner’s manuals in the car with the correct version. He went [on] to say this car has caused some S#@T at GM because there was only 1,000 C8Rs made and now there are 1,001! If they would have removed the plaque as they were supposed to, with all the other C8R stuff, you never would have known what you have.
Talking briefly with a GM rep, though, revealed considerably more banality. Over the phone on Thursday, Trevor Thompkins, senior manager for performance car and motorsports communications, told me, “This Corvette is special in a manner.” Since the IMSA GTLM Champion Edition wasn’t released until 2022, this Corvette from 2021 is just a fake.
According to Thompkins, the 2021 Corvette seen in the BaT ad was originally purchased by GM for their Captured Test Fleet. Fans of General Motors are likely familiar with the CTF program thanks to the plethora of online discussions that have shed light on its inner workings.
Essentially, once GM receives its fleet of pre-production vehicles, the corporation distributes them to its workers to be used as daily drivers for a distance of up to seven thousand miles. The cars may report back to GM on the performance of the updated features as they are used in everyday driving.
When a CTF car reaches a certain age or mileage threshold, the telemetry data communication system is turned off and any necessary adjustments are made to get the car closer to the production-ready version of that model year’s trim level. The cars are then auctioned off to the general public.
According to the BaT auction’s VIN, which Thompkins verified, the yellow Corvette in this picture was formerly owned by GM for the CTF program. According to the auction ad, this specific Corvette served as a promotional car for Chevrolet at various racing events while dressed in a dummy version of the IMSA Champion Edition appearance package for the 22nd model year.
The 2022 Champion Edition package was initially shown off on this same Corvette at the 2021 Detroit Grand Prix in June. It was also featured in other Chevy advertisements.
To return it to the construction status that matches the Monroney, Thompkins said the stripes had to be removed, but the inspection officials had left the C8.R special edition plaque in place. Before putting a car up for auction, we verify that it has the same features as a factory-fresh Stingray from that model year. After the auction, the technician checked to make sure everything was in order.
Thompkins assured us that no non-production parts or software that reported vehicle data back to GM would have been put in the CTF Corvette.
After a CTR car is returned to its right model year spec, it is given a new Monroney window sticker labeled “Reissue,” as noted by the vendor. (Remember that this Corvette was likely created with equipment or software that did not make it into normal production, all of which would have been deleted before it was auctioned to the public.)
So, in a way, the BaT listing is accurate: This car was originally a prototype for the 2021 Corvette Stingray, but it was modified to reflect the C8.R special edition package that will only be available in 2022. Chevrolet utilized it in racing events and photographed it for advertisements.
However, it’s highly unlikely that the vehicle was built with the intention of being dismantled and crushed. According to what Thompkins told me, General Motors’ technicians failed to notice the special-edition badge inside the car when they restored it to model-year 2021 specifications in preparation for auction. Once the badge was spotted, GM sent another technician to double-check the car for any other defects.
Is this, therefore, one of those fabled GM prototypes so secret it was never supposed to leave the company’s vaults? Unlikely. However, it is a one-of-a-kind Corvette, with a remarkable history and intriguing features.
That alone seemed to be enough to pique much curiosity: As of this writing on Friday, the Corvette’s bids had reached over $99,000, which is $10,000 more than the retail price. The auction finishes on Monday, and we can’t wait to find out how much the successful bidder paid for a vintage Corvette with a fascinating history.