This is very bad news if you were hoping for a cheaper mid-engine sports car to base your custom build on.
The fact that the Chevrolet Corvette offers more performance than competitors costing twice the price is only part of what makes the sports car so appealing. The other reason is that it’s a fantastic car to use as a foundation on which to build a high-performance tuning project. Cheap materials that beg to be replaced, plenty of aftermarket support, and of course, the fact a buyer isn’t shelling out $100k+ for a Porsche that’ll eventually get its internals replaced anyway, these are some of the features that make the Corvette a highly compelling sports cars for those who have an itch to add power to their cars.
But change is looming. With the C8 slated to be the first Corvette to get a mid-engine layout, it’s only a matter of time before tuners gain access to a relatively inexpensive car that keeps its mass in the center. Except maybe not.
While it’s almost certain that the C8 will be revealed on July 18th, Muscle Cars & Trucks has learned that Corvette engineers may have made the car completely un-tunable. Of course, there will always be the parts customers can just swap out - the tires, suspension, even the engine - but what GM plans to restrict are modifications made to the C8's engine software.
The report details how the C8 ‘Vette’s computers will feature a unique encrypted ECU system. Encrypted ECUs aren’t that abnormal in modern cars, but Chevrolet’s will differ in the sense that it will be built with a high priority on cybersecurity, making it very hard to break into and modify.
If an unruly tuner/hacker does manage to get inside the system and begins to read, write, and/or replace the code, the C8 might even have the capability of "bricking” itself, sort of like a phone does after too many failed password attempts. While becoming bricked won’t stop the ‘Vette from driving, it will place the car in a sort of "recovery mode,” forcing the C8’s computer to require a reboot in order to work properly again.
Chevrolet is unlikely to comment on this as the C8 has yet to be revealed. But if the story is true, you can be sure that a large part of the Corvette community, especially the sects that enjoy engineering their own throttle maps and customizing high-performance ECU programs, will be very disappointed.