And with what looks to be a knockout punch, provided GM can follow through and deliver bug free new ‘Vettes next fall. Yup, the 7th generation ‘Vette was introduced last night, and it looks to be a winner- better aeros and ergos, 450 horses when you want a wild ride and shuts half the cylinders off when you don’t, user definable instruments, electronic babysitting you can shut off in 5 steps, an aluminum chassis that saves nearly 100 pounds, etc.. The end result is a $50k or so two seater that will probably get 30 MPG on the highway, comes with a 100,000 miles powertrain warranty that can be accessed at any Chevy dealer, and probably puts every other performance car under $100k to shame. The high(er) performance ‘Vette variants will be along in a year or so to put the pricier “sports” cars in their place…

And it’s also a freakin’ bargain in an age when clumsy pickups that feel like you should get paid Teamster scale to drive them instead of vice versa are pushing and passing the same $50k price as the ‘Vette. And going back to the “versus”, one can make an argument that the “Vette can be driven for less $$$ than the Volt.

Let’s do some numbers… The ‘Vette will indeed set you back $50k, and I doubt there will be much bargaining, in fact you might want to start begging your Chevy dealer now. But the ‘Vette’s been built for 60 years, and over half of those ‘Vettes are still on the road. There ain’t much to rust away on a ‘Vette given it’s fiberglass body, and the new ‘Vette adds an aluminum frame, so a new ‘Vette ain’t too likely to oxidize away. Parts are no problem, even if GM runs out- The ‘Vette aftermarket is huge. So you buy a new ‘Vette, you can probably drive it the rest of your life. But if you get bored, after the first decade or so ‘Vettes quit depreciating and often sell for more than new price. So the ‘Vette’s got zilch depreciation. The Volt’s another matter, and a 10 year old one with a dead $5000 battery will be worth less than a Vega. So buy a Volt, and say good by to $40k, less the 20% federal tax credit if your lucky enough to be in a higher tax bracket than most of us. Oops, forgot the sub-$200 a month Volt leases… Enjoy that bargain while you can, It’ll probably disappear along with the Volt soon after GM buys it’s stock back and ceases to be “Government Motors”. So figure zero depreciation for the ‘Vette and a near total write off for the Volt in 10 years or less, giving the “Vette a $4000 or so a year depreciation advantage.

But surely the Volt will make that back and bury the ‘Vette on fuel costs? Well, I put on most of my miles on long drives, usually covering 500 to 600 miles a day. In less than a hundred miles the Volts batteries are dead and it becomes a slow overpriced Malibu, and good luck finding a plug in to recharge at the cheap motels I frequent! So at 30 MPH on my 12,000 miles a year of highway driving the ‘Vette will suck down 400 gallons of gas, sucking $1500 from my meager savings account. I won’t even bother figuring out the costs of the electricity the Volt will use for the first hour or so of a typical days drive ’til the battery dies, but at best for a long distance driver like me the Volt will for 80% of it’s time be in the slow overpriced Malibu mode, 1.4 liter engine struggling through a not real efficient electric powertrain… We’ll be charitable and give the Volt an unearned 40 MPG rating, using 240 gallons of fuel for the 80% of my 12,000 miles a year it sorta runs with dead batteries. That computes to $900 a year, besting the ‘Vette by $600… But the ‘Vette depreciates $4000 less a year as it gracefully ages into a classic while the Volt becomes a mobile hazmat site! Yup, you can enjoy a ‘Vette for less than one third the cost of suffering along in a Volt!

‘Bout now somebody with a Sierra Club or similar T-shirt on stands up and screams “but how about our priceless environment?” Well, a car whose life is determined by the steady deterioration of a battery that will soon cost more to replace than the car is worth is not environmentally friendly or sustainable… which probably explains why GM prefers to lease rather than sell Volts so they can call them home and they can join the failed EV1 in the great electric car junkyard in the sky.

So if you’ve got $50k to blow on wheels, don’t need a pickup, and could care less what the local self styled environmentalists think of you, consider the new ‘Vette. I doubt I’d buy either the ‘Vette or Volt, but if I walked into the local Chevy dealer and ordered a ‘Vette, I’d know I hadn’t gone totally bonkers!

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