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After 67 years of front-engined performance, new Chevrolet Corvette owners are going to have to get used to mid-engined dynamics, and some of them are going to do that by running into things. The first C8 Corvette crash happened last August, before serial production began. This chewed-on Corvette showed up on a flatbed in March, not long after production started. In April, this guy got hit by a drunk driver the day after taking delivery of his Corvette. And earlier this month, someone launched a C8 into a field and abandoned it. Veteran Corvette owners will also need to get used to GM’s stricter repair policies for the new sports car. A member of the Corvette Forum found an article on the automakers TechLink site that explains, “Structural repairs must be made by certified GM Collision Repair Network (CRN) or Cadillac Aluminum Repair Network (CARN) shops. Non-certified shops will not be permitted to receive the restricted structural part numbers from a GM dealership. The majority of the structural frame components for the C8 Corvette will be put on parts restriction.”
This restriction isn’t new among automakers, nor is it new for GM. Owners who’ve crashed mid-engined exotics like the Audi R8, or an aluminum-intensive chassis’ like a Jaguar, or even a Honda with an aluminum subframe, will probably have encountered the requirements for an OEM-certified shop and OEM parts. The seventh-generation Corvette sat on an aluminum chassis, and a Corvette Forum member says a ‘Vette body shop told him “in order to get paid by an insurance company for frame repair they had to be ‘certified,’ in this case by GM.” According to a shop that said its Mercedes-Benz certification was accepted by other manufacturers, the process involves building a clean room for repairs, buying a particular kind of MIG welder and tools, training for technicians, the use of OEM parts and contractual adherence to OEM-approved repair procedures.
What appears to be new in all of this is GM codifying the issue and restricting sales of certain part numbers, the same way Audi would only sell certain structural R8 components to shops it had certified. Some potential Corvette buyers will take this as GM restricting the consumer’s right to repair and bemoan increased insurance premiums, others will likely shrug and say, “Welcome to the all-aluminum, mid-engined life.”