The Corvette concept “Manta Ray” is a factory built, Corvette “Kart” starting at $29,995.00. The driver’s side shows optional rear fenders.

Having just returned from Mid America Motorwork’s Funfest in Effingham, Illinois, we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek of a fantastic new concept Corvette by Chevrolet.

The Bow Tie division is painfully aware of the average age of new ‘Vette buyers and has been trying to lower the digits and attract younger prospects for years. The average age of new Corvette buyers is 63 – easy now, Porsche’s is 61 – and that doesn’t seem to be migrating south anytime soon.

With distilled Corvette goodness, minus excess baggage, the “Manta Ray” could be a game changer.

In fact, one trip to a Corvette show reveals the makers of cargo shorts, Hawaiian shirts, Tevas, electric scooters, and walkers are raking in the cash.

The latest C7 really moved the needle for potential – and younger – buyers, but there’s more work to be done to transform the brand into an aspirational model for folks say, 25-50 years old. 

All killer, no filler.

Another sticking point is–literally–the sticker price. At $75-100K, the current Corvette approaches “unobtanium” for many folks who would otherwise step up to the plate and buy the latest example of “Plastic Fantastic.” Aging demographics be damned, the reality is most folks can’t afford a new Corvette, period.

And that brings us to Chevy’s new concept, called the “Manta Ray.” A stripped down version of the C7 heavily influenced by the current “rat rod ” movement that has swept the Corvette hobby has the potential for reinventing the youth market of the auto industry as well.

With a suggested MSRP of $29,995.00, the “Manta Ray” is essentially a brand new Corvette minus bodywork and any superfluous bloat, demolishing an existing Corvette, not required. The Corvette has non-structural bodywork so it’s a natural to join the automotive equivilant of a nudist colony.

The “Manta Ray” would tip scales at around 2500 lbs.

A byproduct of shedding it’s skin is the “Manta Ray” also sheds the hoary old conceptions of what a Corvette is and reveals itself anew to potential, next generation ‘Vette buyers.

The sub-$30k sticker is really the key element here. After emerging from it’s chrysalis, the buyer gets an LT1 powered screamer that is upwards of half a ton lighter that a standard ‘Vette and is affordable.

Options are few, but it’s rumored the LT4 is under consideration for a super “Manta Ray” that would obliterate any competition on road or track.

Chevy was tight lipped on when production would begin, but look for it to hit the market in 2019.

Aaaaand, SCENE!

That’s what I get for eating 4-star pad thai before bed. In this case it resulted in a crazy Corvette dream.

For now, the notion of a stripped down, rat rod style ‘Vette is just a figment of our curry and coconut infused imagination.

The vehicle in the pictures is a “cutaway” model that Chevy hauls around to car shows to illustrate whats under the skin of a new C7.

All Corvette goodies retained, everything else jettisoned.

After watching others re-invent the notion of what a ‘Vette is, could this show circuit, cutaway model unknowingly be the salvation of the calcified Corvette market?

The hurdles to producing such a car are steep. Safety standards and crash standard would be tough bogeys for a production rat rod ‘Vette to achieve. But what a way to de-construct the Corvette – literally – and transform the market for the car.

A stripped down, sub-$30k, “kart” style Corvette just might be the thing that busts the gate open for Chevrolet and could re-invent the brand.

General Motors, are you listening?

What say you?