Key Takeaways

  • Technically, the Corvettes of today are not considered muscle cars, but sports cars, or even super cars.
  • A sports car is known for its small size and ability to reach high speeds and take tight corners. This requires a more advanced suspension
  • A muscle car is better known for having a big 8-cylinder or larger engine, being made of steel, and being fast, but not being a vehicle that excels at high-speed turns.
  • Older models of the Corvette could be considered muscle cars because of their engine sizes.

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Vehicles can go by a lot of names and labels, especially across generations. Would you call a corvette a muscle car - and why or why not?

Most people wouldn’t call a Corvette a muscle car. The Corvette better fits the class of a sports car, as a vehicle designed to go fast and take tight turns. The key difference is that traditional American muscle cars are heavier and boxier, but have big engines.

We’ll review just exactly what muscle cars and sports cars are, and do a deeper examination that answers the question of is a corvette a muscle car.

Table of Contents

Is Corvette a muscle car?

Not that we call it Corvette and not “A Corvette” because it is a brand and it sounds cool. Corvettes are not considered muscle cars by most auto aficionados who prefer to use proper terminology to convey an understanding of different types of cars.

While the most recent generation changed the Corvette a bit, the Corvette has long been known as a small sports car with a high-performance engine located in the front - or more recently in the middle - with a suspension tuned for performance. In other words, a Chevy Corvette is made for taking tight turns on a track due to its small and nimble nature. The Chevrolet Corvette is a great choice if you want sporty handling and a powerful engine.

A sports car like a chevy Corvette also has a more sleek design. The most recent iteration of a Corvette, starting in 2020 - the “C8” has been mistaken for a Ferrari or Lamborghini with very aggressive styling meant to make the vehicle more aerodynamic and smaller, which also assists in creating well-balanced handling on tight turns.

It’s hard to say which American sports cars are available outside of the Corvette. Most American manufacturers don’t make a true sports car anymore though you can find plenty of examples from Asian automakers ranging from the Subaru BRZ to the Nissan Z and Mazda Miata.  Dodge hasn’t made the well-known Viper in a few years though. It all depends on how you define it!

What is a muscle car then?

The muscle car category is a bit different. A muscle car tends to have a powerful engine - often peaking at an 8-cylinder engine, if not more. One big distinction between the muscle car category and a sports car category is length. Muscle cars tend to be longer to fit a larger engine under the hood. Their longer length also makes it better while driving in a straight line at high speed. While you can definitely take typical turns well in a muscle car, they don’t compare to a sports car in terms of handling sharp corners at high speed.

The body of a muscle car can also be built differently. A sports car tends to use carbon fiber framing while a muscle car at least used to rely on steel. A muscle car could readily be more “boxy” and not especially aerodynamic. Some say that a muscle car is basically a big block of steel with a big engine - which also implies that a traditional muscle car isn’t exactly technologically advanced.

Examples of modern muscle cars include the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger. These offer a very different, sometimes a bit boxier design than a sports car like a Chevy Corvette. Note that the Mustang is a bit different depending on what you get and straddles the difference between sports and muscle - which is pretty cool!

Is a Corvette a supercar?

Supercars have their own definition, and it’s actually hard to define. Take a sports car - add lots of amenities. Add an even more powerful engine. Give it the ability to race on a track. Make it street legal (in terms of speed and safety) and you might have yourself what they call one of Chevy’s supercars.

When the Chevrolet Corvette C8 was announced, it was declared an affordable supercar simply because of the blend of high performance with a low price compared to a Ferrari or a Lamborghini.

The term supercar is fairly new in itself, having started in the 2000s when it became possible to build a lightweight vehicle with lots of horsepower and honestly - some flash!

Can I call a Corvette a muscle car?

Let’s be honest: If you were to call a Corvette a muscle car, a car enthusiast might “correct” you and might not. Technically, according to the definitions we’ve given to separate the kinds of vehicles by their strengths and weaknesses, you might confuse people a little by calling a Corvette a muscle car.

Some people used to call Corvette muscle cars when they had big block engines and little technology. Today’s Corvettes aren’t exactly muscular, though they are a riot to drive.

What engine does a Corvette have?

To clarify, the modern 2020 or newer Chevrolet Corvette C8 is powered by a 6.2-liter 8-cylinder engine. This engine isn’t exactly small and is what makes the Corvette C8 a potential high speed track car. With that said, a C8 engine is considered a small block - which without going into extreme detail, means that everything from the pistols and bores is smaller than the “Big Block” that would power a typical muscle car.

In the 1970s, the older models of Corvette had the option of a big block 454 8-cylinder engine. While this helped fit the definition of a muscle car engine, it still overall had the suspension and technology of a sports car. I’m sure you would be happy with driving one regardless though!

Is A Corvette A Muscle Car?

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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