Just how does a $60k Corvette in the US turn into a $260k Corvette in New Zealand?

A story we ran last month about what’s likely to be the first mid-engined C8 Corvette to arrive in New Zealand raised a few eyebrows.

Not just the car, mind, but the price. At $259,800 from 4Guys Autobarn in Hamilton, many readers thought it looked like a mind-boggling leap from the US$60,000 price of the new Corvette in America.

That’s a familiar scenario with one-off imports from all parts the world: a seemingly inexplicable gulf between what the car cost new in its home market and what Kiwi dealers are asking.

So, what does it really cost to get a single piece of dream Americana to the showroom floor in NZ?

We have the answer direct from the source: 4Guys Autobahn, which has the C8 Corvette in question in transit for a May arrival.

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The US$60,000 base price for the ’Vette is correct. This particular car is of course technically a parallel import rather than brand new because it was purchased from a dealer in the US. But it has just 50km on the clock.

The first thing that alters the cost of this car substantially is the optional equipment, which adds another $36,000.

“It’s company policy to try and purchase the newest/highest specification/lowest mileage vehicles,” says Dane Wells of 4Guys Autobahn. “That’s the case whether it’s a Mazda Atenza or the latest model Corvette. We believe in offering the best option.”

Some of the big-ticket factory items on this Corvette include the 3LT Premium Equipment Package (US$11,950), Z51 Performance Package (US$5000), carbon fibre ground effects (US$4850), removable carbon fibre roof (US$2495), upgraded wheels (US$2695), Magnetic Ride Control suspension (US$1895) and adjustable front lifter with memory function (US$1495).

There’s lots of detail stuff too, like carbon interior trim, red cabin accents including custom leather and stitching, an engine appearance package and red brake calipers.

It all takes the American price to US$96,000, or about US$104,000 with dealer margin and fees. State sales taxes add another four to nine percent to make it over the US$112,000 retail price.

The bit that hurts most is the conversion to NZ dollars – at an exchange rate range of under 60 cents the car immediately goes over the NZ$200,000 mark. There’s also 15 per cent GST payable on the declared purchase price.

Shipping, internal freight, on-road charges and compliance fees are also variable. For specific vehicle orders, 4Guys says it can guide customers through these on a case-by-case basis.

Yes, there’s also a margin for the dealership (commercially sensitive but not massive); but the end price reflects all of the above.

A further complication is the same thing that makes a C8 Corvette worth importing in the first place: it’s a sought-after machine in the US and domestic dealers are already asking premium prices. According to 4Guys, similar specification cars are already selling at over US$120k.

This left-hand drive example will be the first taste of the C8 Corvette for Kiwis.

The model is being built in right-hand by General Motors and was originally slated for NZ launch, to be distributed by Holden.

But with the demise of the Aussie brand this year, any possible future Corvette distribution by HSV (or “GMSV” as it may become) and the Covid-19 crisis, launch confirmation and timing is very much up in the air.