Mike Hagerty/Special to the Town Crier The 2020 Corvette Stingray Coupe features a 6.2-liter V8 that produces a whopping 490 horsepower.

If you are looking for a parable to give you some perspective and patience in an effort to make it to the other side of a pandemic and enjoy life as it was, I have one.

I was in my freshman year of high school when Motor Trend first screamed the news from its cover that a mid-engine Corvette was on the way. I’ll turn 65 in March.

Was it worth the 51-year wait from reading about such a dream machine to actually driving one for a week?

Oh, heck yes.

I mean, just look at the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe. My neighbors sure did. I could have financed our retirement by selling tickets. If I could have given rides (not going to happen in COVID times) and charged for those, the grandkids would be going to Stanford.

Underneath the impossibly long hatch that stretches from pretty much the center of the car all the way to the tail is a small cargo hold – there’s a bigger one up front – and a big engine. It’s a 6.2-liter V8, making 490 horsepower with 470 pounds per foot of torque. It’s mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Equipped with the Z51 Performance Package as our tester was, it’ll go from standing still to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds.

Or so they tell me.

I tried. I put my foot down on the throttle and by about the 1.5-second mark, backed way off. Yes, there are cars with more horsepower than this. Yes, I’ve driven them. But, man, the Corvette feels like you have strapped yourself to a rocket. It makes the most fearsome sounds. It’s awesome. But I also value my future as a licensed driver in the state of California, and I like my fun in longer, larger doses – which is why I pointed the elegantly sculpted new Vette in the direction of some of my favorite Sierra Nevada backroads.

Regular readers know that I’ll take handling prowess over raw horsepower any and every time. But when you can have both … .

I could exhaust every cliche in the book about the Stingray’s handling – “like it’s on rails,” “laser-guided” – the works. They all apply. This car is a precision instrument that just happens to have endless reserves of power to go with it.

And the part I love most – buy a coupe, get a convertible free. The base Corvette Stingray Coupe has a removable roof panel. It’s light enough to be handled by one person and stashes in the rear cargo hold. You can have it on or off the car in 30 seconds.

Reverse sticker shock

The base price is a shockingly low $58,900. Neighbors were guessing $90,000 all week long. Think about that number for a second: $58,900. Odds are there’s a pickup truck on your block that cost more than that.

Among the standard equipment at that price are aluminum wheels (19 inchers in the front, 20s in the rear), run-flat tires, limited-slip differential, eight-way power bucket seats, dual-zone automatic climate control with air filtration and Bose Premium 10-speaker audio system.

Our tester did have extra-cost equipment: $7,300 went to the LT2 Preferred Equipment Package that includes navigation, further upgraded 14-speaker Bose audio system, cargo nets, head-up display, HD front curb-view camera, rear camera mirror, performance data and video recorder, heated and ventilated seats with power lumbar control and power seat bolsters, heated steering wheel, advanced theft-deterrence system, universal remote, wireless charging, nine additional free months of satellite radio, power-heated auto-dimming outside mirrors with turn indicators, rear cross traffic alert and side blind-zone alert.

Add another $5,000 for the Z51 Performance Package that includes the Z51 Performance brakes, suspension, exhaust, rear axle ratio, electronic limited-slip differential, Z51 rear spoiler, upgraded high-performance run-flat tires and heavy-duty cooling system.

For another $1,495, you get GT2 bucket seats; add another $1,495 for front lift adjustable height with memory – the chin on this car is really low. Body color exterior accents are $995, as is the engine appearance package. Bright-red painted brake calipers are $595 and Torch Red seat belts are $395.

Factor in the $1,095 destination charge and the as-tested price for the 2020 Corvette Stingray Coupe is $78,265.

Under $80,000 as equipped for a car that competes with cars in the $150,000 range? This is the right kind of sticker shock. The 2020 Corvette Stingray Coupe is worth the money – and was well worth the 51-year wait.

Mike Hagerty, vice president of membership for Western Automotive Journalists (waj.org), has been writing about cars since 1997. Read more of his reviews at MikeHagertyCars.com and follow him on Twitter (twitter.com/mikehagertycars) and Facebook (facebook.com/