I fell in love with it when I saw it as a boy. Almost 30 years later, I may see it in real life. The development time may have been slower than molasses, but I am closer to it now than I have ever been. What is it? The mid-engined Corvette.
My first encounter with a mid-pot ‘Vette would be the 1970 XP-882. I still remember the feeling of shock and awe I had when I saw this car in a magazine. I was trained in the ways of Corvette. I knew what a proper Corvette was supposed to be. I held the traditions of the GM Halo car in high regard. Nonetheless, I saw this as a precursor to Chevy stomping Ferrari. I dreamt about the Ford GT and a mid-engine Corvette racing side-by-side at LeMans. Alas, ’twas but a dream. I was not going to see anything remotely resembling a production Corvette with an engine amidships. I dared not even hope for it – until recently.
Then came the XP-819. Since I liked the C3 (a whole lot), this was right up my alley. Swoopy curves and thrust from the rear. It seemed like a natural progression of the Plastic Fantastic. Sadly, it was another poster car and nothing more. I figured that some big wig at GM was saying: “Hold on a couple of years and we’ll release it!” I remained hopeful. Needless to say, no mid-engine ‘Vette.
CERV-III bored me. By that time, I had heard so many stories, rumors and promises that I barely paid any attention. I had been deceived and was probably scarred by the bowtie division so deeply that I didn’t even take them seriously. No other mid-engined ‘Vette concept would be any more that that – a concept. Therefore I took the CERV-III and every concept coming after it with the same amount of excitement as a Scion C-HR Concept. All shirt, no trousers.
Now I have another mid-engine carrot dangled above my head. I’ve heard about the specs. Yes. I heard about the testing GM has done recently, but I can’t help but think it is little more than a placebo. Please tell me that I am wrong. I want to be wrong.
I am absolutely smitten by the front-mounted car. I always have been. However, a car from Bowling Green that has the same layout as one from Zuffenhausen would be wonderful. I’ll sit still as the facts come across my desk.
Development on the C7’s replacement has begun, and rumor has it, a mid-engine variant is in the works. Mark Reuss, head of Global Product development, says that the C8 will be “revolutionary.” To some Corvette watchers, that can only mean one thing: a mid-engine Chevy super car. I prefer to hold out judgement. “Revolutionary” is a relative term. It could be a hybrid engine or four-wheel drive car. When it comes to Corvettes, revolution is confined to the brand legacy, not the entire industry.
The Ford GT’s MSRP is around $450,000; that’s quite a bit of money for a Corvette. I am sure that Chevy would undercut that but a few hundred thousand, but the current model is ringing in at about $55,000- $60,000. The Corvette faithful have always reveled in the fact that they could comfortably slip from the current to the newest model with little or no discomfort. Even if the V8 is accompanied (or replaced) with a V6 (naturally aspirated, turbocharged or hybrid), the car would still have a steeper price than usual. If the price is as little as $150,000, that won’t be such a smooth transition.
The cabin would have to be far forward. Let’s face it, we just got the cabin to a point where we don’t complain incessantly about ergonomics. I would hate to tamper with that by reconfiguring it for a mid-engine design. Pray to the design gods that it is comfortable and inviting – a lot of mid-engine cockpits aren’t. Are we ready for a ‘Vette with flying buttresses like the McLaren 570S and Ford GT? Remember, Ferrari got us used to the idea of a front-engine car way back in the ’50’s. They’ve had half-a-century to lull us into acceptance (a proper Ferrari is still mid-engine). To convince us of the opposite, Chevy doesn’t have that advantage.
The mid-engine Corvette has been a fantasy purported by the automotive press. Is Chevy finally going to build a direct competitor to the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini? Recent evidence suggests that, but don’t start jumping for joy just yet. Many reports have been released about a BMW M1 successor too, remember? While I am hesitant to sound the alarm, that ten-year old boy inside me still holds out hope.