Rumors of a mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette have run rampant for decades, and while several prototypes have been built, none have actually made it into production. Recent rumors, however, suggest General Motors was recently looking at developing such a beast with a little help from...Saab?
You read that right. Britain's Autocar reports a senior Saab source revealed the Swedish automaker's engineers had developed a dual-clutch transaxle specifically for a mid-engine Corvette. Confirmation of such a project indicates how seriously GM was taking the idea of a mid-engine 'Vette. According to Autocar, the gearbox was extremely robust, and could handle up to 590 pound-feet of torque -- slightly below the output of today's top-of-the-line ZR1.
Work on the next-generation C7 Corvette began several years ago, progressing to the point that some sources said GM had a fully engineered mid-engine Corvette concept. However, the C7 Corvette project was put on indefinite hold when the credit crisis struck in 2008, apparently cancelling the [costly] development of an all-new mid-engine Corvette platform. Development of the C7 however, was restarted immediately after GM exited bankruptcy last summer -- but we're not sure the mid-engine layout will reappear.
We reported earlier on what we see ahead for the C7, which includes a front-engine layout with smaller, more efficient engines. The typical pushrod V-8s will remain a Corvette staple, but will be downsized and almost certainly have direct-injection, variable valve timing, and cylinder deactivation added. Some suggest a base engine may become a turbocharged V-6 to reduce fuel consumption, while the entire model range may weigh in at just below 3000 pounds, which will further improve both fuel economy and performance.
Although the C7 will almost certainly retain a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout, new mid-engine Corvette rumors have emerged, saying the eighth-generation Corvette (C8) could move to such a layout. We don't have a crystal ball, and after decades of mid-engine Corvette rumors and only a few concept Corvettes using such an arrangement, we're taking this with a few grains of salt.
Our Snap Judgment yesterday was if GM should pursue developing a mid-engine Corvette at all. Today we'll pose another question: should GM expand Corvette into a sub-brand and build a smaller, entry-level, mid-engine car -- à la Porsche Boxster/Cayman -- or could it build a mid-engine halo car? Let us know what you think Corvette's future should hold.