It seems a mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette has been in the works ever since, well, ever since there was a Corvette.
After joining GM shortly after the ’Vette’s debut in 1953, Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov soon began scheming for a mid-engine version. He understood the responsive handling afforded by such a layout, but despite numerous internal design studies over the ensuing decades, some development stops and starts, a few mid-engine Corvette concepts, and always-rampant rumors that a mid-engine package was “right around the corner,” no such car ever materialized. During development it seemed the current Chevrolet Corvette C7 might finally take up the mid-engine mantle until budget considerations axed the project.
Now the rumors are alive again, especially since the introduction of the mid-engine Ford GT at the Detroit auto show. An intriguing prototype has been spied, and Chevy insiders aren’t swatting aside the giddy conjecture it’s caused. More to the point, a mid-engine Corvette at last makes business sense. As evidenced by our track drive in the Corvette Z06, 650 hp is nearing the limits for a front-engine design to handle. What’s more, a younger generation of potential buyers doesn’t care that “a ’Vette has to look like a ’Vette.” Probably they’d rather its proportions more closely resembled a McLaren. Or a Ferrari. Or even a Porsche Cayman.
Due date? If the project doesn’t stall, look for a mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette to bow as a top-tier model of the Corvette C8 in 2017. A version of the current small-block V-8 is almost assured; a dual-clutch transmission with shift paddles on the steering wheel will likely also appear. Were he still around, the “Father of the Corvette” would love the rumored name for the mid-engine car: Zora ZR1.