Among the most persistent car rumors is that of a mid-engine Corvette and proponents of that view have been insisting it will happen for decades. There is a hint of credulity, but a lot of gearheads are just unable to let it go already.
Not the Mid-Engine Corvette thing again
Just like cold sores, new rumors seem to surface every year that General Motors is going to make a mid-engine Corvette. Every year, the antiretroviral of it not happening is applied and the whole thing gets dismissed as being preposterous.
Maybe it is preposterous. The current Corvette, the C7 Stingray, is widely being feted as the finest ever of the breed, and certainly offers more grunt per dollar than almost any other vehicle on the market. It’s as fast and capable as cars that cost four times as much and more. Both continue the Corvette formula of a pushrod SBC in the front.
Why, then, would they mess with perfection?
Yes, yes, the whole Zora thing
A new batch of rumors surfaced recently that would seem to lend some credence to the idea of a mid-engine Corvette. (Not that it’s the first time.)
In the latter half of 2014, rumors started floating about the next-generation Corvette ZR1. According to a Sept. 2014 article by MotorAuthority, the next ZR1 – codenamed “Zora” – would have the engine amidships, with a twin-turbo small-displacement (four liters) V-8 driving the rear wheels.
Computer renderings even went about the internets. Admittedly, they are hand-bitingly gorgeous. However, in context, they were easily dismissed. The idea has been brought up so many times, why take it seriously?
Well, there are some reasons. It’s well known that GM was within a hair’s breadth of developing one in 2009. Then-executive staff were on board, including Rick Wagoner and Bob Lutz were even on board, but the company went broke and the idea got kaiboshed.
Car and Driver, that often excellent car magazine, got spy footage (15 pictures) of a concept car in GM’s testing paddock just after New Year’s Day 2015. It’s mostly a Holden Commodore Ute SSV (the Aussie El Camino SS) that essentially looks like it’s got the motor in the back, with a few Corvette bits on it. They are looking into the idea.
A real American supercar
Mid-engine Corvette concepts have been around since the 1970s, according to a Road and Track retrospective of mid-engined GM concepts. Zora Arkus-Duntov (the engineer behind much of the Corvette’s development and the source of the “Zora” name) envisioned the car eventually sporting an engine in the middle.
A mid-mounted engine also means more weight being applied to the rear wheels, thus improving traction. Front-engined cars have a natural limit on how much power they can lay down, as eventually the tires just become smoke.
Let’s assume for a moment that the C8 Zora ZR1 gets built as suggested. It’s slated to go on sale in 2017, where it will initially be offered alongside the C7 as a range topper (the rumored MSRP is around $150,000) until the base C8 goes into production, which will be of the same configuration.