It may not look like much right now, but underneath all that bolted on Holden Commodore SSV and C7 Corvette Stingray cladding, sits a living, breathing mid-engined C8 Corvette. While nothing more than an engineering mule at this stage of the game, we can be certain that GM Design is already scribbling away on a sleek, sexy exterior for this next generation Corvette.
Over the decades, the Corvette-faithful have heard time and time again, that the General is working on a mid-engined Corvette, only to see the car never come to fruition. In this month’s issue of Corvette Magazine, is an interesting article entitled “Twice Killed, Twice Saved – Part 2”. Tom Wallace, Corvette’s fourth chief engineer and Vehicle Line Executive told Corvette Magazine that his burning desire was to finally do a mid-engine Corvette as Zora Arkus-Duntov, Corvette’s first chief engineer, wanted so many years ago.
Soon after, Wallace was replaced by Tadge Juechter, Corvette’s current chief engineer. Juechter also shared Wallace’s vision for a mid-engine Corvette and at the time, was working on a viable mid-engine prototype, but he never had the budget to bring the car to production. Wallace told Corvette Magazine that they were extremely close to building prototypes to test, but all the work had been done in a quiet, skunkworks fashion, and trying to acquire nearly $1 billion in funding from the sinking ship known as General Motors was highly unlikely.
Fast forward to 2015. The 2014 C7 Corvette, which was originally killed due to the financial situation of GM, came to production, and reached 37,288 units built; a number we hadn’t seen since the 35,310 C6 Corvettes built in 2008. Within that six year time frame, GM has gone through a bankruptcy, a major re-organization, and a large increase in overall quality of many of their models. Everything that print media bitched about regarding previous generations of Corvette not being able to handle well compared to European competitors, shoddy build quality, and an interior harkening back to Noah’s Ark have been addressed in the C7. In just a little over a year, the Corvette has collected more praise and kudos than it ever has before.
So, with the introduction of the 2015 C7 Corvette Z06 and the future looking very bright for the marque overall, why not finally blow the dust off those old architectural studies and clay models, and finally bring Zora’s dream to fruition?
Branding: It’s all in the Name
So, now that we know GM is working on something that appears to be mid-engined and probably a Corvette, the newest debate is what it will be called. Some believe that this isn’t the next generation Corvette at all, and nothing more than a 2017 C7 Corvette “ZR1” that will be a mid-engine Corvette. While this certainly may be possible, I’m not sure it makes sense.
If $1 billion was necessary several years ago to actually bring a mid-engine Corvette to market, it’s safe to say, that number has probably grown quite a bit. The C7 Corvette generation was planned to be a very short-lived generation until GM was able to get out of the red and start to turn a profit again. I believe we are now seeing that time come. The amount of engineering, R&D and funding necessary to switch from a front-engine to a mid-engine model is no drop in a bucket. It take an enormous amount of time and money to properly design, develop and engineer a new platform. I can’t see GM making such a huge investment and not calling it the next generation of Corvette. I could be wrong, but time will tell.
Back in June of last year, I reported that General Motors trademarked the name “Zora” as shown on the U.S Patent and Trademark office web site. It’s anyone’s guess whether or not this new mid-engined Corvette will be called “Zora” in honor of Zora Arkus-Duntov’s contributions to the marque. However, one thing is for sure…GM is definitely working on something that appears to be mid-engine with a few C7 Corvette body panels slapped on. Coincidence? Maybe.
In the mean time, head on over to Car and Driver and check out the awesome spy shots they have of this mid-engine test mule!
Related Link: 1973 Mid Engine Corvette