Ever since I have known what a Corvette was, I have knew that a mid-engine prototype was inevitable. What I didn’t know is just how many there were, or how seriously GM pursued this idea. It’s been a rumor for over a half century now and finally, possibly as soon as next year, we will get what we all truly desire; a Corvette that will compete with foreign exotics on every level of performance. For those who do not know, Corvettes have a front/rear layout, meaning that the engine sits in the front and powers the rear wheels. This is always how Corvettes have been produced, and while it worked great 20 years ago, it’s time for a change. Cars with this layout suffer from a biased weight distribution, meaning more weight is over the front wheels than the rear, which in turn means that the car suffers around turns because not enough weight is in the rear to keep it from oversteering. To solve this issue, Corvettes put the transmission directly in front of the rear tires, coupling it to the rear differential and using a torque tube to transfer power like Aston Martins. However, new technology and materials which allow cars to be lighter and faster, thus more competitive, have finally pushed this design to its limits.
Since 2004, it was decided that the Corvette had reached the limit of grip with the traditional front engine, rear-wheel- drive layout. Under Bob Lutz, former chairman of GM and die-hard car guy, the design team got as far as constructing two full-scale clay models, a Corvette and the equivalent Cadillac XLR, both with the engine in the middle. Sadly, the recession of 2008 (and GM’s eventual government bailout) caused the automaker to put a hold on, and eventually cancel, this mid-engined Corvette project. The first official prototype was revealed all the way back in 1970, and in 1986, GM showed off the Corvette Indy, complete with a mid-mounted twin-turbo V8 and all-wheel- drive. Then, in 2002, Cadillac revealed the stunning Cien concept at the Detroit Auto Show. In between the Cien’s axles, behind the passengers, was a 7.5L V12 with 750 horsepower. It wasn’t branded as a Chevy, but industry watchers took it as a sign that GM wanted to do something big.
So now fast forward to 2017 and development on the C7’s replacement has begun, and rumor has it, again, 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 supercar. Since the engine is going to be sitting behind the cabin, the car will look quite different from the traditional Corvette layout. Looking at spy shots of what could be the C8 Corvette prototype, it seems to me GM is actively testing this new design. Rumors so far include a hybrid version dubbed “Emperor” and a dual clutch seven speed as the only transmission available. That’s right, no manual transmission. I pray to God every night this is not true, and have hope that this only remains as a rumor, so we’ll have to wait until this year’s New York Auto Show.