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9 Mid-engine Corvette Prototypes That Never Made it to Production

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  • 9 Mid-engine Corvette Prototypes That Never Made it to Production

    Mid-engine Corvette Prototypes That Never Made It Into Production

    GM made its rear engine prototype 59 years ago. Since then, eight known additional prototype ME’s were built, but as we know, none made it until production. Please see the next post which has two additional ME’s, theXP-882 Aerovette and the Corvette Indy, and then from an additional article, also, the 1964 CERV II and the 1990 CERV III

    UNTIL… The known production version 2020 mid engine Corvette. Just how many days until its reveal?

    Originally posted by Autowise
    Let’s Reminisce About The Mid-Engine Corvettes We Almost Saw!

    For a period, GM seriously considered developing a mid-engine platform for the Corvette. Here are the cars with which they explored the mid-engine Corvette concept.

    Of course, Ford and its overtures to bring the GT40 to the market as a street car must have had some impact on the boys at Chevrolet Engineering, as did the Lamborghini Muira. Despite numerous concept cars shown to the public over the year, with car magazines breathlessly announcing that the next Corvette will be mid-engine, it hasn’t happened. Until now.

    1964 Corvette XP-819 Rear Engine:

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    The XP-819 wasn’t really a mid-engine car, but rather had its engine XP-819 was the result of a clash between Zora Arkus-Duntov (The ‘father’ of the Corvette) and engineer Frank Winchell, who’d been involved with the Corvair project. Winchell contended that you could make a balanced, rear-engine, V-8 powered sports car with an aluminum engine and larger tires on the rear to compensate for the rear weight bias. Duntov adamantly disagreed. A GM marine engine powered the car so the two-speed transaxle from a Pontiac Tempest would operate properly. The entire chassis, suspension, and steering are custom made components unique to this car.
    It turned out that Winchell’s theory about rear-engine, V-8 cars was incorrect. The car was demolished on the test track and quickly forgotten. However, stylist Larry Shinoda’s design was well received. Shinoda appears to have picked up styling cues from the Chaparral race cars. It even had Chaparral wheels.
    While not a true mid-engine car, it was in reality a rear-engine car with its engine hanging out over the back, Porsche style. It’s important to our story as it drove development toward true mid-engine designs.

    1968 Astro II XP-880

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    Above all else, it was its success in racing that made the Corvette legend. Sports racing car development in the 1960s was dynamic, with the Ford GT40 and the Chevrolet-backed Chaparral both designed around a mid-engine layout. The XP-880 (Astro II) was the first of several experimental, mid-engine Corvettes that had enthusiasts convinced for more than a decade that the next Corvette would carry its Chevy V8 in the middle of the car.

    The Astro II was designed to showcase its mid-engine powertrain application. Chevy R&D’s first mid-engine Corvette positioned a big-block V-8 backwards in the car so the starter and ring gear were behind the driver’s elbow. The torque converter from the Tempest transaxle bolted to what’s normally the nose of the crank. The finished car weighed 200 pounds less than a stock 427 Corvette, but the transaxle was designed for an intermediate sedan, not a 7 liter motor, and couldn’t handle the power.

    With its 427 engine, the Astro II was more like a Can-Am racer than a street car. Even with production Camaro and Corvette suspension parts, and performance street tires, the Astro II generated 1.0 g of cornering grip, which at that time was a level only race cars could achieve. Astro II weighed in at 300 lbs less than a production Corvette, yet had almost the same external dimensions.

    1969 Mid Engine XP-882:

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    The experimental XP-882 looked production-ready, thus fueling rumors that the next Corvette would be a mid- engine design. GM built two XP-882 chassis for evaluation, but only one had the bodywork shown here. Zora Arkus-Duntov’s solution to the XP-880’s transaxle problem was to mate a 454 big block V8 to a FWD Toronado transmission, and then mount it all transversely to lower the mass. A bevel-gear driven shaft ran back to a Chevy differential, passing through a hole in the oil pan along the way. It could handle the power, but the powertrain weighed in at a heavyweight 950 pounds.

    1972 Two Rotor XP-897 GT:

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    In the early 1970s, a number of manufacturers were experimenting with ****el rotary engines, GM among them. In the tightly-diminished motors, Chevy engineers saw an opportunity for a better integrated mid-engine design. The XP-897 utilized a 266 CID, 180 hp ****el rotary engine mounted transversely, driving the automatic transaxle being developed for the upcoming Chevy Citation. Designed by GM’s Experimental Studio (which was stuck designing the front of the car around the archaic headlight laws of the time) and built in 6 months on a modified Porsche 914 chassis by Pininfarina, the 2-Rotor made its debut at the 1973 Frankfurt show.

    1972 XP-895:

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    For the XP-895, a four-rotor engine was created out of a pair of the two rotor ****els, creating a 420 hp engine . The XP-895 is actually based on the XP-882 chassis. Somewhere in 1971, Chevrolet Engineering completed a running XP-895 prototype, with primarily steel body panels.On March of 1972 Reynolds Metals Company, under contract to Chevrolet, begins building a second body for an XP-895 Corvette prototype, duplicating the first steel body in aluminum. On June of that year, the aluminum car was completed and fitted with a 454 V8. Chevrolet unveiled the experimental mid-engine XP-895 Corvette at the New York Auto Show in 1973. The response was overwhelming positive, but it was too expensive to bring to production and the concept was dropped.
    Article continued into next post.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by John; 12-14-2018, 03:30 PM.
    Excited owners of a 2015 Z06. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 20 year members of NCM. Our 2020 ME C8 Corvette is next.

  • #2
    More from above prototype ME that never went into production article here:

    Originally posted by Autowise

    1973 Four Rotor XP-882 AeroVette

    The same XP-882 that had been shown in New York in 1970 served as the basis for the XP-882 ****el motor prototype. Built on the first XP-882 chassis it carried the same four-rotor engine as the XP-895. The very Corvette-like styling cues led many to believe they were looking at the next generation of Chevy’s sports car.
    The design, which included radical bifold gullwing doors (like those on the Tesla Model X). The sterling silver paint, with silver leather interior and forged alloy turbine wheels gave the Corvette an appearance unmatched by any other advanced sports car. The interior was also more fully engineered than the show-car norm, which was taken as another indication this model was a serious production candidate.

    The car was given a new lease on life by removing the discontinued ****el program engine and installing a small-block Chevrolet V8, christening it the AeroVette. While it was promoted as the upcoming C4 Corvette for 1980, it never entered production.

    1985 Corvette Indy:

    Picture thanks to

    After the introduction of the C4 Corvette, there was a concept car introduced in 1985 to show a possible C5 Corvette. Called the Corvette Indy, the first example was a silver non-working mockup showing the mid-engine configuration preferred by Duntov. The silver car was followed by two functional examples.
    The Chevrolet Corvette Indy Concept was constructed in 1985 and was powered by a mid-mounted twin-turbo intercooled 32 valve 2.6 liter V8 engine designed by Lotus Engineering (which was owned by GM at the time). The engine was named for the Chevy Indy V8 racing motor. Power is estimated at approximately 600 hp.
    Created to showcase Chevrolet’s advanced automotive technology, the Corvette Indy concept featured 4-wheel drive, 4-wheel steering, active suspension and a rear view camera with in-dash view screen. Indy incorporated many “advanced” technologies that are now standard on most cars, including ABS, electronic traction control and electronic throttle control.[/Quote]

    Thank you Autowise for the great above information!

    The two ME’s left out in the above article were the CERV II and the CERV III. Only new info on these latter two is excepted/included below from this new article from

    Originally posted by
    The 9 Mid-Engine Corvette Concepts Chevrolet Almost Built(By Clayton Seams)

    Take a seat, because we’re going right back to the very genesis of the mid-engine Corvette myth!

    1965 CERV II

    What was it? As Ferrari and Ford developed the mid-engined 248 SP and the GT40, respectively, GM realized they’d have to go to the mid-engine formula if they wanted to compete on the world’s stage. Thus, the impetus was born for the radical CERV II, the genesis of the mid-engine Corvette legend.
    CERV simply stands for Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle, a purposely dull name to slide it by the bean counters without them knowing. The CERV II was obviously preceded by the CERV I, but the first was a cigar-shaped, single-seater designed to compete in Indy races. And while it was mid-engined, it had no planned crossover with the Corvette.

    The CERV II, however, was intended to be a separate, limited production run of Corvette designed to dominate racing. It was powered by two engines during its two-year development — initially by an advanced, all-aluminum 377 cubic-inch SOHC V8 making 490 horsepower and eventually, a hulking 427 cubic-inch V8 making 550 horsepower. That furious power was sent to the ground via an advanced all-wheel-drive system and wide racing tires.
    Why didn’t they build it? The CERV II was planned to be a Ford GT40 rival. GM management put the kibosh on that plan, so the engineers changed tactics and said that it was the prototype for a mid-engine Super-vette. The accountants killed that idea, too. Just one was built, but it never competed in a single race and the mid-engined ‘Vette was put on hold.

    1990 CERV III

    What was it? The CERV III was simply a toned-down, more production-ready version of the Indy. It had a host of modifications that made it more practical to drive and more feasible to build. The long front nose was shortened to clear speed bumps, the bumpers were raised to meet minimum height requirements, the wheel wells were opened up to allow suspension travel, and the door glass was reshaped so it could actually be rolled down into the door.
    The Indy engine was also gone, and in it’s place was a quad-cam, 32-valve 5.7-litre V8 that would eventually power the 1990-95 ZR-1. As if that wasn’t special enough, GM treated the LT5 to two turbochargers, boosting output to 650 horsepower and 655 lb.-ft. of torque. Top speed was theoretically 225 miles per hour, and 0-100 km/h run was dealt with in 3.9 seconds.
    Why didn’t they build it? It was expensive. The carbon fibre body, twin turbochargers and complex four-wheel-drive system meant it would have cost a whopping $300,000 to $400,000 in 1990, or about as expensive as a Ferrari F40 or Porsche 959 at the time. For the car to be feasible for production, cost would’ve had to come way down.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by John; 12-03-2018, 04:49 PM.
    Excited owners of a 2015 Z06. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 20 year members of NCM. Our 2020 ME C8 Corvette is next.


    • #3
      you forgot the 2002 Cadillac Cien concept V-12 750, it was in the movie "The Island"

      Last edited by John; 01-01-2019, 07:43 PM. Reason: ”Moved” video so it can more easily be seen right here.
      Lifetime member National Corvette Museum #2588
      Retired from GM, Paint Dept.


      • #4
        Thanks 4U2ENV for that reminder. Along with many, I was sorry they never made that a production car. It would have been beyond my budget, but still would have liked to have it make it to production.
        Excited owners of a 2015 Z06. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 20 year members of NCM. Our 2020 ME C8 Corvette is next.


        • #5
          I wonder if we will even see a couple of these on stage at the ME’s reveal.
          Looking forward to our ME arriving.


          • #6
            This is a fun thread, taking us back down memory lane. I too am wondering if we see any of these at the reveal.
            Excited owners of a 2015 Z06. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 20 year members of NCM. Our 2020 ME C8 Corvette is next.


            • #7
              Since we are on the subject of mid-engines, concepts and Cadillac's, lets not forget Jay Leno's "Ecojet" built with the help of GM, Alcoa and Honeywell, among others. I worked at the shop that did the carbon fiber (Metalcrafters in Fountain Valley, Ca.) back then. It was bad ars then and still is to this day!

              Happy holidays everyone!
              Last edited by John; 12-28-2018, 10:32 AM. Reason: Inserted video right here for easier access.


              • #8

                We are pleased you joined us. What a fantastic first post you made above. Wonderful video, and how wonderful that got to work on that incredibile exciting project.

                Too bad that bad *** that wasn’t/isn’t the C8!

                You will have a lot to contribute here. Welcome aboard.
                Excited owners of a 2015 Z06. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 20 year members of NCM. Our 2020 ME C8 Corvette is next.


                • #9
                  History of Corvette ME Prototypes:

                  Excited owners of a 2015 Z06. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 20 year members of NCM. Our 2020 ME C8 Corvette is next.