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‘72 XP-895 Corvette ME Prototype

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  • ‘72 XP-895 Corvette ME Prototype

    Here’s another vehicle that could well be seen on 7.18.19.

    Click image for larger version

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    Originally posted by AutoWeek
    WHEN IS A CORVETTE NOT A CORVETTE? THE MID-ENGINE, ALUMINUM-BODIED REYNOLDS XP-895 DOUBLED DOWN ON BLASPHEMY

    If it had only been powered by a rotary engine, it would have achieved the trifecta of 'Vette unholiness

    GRAHAM KOZAK Since the very beginning there are three things you’ve always been able to say about the Chevrolet Corvette: It’s made right here in the U S of A, it’s bodied in fiberglass and its engine sits under a long hood up at the front of the car. Just as God and Zora Arkus-Duntov intended.

    Except, on the last front at least, that’s not what Zora Arkus-Duntov intended. (The jury’s still out on how ‘Vette chassis configuration fits into God’s Grand Plan.) In fact, the annals of postwar General Motors history are filled with racy vehicle concepts and experimental testbeds with the motor squarely behind the driver, and an awful lot of them have Arkus-Duntov's fingerprints all over them. From the CERV I monoposto to the aluminum-bodied XP-895 to the to the comparatively well-known Aerovette -- which, before the C8 was confirmed for production, was perhaps the closest GM ever came to consumer-ready mid-engine car -- they’re intriguing glimpses of what might have been.

    All of this is because Arkus-Duntov (who, despite the “Father of the Corvette” moniker, didn’t get involved until Harley Earl and Ed Cole brought the first Corvettes to market) wanted nothing more than for the little Chevy to be a true world-beater. And he wasn’t afraid to change things to achieve that end.

    While the first Corvettes got straight-six power and an automatic, Arkus-Duntov pushed for the manual transmission and V8 combo that transformed the model from boulevard cruiser to true sports car. Arkus-Duntov was responsible for the famed Corvette Grand Sport race cars. And Arkus-Duntov, well aware of the configuration’s high-performance advantages, never gave up on the concept of a mid-engined Corvette.


    GM Heritage Center

    Despite curious rear-end styling, the Reynolds-bodied Corvette had the look of something that could have actually made it to production.

    One of the more curious of the semi-forgotten quasi-Vette experiments is the aluminum-bodied 1972 XP-895, also known as the Reynolds Aluminum Corvette. Like many GM concepts, it wasn’t a total clean-sheet design; its direct predecessor was the experimental XP-882 (which itself was hardly the first mid-engine GM XP vehicle). with which it shared at least some underpinnings.

    There were two XP-895 cars built: One rode on an XP-882 chassis, and before it evolved (yet again) into the car known as the Aerovette, it wore a largely steel body and was powered by a two-rotor ****el engine (****el-powered XP cars are another bizarre story). But steel, while easy to work with, is heavy. And so supplier Reynolds Aluminum -- yes, the aluminum foil company -- was tapped to create the bodywork for the second XP-895.

    Predictably, the Reynolds car weighted a lot less than a steel-bodied car; word is the aluminum shaved 400-500 pounds off the curb weight (woulda been even lighter if they just used foil, right!?). The car had some odd styling elements, especially the narrow horizontal taillight slits, but overall it is an interesting effort with a distinctive continental flair; the transverse mounting of its 400 cubic-inch V8 is a very Miura-like touch.

    Of course, you already know where this is headed: The XP-895 project was yet another false start, and Corvettes remained front-engined and fiberglass-bodied for all eternity, or at least until the covers come off the C8 on July 18. At the time, the main excuse given to the public was that it would be too expensive to produce. A similar judgement also doomed the Aerovette.

    Fortunately, the car dodged the fate of so many other cool GM concepts and escaped the shredder; you can visit it at the General Motors Heritage Center in Warren, Michigan, though you must set up a group tour of the museum to do so.


    The Aluminum Corvette shared this scant amount of ink in the March 2, 1974 issue of Competition Press & Autoweek with the De Tomaso Pantera 7X.

    The question raised by the mid-engine XP cars in general, and the aluminum-bodied Reynolds car in particular, is this: How far can you stray from the original formula before a thing loses its essence?

    Or, put another way, how weird can a Corvette get and still be a Corvette?

    Considered in this context, the Reynolds car is especially interesting. In my view, it came about at more or less the last point where the Corvette could have made an organic transition to a mid-engine configuration without shorting anyone’s circuits.

    Consider: From its looks to its performance to its very intent, the Corvette Sting Ray of 1963 was a dramatically different car than the Blue Flame straight-six powered cruiser that made its world debut a decade prior. Switching the engine placement a decade or so later (about the time the Reynolds car debuted) would have felt more like a step -- a large step, but a single step nonetheless -- on a continuous performance march and less like a radical, identity-shattering change of direction. A production car likely would have traded aluminum bodywork for fiberglass composite, if only due to cost constraints, which would made the transition that much easier.

    Perhaps as important as all of that, Arkus-Duntov would have been involved with the project. Another important point of continuity.


    GM Heritage Center

    An angular version of the famous flag logo on the wheels of the Reynolds-bodied XP-895 leaves little to the imagination: This was presented as a potential Corvette successor.

    But Chevrolet didn’t make the change back then, Arkus-Duntov retired from GM in 1975, and the production Corvettes that have followed -- incredible, brilliant cars that they’ve been, especially recently -- follow a well-defined path. And now that the basic Corvette formula has been ingrained in the collective enthusiast consciousness (American-made, fiberglass, front-engine/rear-wheel drive, V8-powered), the C8 feels like a totally different sort of car. How could it not?

    Never mind how well it drives; is it still a Corvette? fans (and reviewers) will no doubt ask.

    If there’s a bigger lesson here, it’s that the longer you wait, the harder it is to change. For Corvette, the time to make a big change is just around the corner.

    It’s hard to imagine that, even though it took a few decades longer than he would have liked, Arkus-Duntov would be anything less than pleased with the fact that Chevrolet finally came around to his way of thinking.
    https://autoweek.com/article/corvett...icle4-headline
    Last edited by John; 05-17-2019, 01:03 PM.
    Z06 coming late this summer: Hypersonic Gray HTC, two tone blue interior, complete high wing/aero package. CCB’s, with every piece of visible carbon fiber available to us. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 24 year members of National Corvette Museum. Home is the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

  • #2
    That was one of the best concept cars especially for its time period..

    the only really dating feature is the very long overhangs and of course the pop up lights...

    look at how square edged the front trunk is by the front bumper...
    Last edited by JB; 05-17-2019, 03:07 PM.

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    • #3
      That was my dream car as a kid ... four-rotor Wankel and all. Looks pretty dated now, but WOW ... still would have loved to have had one. Thanks John!

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      • #4
        I believe that this one shown is with a v8...i could be wrong though...its been 4 decades....GM was playing around and repurposing its concept cars at a few points in history

        the one thing besides the huge front and rear overhangs is the massive wheel gaps...

        wow....back in the day we didnt flinch on those wheel gaps...(now looking at it..these wheel gaps remind me of the very popular porsche 911 safari editions being shown)

        i think gm validation process included tire chain capability testing... and thats why these wheel gaps were so huge...either that or the car just came off the lift ...***?

        Comment


        • #5
          JB, I get you on the wheel gaps. It just seemed pretty standard for the day. The first thing I did was drop my Cosworth Vega and my '79 Trans Am. GM still seems to have a bit of a problem (in my eyes) there but at least it is fairly easily corrected. You can sure see the front and rear styling elements that influenced (or were copied from, in advance) the '73 (front) and '74 (back bumper) Vettes.

          Comment


          • #6
            Click image for larger version

Name:	4648446B-D17B-45D8-BD97-A6232161F9FC.jpeg
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ID:	36963 That car would have aged well had they made it. Still just as beautiful then as it is now. Heck we were newly weds when that story broke in the mags. It’s been a longgggg time coming for sure.
            Last edited by MikeC8; 05-19-2019, 11:10 AM.
            2021 Shelby GT500. Handling package ,painted stripes and tech package. Will trade for the Z06

            2023 Z06 wait list # 395 at Ciocca Chevy

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by 07MontyRed View Post
              JB, I get you on the wheel gaps. It just seemed pretty standard for the day. The first thing I did was drop my Cosworth Vega and my '79 Trans Am. GM still seems to have a bit of a problem (in my eyes) there but at least it is fairly easily corrected. You can sure see the front and rear styling elements that influenced (or were copied from, in advance) the '73 (front) and '74 (back bumper) Vettes.
              So nice that our C8 will be coming with adjustable coil over shocks, individually height adjustable at each corner. Especially good that for the first time the ME seems to have an adjustable Adjustable Front Lift Height system (option E60) to allow those who wish or need to raise the front end as wanted.
              Z06 coming late this summer: Hypersonic Gray HTC, two tone blue interior, complete high wing/aero package. CCB’s, with every piece of visible carbon fiber available to us. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 24 year members of National Corvette Museum. Home is the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

              Comment

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