Former Corvette Engineers Talk Everything Mid-Engine Corvette
We’ve waited decades for Zora-Arkus Duntov’s mid-engine Corvette dream to come true, now we know why.
It’s not exactly a secret that Chevrolet has toyed around with the idea of building a mid-engine Corvette for decades. Zora Arkus-Duntov himself dreamed of such a thing, yet never quite managed to sneak one through to production. But now, after 40 years of waiting, we’re on the cusp of finally seeing the father of the Corvette’s dream come to fruition.
So now we’re just left to ask, why the heck did it take so long? Luckily, Hagerty recently spoke to three former Corvette engineers, Dave McLellan, Dave Hill, and Tom Wallace, and they were happy to talk about it.
Arkus-Duntov’s successor, Dave McClellan, essentially blamed it on upper management. Which is no surprise to any of us that have spent time in the corporate world. “While there was ample interest in doing a mid-engine sports car within Corvette engineering and GM’s design department, neither the Chevrolet Division nor corporate management was on board with the idea. That’s why Zora’s dream was delayed indefinitely,” he explained.
Still, McClellan noticed that customer’s excitement for a mid-engine Corvette historically hasn’t matched that of the press. “What has surprised me over the years, when experimental mid-engine cars have been displayed at gatherings such as Mid America’s Corvette Funfest, was Corvette owners’ lack of interest in moving from the traditional layout.”
On Wallace’s watch, engineers even went so far as to examine other, established mid-engine supercars. “We took secret test trips studying the Ferrari F430 and various Porsches. GM design studios around the world provided 1/8th scale models to study proportions. Then full-size clays were created to compare a front-engine and a mid-engine design side-by-side.” Unfortunately, the financial crisis struck in 2008, killing these efforts before they could build a running prototype.
ALSO SEE: Lastest Mid-engine Corvette Images Have Us Captivated
So if Chevy brass and traditional customers weren’t on board with a mid-engine Corvette, what’s changed? Apparently, it all boils down to money, as usual. A mid-engine Corvette now offers something it didn’t before, which is the chance to build something truly special, and maybe price it as such.
“The major investments in the Bowling Green manufacturing facilities, including a new world-class paint shop and a reconfigured assembly line, prove that there is now solid financial support for new Corvettes,” added McClellan. “Clearly, the corporation and Chevrolet are up to something very special for this car that wasn’t previously in the cards. I’m not sure if they’re moving or merely broadening the market for Corvettes. Clearly, C8 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Interestingly, all three believe that the mid-engine Corvette will in fact carry a relatively high price tag. “Knowing that the market for mid-engine cars is relatively well populated, I would suggest that the Corvette enter near the top of the heap,” said McClellan.
“I’ll be surprised if Tadge delivers a C8 for $70,000,” added Hill. “The sweet spot lies somewhere between $70,000 and $100,000. I believe that tremendous value for the dollar exists throughout that range.” So maybe the mid-engine Corvette won’t be cheap. But it’ll still be the value proposition we’ve come to expect from the brand.